Jonah’s Journey to a Conversation with God:
How our Emotions Blind Us to the Will of God
Children’s musical instruments – getting in sync.
A Gracious God Acknowledged (vv. 1-4)
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
The book of Jonah now turns from the people of Nineveh to Jonah – 120,000 people repented and were saved (almost immediately after hearing the five-word message). Jonah’s mission was complete, he did what God asked him to do.
Jonah 3:10 “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” Jonah was not just angry, he was exceedingly angry, with God and His decision to not destroy the city of Nineveh (a city of 120,000 people).
God’s displeasure and anger had been calmed because of Nineveh’s repentance and humbly positioning themselves before God, but Jonah’s displeasure and anger is exceedingly, it’s all amped up. Jonah is angry at what God was doing in the lives of the Nineveh.
Jonah is missing out on the joy that he was apart of 120,000 people placing their faith in God because of his own self-centeredness. Today, believers miss the joy of being involved in God’s work because of their own self-centeredness.
“And he prayed to the LORD” – This is the second time that Jonah prays on the book. The first time was from inside the giant fish in chapter 2, where he cries out to God for his salvation.
“I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster”— This is the Hesed love mentioned in chapter two. It is a love connected to a promised commitment. “I promise to always love you – no matter what you do”, the circumstances, etc. My love it based on my commitment, not your actions.
Jonah is fine to receive the grace of God from the inside of a giant fish, but not too much later he feels the right to determine who should and should not be given God’s grace. By denying grace to others, there must be a part of yourself where you feel you deserved the grace you received.
Our view of the world, and specifically having a distorted one (one that does not line up with Scripture) can be depressing and lead to despair. It’s like musical notes that don’t match up – they are not in sync.
Elijah the prophet defeated the prophets of Baal. Fire came down from heaven and burned up his offering, proving the Israelite God was the one true God. But when the evil king’s wife Jezebel heard what had happened she threatened his life. . . , 1 Kings 19:3-7 “Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”
Elijah was exhausted from running away, he was emotionally drained from the fight with the prophets of Baal, and he’s hungry. When he finds himself in this state, he just wants the pain to stop. Jonah was exhausted and emotionally drained from his rebellion from running from the Lord, and being inside a giant fish for three days. Who knows what kind of tole that takes on a person? Elijah ran away and finally collapsed under a broom tree. Jonah settles in somewhere east of the city.
Jonah’s reality distortion was his view of his right to determine who should receive grace and who should not. In Elijah’s reality distortion, he forgot that God wins everything in the end, and it was Elijah’s job to just keep going.
“4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” – Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?” God instead of blasting Jonah, for his “I told you!” comments, God asks Jonah a question. “Is it doing you any good to be angry with God?” As long as you and God are not in sync your life will be miserable.
A Gracious God Admonishes (vv. 5-9)
5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.3 So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?”
And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
In Jonah’s mind, he had gone in to Nineveh and planted a prophetic bomb. Then he went to hillside to watch it explode. Jonah knew they would revert back to their evil ways. He wanted fire and brimstone to reign down from heaven, for the earth to open up and swallow the Ninevites. He wanted their complete destruction, and he wanted to have a front row seat to watch it all happen right in front of him.
“Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there” A booth is a crude structure made of branches, grass, or whatever was around. The Israelite people celebrated the Festival of Booths. Few of the feasts that were a part of old covenant worship were as joyful as the Feast of Booths. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or by its Hebrew name, Sukkot, this celebration was the last of the fall festivals and was held at the end of the agricultural year when the grapes and olives were harvested in Israel. This was a time to thank God for all of the preceding year’s provision and to pray for a good rainy season, which lasted from October through March.
“till he should see what would become of the city” – Jonah is placing himself in the same place as God. Jonah 3:10 “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way . . .” to see if he agrees with it or not. We should never place ourselves in judgement over others.
Then we see that God appoints a series of things to happen around Jonah. Just as the giant fish was appointed, these miraculous “set aside” things happen in short order:
“God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.3 So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.” The plant was God’s plan to show Jonah something; it’s purpose was to “save him from his discomfort” or literally “deliver him from his evil.” We think God was doing this by giving Jonah shade, but that’s not all that is going on here. God is going to do to Jonah, what Jonah wants God to do to Nineveh.
And when Jonah discovers that there is this leafy vine, that is blocking the sun and cooling him off, he is “exceedingly glad.” For the first time in the whole book, Jonah is happy. The miraculous growth would seem that God was supportive of Jonah and his claim that the city should be destroyed.
God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. The storm was prepared to get Jonah into the sea. The great fish was prepared to save Jonah from the ocean depths. The vine was prepared to give Jonah exceeding joy. And now the worm was prepared to rip that joy away. As the vine withered the large leafy green shade began to go away, and the bright rays of the sun started to stream through the booth.
“8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint.” Most scholars identify this as a sirocco – when this occurs in the Near East, the temperature rises quickly and the humidity drops quickly. It is a constant, extremely hot dry wind with fine particles of dust.
Normally molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements in the air carry their full complement of electrons and are therefore electrically neutral. In various ways, however, an electron may be knocked off such a molecule, leaving it with a positive charge. It is then a ”positive ion.”
The hot air is so full of positive ions that it affects the levels of serotonin and other brain neurotransmitters, causing exhaustion, depression, feelings of unreality, and occasionally, bizarre behavior. The sun beat down on him, the wind was brutal, the more he breathed the worse he felt, he grew faint to the point that he thought he was going to die. Jonah is saying, my life is miserable, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
Who told Jonah to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh, to run in the opposite direction of God? Who told Jonah to set up the ridiculous hut outside the city and waste away in the heat and sun? Jonah. Jonah’s rebellious heart, keeps putting him in places of torment.
“9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
Jonah’s priorities are all mixed up. God is teaching Jonah that there are things to consider beyond himself. He is angry because he feels he should be comfortable, while 120,000 lives hang in the balance.
This question that God asks Jonah is the central question of the entire book, it is rephrased from v. 4 – What right do we have to demand that God favor us and not others? Jonah feels there is there is something about him that makes him better than other people because he was shown God’s grace. What God is trying to teach him, is that it is only by God’s grace he is anything.
Jonah also seems to like things that are of value to him. The vine brought him comfort, so he loved it and focused on it. If we are not careful, in our command to go into the world and share the gospel, we may be tempted to only go where we can perceive that it will bring value to us.
A Gracious God Asks (vv. 10-11)
10 And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
The book of Jonah ends with God asking Jonah a question. Jonah values a plant that he didn’t plant, or tend to, and is gone overnight. So he is angry and depressed. While God has compassion on 120,000 people. God values His creation, people.
So we are left to ask “what is it that we obsess about?” What captures our attention, and drives our lives? Is it the same as God’s?
Illustration – Ronnie and the School Bus
 J. Vernon McGee, Jonah and Micah (Thru the Bible Books, Pasadena, California, 1984) 67.
 Jonah 2:8
 Billy K. Smith & Frank S. Page, The New American Commentary, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, vol. 19B (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman, 1995) 274.
 L.C. Allen, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micha, NICOT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdsamn, 1976), 227.
 “When Jerome changed the traditional rendering of this word from gourd to identify it with castor oil plant, a riot broke out in Oea, a city east of Carthage.” NAC, .278.
 NAC, 279.
 NAC, 280.
 IBID, 281.