4:1-5 God Questions Jonah’s Emotional Reaction
Memory Verse: Jonah 4:2
4:1-3 Jonah’s Response To God’s Mercy
- 3:1-10 God wasn’t finished with Jonah. He was willing to give him a second chance—the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time. This time he obeyed, went to Nineveh and when he was “a day’s journey” into the city he cried against the city saying, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” God was offering mercy and hope if they turned from their wickedness and turned to Him. This is exactly what the people of Nineveh did. Therefore, God graciously ceased from causing their city to be overthrown of the calamity—great loss and misfortune—that He had said that He would do unto them as judgement for their sin.
- 4:1 In response to God showing mercy on the Ninevites, Jonah became exceedingly displeased and very angry. This seems like a strange response to God’s mercy. God has turned away his wrath from an evil people because they repented and Jonah turns his wrath against God because he was merciful to them. Jonah is living according to his emotions. As he tells us in the next verse, his own thinking and logic didn’t align with God’s, therefore he chose to do his own thing. He let his emotions rather than his command from God control his will. Then through divinely orchestrated events, he repents and his joy is restored. He starts serving God again. Finally, his emotions stir back up and he decides to follow them over God. His joy is lost again. Anger and discontentment sets back in. Have you ever been angry with God? Has your own thinking and logic not been in align with God’s? Have you been running from God’s will because you don’t agree with God on something? Have you been trying to avoid what God wants? Are you letting your emotions control you? Are you living in the joy of God’s will?
- 4:2 Why?—This is the question on everyone’s mind. Why did Jonah at first decided to disobey God and flee from His presence? Why was he so angry when God showed mercy to the Ninevites? Jonah finally tells us. Instead of running from God this time, he takes his complaint to the Lord through prayer. He prays to the Lord saying that when he was still in his country and the word of the Lord came to him the first time, that this was his “saying” or reason for fleeing—referring to what God has just done—shown mercy. He goes on to explain that he fled to Tarshish because he knew that God was: (1) gracious—inclined to show favor and blessing; (2) merciful—having and showing compassion; (3) slow to anger—having and showing patience; (4) great kindness—having and showing favorable regard to a large extent; (5) repentest thee of the evil—graciously relenting or ceasing from causing great misfortune. Jonah understood that God was willing to give the Ninevites a second chance, but Jonah himself wasn’t. The Ninevites were not Jews, therefore it seems that he didn’t want them to be saved.
Joel 2:13; Nehemiah 9:17
- Why did Jonah hate the Ninevites? We aren’t told why Jonah hated the Ninevites so much but there are several areas of speculation. It could have been because of nationalism, prejudices or racism against the gentile people. He could have misunderstood God’s love for all people. He could have saw the Ninevites as the enemy—thinking they should be destroyed so they wouldn’t be a force against them in the future. Maybe he was worried about his personal reputation as a prophet who proclaimed the downfall of the city—therefore he was desirous for it to come true. Maybe it was a misunderstanding of grace. Either way, his views were contrary to God and God’s character, which led to disobedience.
- God loves everyone. He is not willing that any should perish. He desires for all to know the truth and to be saved. As believers, the Bible says to go: to “all nations,” to “all the world,” “among all nations,” and “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We can conclude that God wants us to make disciples of all people of every nation, country and people group.
John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8
- God extends His love to His stubborn prophet. God didn’t give up on Jonah but gave him another chance. Jonah clearly disobeyed God because he disagreed with the character of God—but it is this character that gave Jonah another chance. The same grace that was offered to unworthy Nineveh was offered to unworthy Jonah.
- 4:3 In a final plea of desperation and selfishness, Jonah pleads with God to take his life from him, saying that it is better for him to die than to live. When he fled from God the first time, he almost came to the point of death—asking the sailers to throw him overboard, but God saved his life. Now he changes his mind again and asks God to kill him—wanting to break his vow a second time. His request is controlled by his irrational emotions and feelings and turns into a protest against the will of God.
Jonah 1:12; 2:6-7, 9
4:4-5 God’s Response To Jonah’s Prejudice
- 4:4 The Lord questions Jonah with this single question: “Doest thou well to be angry?” God is basically asking Jonah if he is right to feel the way that he is feeling. This questions points out that we are responsible and accountable for not just our actions but also our emotions or feelings and how we respond to them. Maybe the question could be asked another way, “If you are right Jonah, do you think that I am wrong?” As believers, we are not to be controlled by our emotions and thoughts, but instead we control our emotions, thoughts and reactions to them through the power of the Holy Spirit. When God calls your emotions into accountability, what is your response?
- 4:5 There is no recorded answer from Jonah to God’s question—but what answer could Jonah have? He knew he was wrong. Next, Jonah leaves the city and sits on the East side of the city. There he made a booth (a makeshift dwelling like a tent) for himself to sit under its shadow. He was going to sit there to see what would happen to the city.
- Jonah responds to the city wide revival with isolation and inactivity. His disappointment with God has led him to distance himself from God’s blessings in the city and he chose to pout about it alone instead of seizing the opportunity to teach the new believers.
- Jonah responds to the city wide revival with false hope and folly—possibly believing that God will still destroy the city. Jonah lacks good sense. He ignores God’s question and actions and seems that he goes on strike against God hoping that God wouldn’t really relent His decision to destroy the city.
- What was Jonah’s response to God showing mercy on the Ninevites?
- Why did Jonah run from God the first time?
- What was Jonah’s plea to God?
- What was God’s question to Jonah?
- What was Jonah’s response in response to the city wide revival?