Jonah 4

DateVersionReading Plan
@November 23, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Jonah’s Anger and the Lord’s Compassion


Continuing from the previous chapter, Jonah displays his irritation at God for sparing the city of Nineveh. Jonah knew God’s character of grace and mercy and was angered that He relented over the disaster of Israel’s Gentile enemies. Jonah requested that God take his life, but God meets this request by asking him if he did well to be angry. Jonah then went and made booth in the east of the city and God made a plant to comfort him. Jonah responded with gladness to the plant, but God sent a worm to attack and it withered the next day. God appointed an east wind and sun that beat down on Jonah’s and he asked that might die for a third time (Jonah 1:12, Jonah 4:3, Jonah 4:8). God again asked Jonah if it served him well to be angry, this time for the plant. God used the death of the plant as a lesson to rebuke him for being more concerned with the plant than the destruction of the city. The book ends abruptly without telling us how or whether Jonah replied to God’s closing reprimand.

Jonah reflects much of our human nature toward unrighteous anger in this chapter. How often we are angered when God’s mercy is extended toward those who have wronged us or others. We think them unworthy of such favor and quickly forget how unworthy we are of it ourselves. Born in sin and enmity with our Creator, it is only by God’s sheer grace that any human soul has an outcome other than eternal death and separation from Him. Whatever wickedness we see among men, we must realize that we have far more in common with them than we do with God. Seeing this rightly fosters a healthy perspective and prevents us from usurping the role of judge. If justice is warranted, it will come in due time. We are to “leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’.” (Rom. 12:19)

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