Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jonah 4:1-4

Jonah 4:1-4
4:1 - But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.

Jonah doesn't rejoice at sinners repenting and doesn't try to hide it. Once again, the original audience would still be in Jonah's camp: the Assyrians deserve judgment, not mercy!

4:2 - He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.

Jonah reveals the true reason for his disobedience: he did not want God to show compassion on Israel's ancient enemy. The nation of Israel would be in whole hearted agreement with the prophet at this point.

What is ironic is that Jonah displays insightful knowledge into the character of God and yet still rails against Him for being true to His character. It is also interesting to note that Jonah was well aware of the fact that God could and would show compassion and mercy to the Gentile nations.

4:3 - Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
Jonah is so angry that he asks God to kill him! He would rather be dead than be part of God's compassion to the Assyrians. Of course, he displayed this in chapter one by refusing to relent in the face of death by storm. Or drowning. He only relented when he realized that God would not allow him to die in the belly of the fish.

4:4 - The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

Jonah's non-answer is telling. He knows that he does not have a good reason for being angry. In this case, like Job, Jonah displays a bit of wisdom.

The book of Job, which may or may not have been available to Jonah, describes another time God asked questions. In chapters 38 and 39, God answers Job out of the whirlwind in the form of questions:

Job 38:1-3
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 “Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

The Almighty Creator of all things goes on to ask Job about all sorts of knowledge that only He has. It is good to remember one's place when the One who knows all things asks a question of a man. Jonah would have at least the account of the fall of man and God's questions then as a reference if he didn't have Job.

Paragraph Summary
The introduction to chapter 4 sets the stage for the object lesson for Jonah and the nation of Israel.

Jonah is livid. He explodes in anger at what God has done in the city and bitterly cries against God for His mercy and compassion.
In chap. 1, Jonah refused to cry out
In chap. 2, he cried out to the Lord
In chap. 3, he cried against Nineveh
In chap. 4, he cries against God.

Jonah's actions, thus far, have shown his hard heart; now his words confirm that his actions have been motivated from that same hard heart. He truly thinks that death is better than being a part of seeing evil, wicked Gentiles come under God's grace.

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