God of All the World
Unto You, Lord, not to anything or anyone else, be all the honor, glory and praise. You alone are worthy.
Read Jonah 4
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
We all have had times of difficulty and disappointment. How do you express your anger towards God?
The book of Jonah portrays its protagonist as a pitiful and self-absorbed character. We might see ourselves in him. Entirely taken up in his own circumstances and self-pity, he misses what is important about the world around him.
Jonah is angry first when God forgives those whom Jonah thinks are unworthy of forgiveness. Then he becomes angry when his own comfort is disturbed. At no time does Jonah stop to consider the plight of the people of Nineveh. In contrast to the supposedly godless sailors and the citizens of Nineveh, Jonah is consumed by his prejudice and self-centeredness. The book seems to cry out, “When you think you are right and that you know all about who is deserving and who is not; when you love your own but hate others, when you are sure how God ought to act, it is time to think again.”
At the end of the story, God provides a tree to give shade to Jonah and then he removes it. This provides a test, an opportunity for Jonah to see himself and a context for explaining God’s love for Nineveh. Disproportionately angry over the fact that the tree that sheltered him has gone, Jonah has lost all perspective. He is angry enough to die and feels completely justified in his anger, even though his only concern for the tree is that it had provided him with shade. God’s concern, however, is for the survival and welfare of others, human and animal. The book of Jonah invites the prophet and the reader to share God’s concern, to disregard our selfish preoccupations and live compassionately and generously toward all in God’s world.
Have you ever tried to limit God’s mercy to others? Be honest! How has God challenged you in this study of Jonah?
Heavenly Father, I stand amazed at Your willingness to use me, with all my weaknesses and sin. Keep me on the path of growth and service.
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