Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's pm service on Jonah 4.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry (Jonah 4:1).
Last Sunday we completed our brief exposition of Jonah by looking at Jonah chapter 4. The book of Jonah is a simple story, but with profound lessons for us. Here are three applications from this final chapter:
First, we learn about the great character of the LORD, the one true God of the Scriptures.
In light of the God’s mercy to Ninevah, Jonah prayed to the LORD, “for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of evil” (v. 2; cf. Exodus 33:18-23; 34:5-7). The LORD so often does NOT pour out upon men the wrath they deserve.
As I heard one contemporary preacher recently quoted: Finding mercy in the God of the Bible is not like trying to get blood from a stone, but water from the ocean.
As the Puritan preacher Richard Sibbes out it: “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”
Second, we learn that the LORD so often works and teaches us through our providential circumstances.
In Jonah we learn how the LORD “prepared” a great fish to swallow the prophet (1:17). He also “prepared” for Jonah a gourd (4:6), a worm (4:7), and a vehement east wind (4:8). Our providential circumstances do not come about by accident or happenstance, but under the meticulous care of a sovereign God. In all our circumstances he puts us in a classroom and teach us how to depend upon and trust in him.
Third, we must ask if we have become “angry” at God’s mercy, as Jonah did.
Jonah became angry at God’s mercy to the Ninevites. One New Testament parallel is the depiction the elder brother in Christ’s parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son in Luke 15.
When the elder brother comes home, hears the noise of the party, and discovers that the Father has killed the fatted calf to celebrate his brother’s return, he remains outside sulking. The parable ends with the Father telling him, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should be merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:31-32).
We might ask whether we have been stingy or resentful of God’s mercy. Have we been angry prophets? Who is our Ninevah? Jonah had good reason to hate Ninevah, Israel’s enemy. But Christ taught his disciples, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle