Jonah 4

Jonah 4:1-4

It’s worth noting that same word used to describe the evil of Nineveh, is being used here by Jonah to describe God’s relenting from destroying Nineveh. He’s basically calling the love and mercy God extends to the Ninevites evil (rah).

And he prayed…O Lord…
  • This is an entreaty – ernest, anxious, loaded, request
  • We’ve already been told what it’s loaded with – anger
  • This was not a quiet time
  • “I beseech thee…”
  • See Psalm 119:76 for another example of this type of prayer.
  • This is an upgrade from his fleeing in chapter one, albeit a small upgrade, but an upgrade none the less.
  • In Chapter 1 he sleeps in apathy; here he “prays” in anger.
  • Jonah certainly can’t be accused of being “lukewarm”…he’s hot with anger (Revelation 3:15-17)
In my country…

These words were first spoken to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7) for Israel. It makes sense that God would show mercy to himself a Jew. As we saw in Chapter 2, he sees his own flaws and is willing to confess them. He just doesn’t think he’s as bad off as the Assyrians. He can’t see past his self-righteousness and entitlement.

For I knew…

Jonah knew the outcome of this situation from the word Go! This was a game changer, and it was a game Jonah wasn’t prepared to play. It took the steadfast love and mercy of God to a whole new place. Jonah was good with the idea of God loving Israel, but he was far from ready for the radical message of John 3:16.

How is Jonah like the older brother in Luke 15:11-32?
Take my life…

God no longer fits into Jonah’s box. He (literally) can’t for the life of himself see the bigger picture because he’s blinded by his anger.

How does the attitude of Jonah contrast with Paul’s attitude in Philippians 1:18-21?
What keeps us from being more like Paul?
Do you do well to be angry…

Here are a few examples in scripture of God asking some questions. Of course, He never asks because he doesn’t know the answer already.
Adam: Genesis 3:9
Cain: Genesis 4:9
Elijah: 1 Kings 19:13


Jonah 4:5-8

Jonah doesn’t answer God’s question. In some ways he might as well be running again. He leaves the city, builds a shelter and watches to see if his prayer had any effect on the final outcome of Nineveh. He turns his attention to his own comfort rather than rejoicing over their repentance. Jonah would rather sit in the shadows of his sin than rejoice over the redemption God offers.

But God once again isn’t finished with Jonah. Over the course of the next several verses, God creates an object lesson to give Jonah a front row seat to his own evil. Three times we see God appoint something on Jonah’s behalf. We must ask ourselves, “Do we desire what God appoints more than our own comfort?”

Jonah 4:9-11
How can we see God’s grace in his persistence with Jonah?
Read Romans 8:28
How do we define good? Does our definition line up with God’s?
How does Hebrews 12:1-7 inform us of God’s love for Jonah and His love for us?
How is Jesus a better Jonah in Luke 19:41 and Luke 23:34?

Jonah is one of only two books that end with a question (The other being Nahum). And both questions are in relation to Nineveh.

Why do you think Jonah ends this way?

“Do we care more about the items in our gardens, the produce of our fields, or perhaps the contents of our garage, or home, than we do about our fellow men and women and the spread of the gospel to them? Do we care more, in the last analysis, about our own comforts and plans than about the evangelism of the world in our time? The statistics of our giving, or praying, or going in the cause of Christ throughout the earth provide embarrassing reading to the church. They raise very real questions about whether we have begun to rid ourselves of the ‘Jonah syndrome’.”
Sinclair Ferguson – Man Overboard

“If we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serve God and our neighbors. If we say “I believe in Jesus” but it doesn’t affect the way we live, the answer is not that now we need to add hard work to our faith so m as that we haven’t truly understood or believed in Jesus at all.”
(Tim Keller, The Prodigal God)