THOSE WHO BENEFIT FROM GOD’S COMPASSION HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN AGAINST THE SOVEREIGN EXTENSION OF MERCY TO OTHERS (NO MATTER HOW UNDESERVING)
Jonah’s ministry “success” was really “failure” when you examine his heart motivation. Here God takes the reluctant prophet to task and uses a simple object lesson to expose the difference between a heart of compassion and a heart of vengeance. Despite having just personally experienced the mercy of God in his own desperate situation, Jonah begrudges that same mercy to the city of Nineveh.
I. (:1-3) ANGER AGAINST GOD IS ESSENTIALLY COMPLAINING AGAINST SOME ASPECT OF GOD’S CHARACTER
A. (:1) Venting Displeasure — Reformed Actions . . . But Same Judgmental Attitude
“But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.”
Goins: Jonah’s problem is that he wants to control God. And what do any of us do when we can’t control circumstances and get our own way? We get angry. (We may express our anger in a lot of different ways—perhaps passively.)
B. (:2) Justifying Rebellion — Preferring Personal Agenda
“And 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 Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”
C. (:3) Throwing in the Towel – Self Pity Party
“Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
II. (:4-8) SHADE PLANT OBJECT LESSON DEMONSTRATED: DO YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO BE ANGRY?
A. (:4) Fundamental Question
“Do you have good reason to be angry?”
B. (:5) Safe Vantage Place
“Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.”
C. (:6) Shade Plant Provided – Liking the Circumstances
“So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.”
D. (:7-8) Shade Plant Removed – Hating the Circumstances
“But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. And it came about when the sun came up that God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life.’”
III. (:9-11) SHADE PLANT OBJECT LESSON EXPLAINED: DO YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO BE ANGRY?
A. (:9) Fundamental Question / Defensive Answer
“Then God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to death.’”
Ritchie: That’s the way we react (at least I do) when God doesn’t do it our way. This is called “biblical thumbsucking.” “When God doesn’t do it my way, I’d just as soon die. What is the use? I can’t go on! This is not the way I planned it, and therefore, it is better to be home with the Lord. ” (I suspect I am saying that for myself.) We all struggle with that, one way or another. Our children don’t turn out exactly the way we want them; our marriages aren’t exactly the way we want them; our jobs are not exactly what we prayed for, so we get angry with God and say we’d rather die. We’d rather give up, quit. What’s the use?
B. (:10) Object Lesson of Shade Tree Reviewed
“Then the Lord said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.’”
C. (:11) Application to Lord’s Compassion on Nineveh
“And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
Goins: The expression refers to an inability to make moral judgments. That is how God views the wicked, evil, idolatrous citizenry of Nineveh. They are in the dark, blindly flailing around. They can’t tell their right hand from their left, good from bad, right from wrong. They are in bondage.