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September 5, 2014

Let me start this blog with a review of the first three chapters of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a judgment message to the Ninevites. Jonah rebelled and got on a ship going to Tarshish. When a relentless storm arose, it was determined that Jonah was the cause, and he was thrown overboard. Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish and remained in the fish for three days at which time he repented and asked God to be merciful to him. God answered Jonah’s request, and he had a second chance to complete his assignment. The city of Nineveh responded positively to the judgment message, and they repented; which caused God not to destroy them.

Now to chapter 4 which is a revealing and disturbing chapter on discrimination. This chapter reveals the reason Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, and it shows the depth of anger and discrimination that a believer can have toward others.

Jonah 4:1-3 states, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”

First and foremost Jonah who just survived a near-death experience by the mercy of God is angry because God shows mercy to the Ninevites. His attitude reveals a flaw: he does not love his enemies, and neither does he want God to love and care for them. He fails to realize that even though they were an enemy to Israel, God still loved them and desired to save them. God’s love goes beyond a nation; He loves all the people in the world.

He also gives the reason he fled to Tarshish: he did not want to be the messenger who caused the Ninevites to turn to God. He wanted God to punish them, not save them. Jonah wanted to be in control of the fate of Nineveh, and it would not be good. Jonah wanted his words to come true or possibly he could have felt if his judgment message did not happen people would think he was a false prophet which would bruise his pride.

Finally, his anger fueled by hatred and animosity to the Ninevites was so great he rather die than see God’s love and mercy be extended to them. Are we like Jonah? Are their individuals that we want God to destroy because they’ve hurt us or someone we loved, and are we wanting to die because our enemies appear to be prospering instead of declining? God’s answer to Jonah for his attitude and thoughts was, “What right have you to be angry?”

Jonah leaves the city and sets up camp outside of it to watch what God was going to do. What Jonah wanted to see was the calamity of the Ninevites. Jonah failed to realize his opposition to God’s plan was aligning him with Satan. Jonah sadly preferred annihilation than redemption. He was blinded by anger and discrimination. These were not his people, and besides, in the past, they bought destruction and mayhem to Israel. His hatred was so great it did not allow him to celebrate the success of his ministry; for his ministry saved the lives of more than sixty thousand Ninevites.

A series of events now occur to magnify Jonah’s resentful attitude. At first, God allows a gourd to grow and protect Jonah from the blazing sun, which made Jonah happy. Then He allows a worm to attack the gourd and it withered. Next, he sends wind and sun to beat down on the head of Jonah, which causes him to be faint and desire to die. Hence, Jonah’s states, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

God notes Jonah’s sympathy for the gourd, and he questions him saying, “Jonah, doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?” And he said, “I do well to be angry, even unto death.” In this chapter, we see that Jonah had an anger management problem. His anger kept producing a death wish. Jonah needed a reality check. His wrong attitude opened the door to anger, and anger is attempting to lead him to destruction. Satan was at work in Jonah’s life, stealing his joy, killing his desire to live and attempting to destroy his ministry. This man of God was out of order, and the chapter ends not with praise from God for an assignment well done, but a rebuke for having more compassion for a thing rather than people.

This last chapter reveals my theme for the book of Jonah: a need for an attitude adjustment. Jonah, who possessed a wrong attitude, was given a mission for which he rebelled. He then repentant for his rebellion but went on the mission with the wrong attitude. I believe God is calling all believers to examine their attitude toward witnessing and ministry. The question, “Is your heart in your ministry, or do you do it with regret?” For the ministry to be rewarding, it must also come from the heart. Compassion for souls must be reflected in our attitude; for doing things for God, begrudgingly is not worth doing. This then is a prayer issue that God can help us to resolve if we admit our attitude is not pleasing to him and request Him to help us make an attitude adjustment.

Finally, this study on the life of Jonah allowed me to do a personal examination and to check my attitude. I pray that it has also helped you to do the same.


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