Week Six – Jonah 4:1-10

Jonah 3:4-10

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”
Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness,[a] not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Many people think that Jonah’s story is all about being swallowed by a fish, experiencing forgiveness then followed by Jonah faithfully obeying God’s call and going to Nineveh. But in all of the books of the bible the narrative about Jonah has one of the most unexpected and over looked final chapters.

Many modern skeptics respond to Jonah’s story with distrust. The reprice from God because of the repentance of Nineveh is one of the reasons for this disbelief. We are quick to believe in the violence of Nineveh, but it is harder to believe that a whole city, including its various classes could turn away from injustice.

In verse 1 of Chapter 4 it tells us that Jonah became very angry. It is a shocking reaction that is completely unexpected.


Which do you think was Jonah’s biggest problem: anger, pride, selfishness, depression, prejudice, or something else?

Which of these do you struggle with.

In what situations do you find yourself angry at God?


Why is Jonah so angry here? He has just preached the most powerful sermon of his life to his toughest audience and had great success. Verses 2 and 3 give us an insight into what his issues with God were. One can imagine what would have been going through Jonah’s mind. “I knew you were going to do this God. Can’t you see these evil people are only converting because they are scared.” 

The issue here for Jonah and us today is a theological one. Jonah was an Israelite, the people who God promised to preserve to accomplish his purpose in the world.  How can God uphold that promise yet show mercy to Israel’s enemies?

To Jonah (and us) there is a contradiction between God’s justice and his mercy.


Why would Jonah desire destruction of another nation?

When you felt angry / frustrated at God, how did you overcome those feelings?

Is there anything in your life right now that you are currently depressed or angry about? Write down what you are currently going through and pray about it.

Jonah is very dramatic in verse 3 and tells God that he wants to die. Yet with the wisdom and gentleness that only God can express, Jonah is chastised for his inappropriate anger.  This interaction here gives us a deeper insight into what Jonah’s real issue was. It was much more than a theological issue, it was a heated one.

By expressing his lack of desire to go on, it means that he has lost something that had replaced God in his heart. There was something more that Jonah desired. His uncontrollable anger shows that he is willing to turn away from his relationship with God if he does not get what he desires. Nineveh’s repentance was pleasing to God but not Jonah, he cared more for his own country than he did for a fellow human
beings repentance.

If our love for our own interests leads us to exploit other people, then our own selfish interests are what we value the most. Not God.


How do you express your anger?  What percentage of your anger comes from not getting what you want?

How comfortable are you with telling God your anger?

How does God deal with Jonah’s anger? How does he deal with your anger?

Jonah walking in Nineveh after his experience in the fish would have been full of self-righteous anger. He was obeying God’s command and would be preaching his word fearlessly. He did his job and waited, nothing happened. One can only imagine that he would have felt like a fool.

Jonah disobeyed God and felt the wrath of God through the storm and then in the belly of the fish. Surely these evil Ninevites deserved worse. After being forgiven Jonah is ungrateful and refuses to forgive others.

In Jonah 4:4 God asks Jonah if it is good to him to burn with such anger. Asking this of Jonah is a lesson in humility and strong consolation. Things are not easy for Jonah after his conversion experience. This is a lesson for us today. (Galatians 5:17 & Ephesians 4:22-24).


Are you unwilling to extend God’s grace and forgiveness to anyone right now.

What is the result of holding onto that anger, even if it seems justified?

Why do we all struggle with giving forgiveness rather than receiving it?

Jonah is full of self righteous anger and he is determined to see the city destroyed. He makes himself a temporary shelter. His shelter is no match for the weather so God sends a vine to give him shade. He finds some relief in the shade. Than God sends a worm and the shade is gone. Jonah would have been wondering why he can never catch a break with God. God then famously questions Jonah about his love for the plant versus his hate for the people on Nineveh.

God is full of compassion for both Nineveh and Jonah. His compassion is concrete. He describes the people of Nineveh as not knowing their left from their right. God’s threat to destroy Nineveh shows that this blindness is no excuse for the evil they have done, it shows remarkable sympathy.


What do the vine, worm and hot sun reveal about God?

What do the vine, worm and hot sun reveal about God?

What lesson was God trying to teach through the vine? What is the lesson for us today?


Reflect on what you have learnt about God this week. Spend time with God asking for forgiveness and thanking him for the scandalous grace he shows us. Pray that you have the wisdom, unlike Jonah, to show that grace when it is needed.


Reflect on what you have learnt about God this week. Spend time with God asking for forgiveness and thanking him for the scandalous grace he shows us. Pray that you have the wisdom, unlike Jonah, to show that grace when it is needed.