Niveneh and Jonah’s anger
Scripture: Jonah 3:10-4:11
Aim: To show the repentance of people of Nineveh and the wrongful response of Jonah.
Golden Text: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not” (Jonah 3:10). “Jonah, then fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live'” (Jonah 4:8b).
Jonah had reluctantly gone to Nineveh to preach God’s message of judgment to the people. After having received a strong persuasion from the Lord by being swallowed by a whale, Jonah went and preached at Nineveh.
The king, leaders and people heard the message of judgment and repented of their sins. They changed their sinful ways and began to seek Jehovah God. The result is ever the same. When sinful people repent and turn to God, He forgives them. The result of Nineveh’s repentance was that Jehovah stopped the judgment that He had promised (Jonah 3:10, Text above).
The repentance was genuine and complete. From the least to the greatest of the people all repented and cried out to the Lord to forgive them rather than destroy them in judgment.
I. Jonah was displeased at the repentance of the people and the stay of God’s judgment (Jonah 4:1-3). First, we are told that Jonah was displeased and became “very angry” because the judgment against Nineveh was stayed by the hand of Jehovah (vs. 1).
Second, Jonah prayed about the situation. In essence this is what Jonah said to God, “Lord, I told you when I was back at home that You would forgive them. And if You forgave them, then they could fulfill the prophecy that You had given that Assyria would destroy Israel for Israel’s sins. If I did not come and preach, Your judgment would have destroyed them and Israel would be safe” (vs. 2, writer’s translation). Jonah told the Lord, “It is better for me to die, than to live” (vs. 3).
II. Jehovah asked Jonah, “Doest thou well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4-9). Jonah, pouting, went out of the city, built a booth, and sat in the desert sun to wait and see if God would destroy Nineveh as he had preached (vs. 5). God made a gourd vine to sprout and cover over Jonah’s booth to give him relief from the heat. Jonah was glad for the shade (vs. 6).
The next evening God prepared a worm to eat the gourd vine so that it died (vs. 7). Pouting Jonah was angry. God also sent a very hot (“vehement”) east wind (coming of the desert) so the sun beat down upon Jonah (vs. 8). Again, Jonah wished himself to be dead (vs. 8).
Jonah is in a terrible fix! He has been disobedient to God, but when chastised he reluctantly obeyed. He preached judgment upon the Ninevehites, but they repented and judgment was averted. God gave a gourd for shade-Jonah glad. God sent a worm and wind-Jonah more angry. Now he just wanted to die! Poor, self-centered Jonah. Simple obedience and faith in God would have left Jonah at peace with God, Nineveh and himself.
III. Jehovah’s question (Jonah 4:9-11). “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?” Jonah’s reply, “I do well to be angry, even unto death” (vs. 9)! Jehovah said to Jonah that if he had a right to be angry at the gourd, was it not right that he should spare repentant Nineveh, which had more than 60,000 little children in the city? Jonah had been self-centered. Jehovah was concerned about the souls of others.
God’s judgment is declared against all sinful and unrighteous persons. Yet, He desires that men repent and be spared the wrath that has been declared. Receiving Christ averts judgment.