But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. (Jonah 4:1)
Lesson 7– Anger.
Have you ever been angry at God? I’m not talking about the anger that comes from pain or fear. I’m not talking about the anger that comes from those times when we can’t see or don’t understand what God is doing. The anger I’m talking about is when we just don’t like what God is doing. That’s where Jonah is.
According to Scofield: The man himself was a bigoted Jew, unwilling to testify to a Gentile city, and angry that God had spared it.
As we will learn from this week’s passages in Jonah, anger can take many forms.
So he prayed: Our LORD, I knew from the very beginning that you wouldn’t destroy Nineveh. That’s why I left my own country and headed for Spain. You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don’t like to punish anyone, not even foreigners. (Jonah 4:2)
Jonah didn’t want a thing to do with Nineveh. He didn’t want to go there, he didn’t want to preach there, and he especially didn’t want God to save the people there. The Ninevites were some bad people. They were Israel’s greatest enemy at the time. They were a city of pagans who worshiped many gods.
Surely God didn’t blame Jonah for his anger against God’s enemies? Surely God doesn’t blame us for our anger against His enemies?
But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. But there is more! Now that God has accepted us because Christ sacrificed his life’s blood, we will also be kept safe from God’s anger. Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life. (Romans 5:8-10)
Now let me die! I’d be better off dead. The LORD replied, “What right do you have to be angry?” (Jonah 4:3-4)
Jonah didn’t even try to hide his feelings.
We love our anger don’t we? Someone offends or hurts us, or maybe someone we love, and we get all worked up. We nurture our anger like a sick child, we hold on to it like a precious jewel. We call our friends so they can reassure us, tell us that we have every right to be mad, and so they can get mad with us. What joy – until we get that tugging, until we begin to hear that still small voice:
If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)
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. (Jonah 4:5)
Basically, Jonah was pouting, he threw himself one big pity-party. Not only are we angry and want all those around us to be angry with us, we want God to be angry. “Sure Lord, You said pray for my enemies, but surely you didn’t mean this time”. “Lord, You don’t understand what she did to me”. Cruel, hurtful situations in your life when the very thought of even God forgiving someone who had wronged you made you angry?
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)
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. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 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.” 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.” 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. (Jonah 4:6-10)
As we read the text, it appears Jonah was angry about pretty much everything, to the point that he prayed to die! Jonah was a definite candidate for anger management and that’s exactly what he got – God’s way.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (Ephesians 4:26)
It’s our choice, we can learn our lesson the hard way, through our own experience, or we can take a lesson from Jonah – God is the Righteous One, He is the Just One. God gives the shelter and He brings the wind, the sun, and the worm. It is God who chooses who He will bless and who He will save.
I’ve had some experience in God’s training camp. As a rule, I am what you might call an impatient person. Where many people like the byways, I would rather take the highways; why go 45 MPH when you can go 70 MPH? For me, it’s not about the journey, it’s about the getting there. Some years back, in the early days of my faith walk, I decided that patience would be a good virtue and, you guessed it, I prayed for patience. Like I said, I was pretty new in my faith and I just figured I would wake up one morning a patient woman. Instead of the anxious, irritable, and impossible woman I had been, I would be that woman Peter talks about; you know the one with the quiet gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4). That’s not quite how it worked out. All sorts of things began to “go wrong” in my life. A sick husband, problems at work, family issues; the kind of things that would try even the patience of Job. But, rather than looking like Job, I looked more like Job’s wife! [You remember Mrs. Job, she encouraged her husband with those infamous words “curse God and die” Job 2:9] Praise God, He who begins a good work is faithful to complete it and He didn’t leave me in that wilderness season, He used that season to teach me patience, to teach me how to wait on Him. I’m still no Job, but I’m no longer his wife either.
That’s God’s way. I read something from James MacDonald recently that impressed me and has stuck with me, it seems appropriate for this lesson: “God’s love is not a pampering love, it is a perfecting love”. Jonah had to learn his lessons the hard way, most of mine I’ve learned the hard way as well but I’m so glad that through the past lessons and the ones I know are ahead of me, I can depend on God’s perfecting love.
Until next time,