If the story ended at chapter 2, then it would be a great story of calling and repentance. If the story ended at chapter 3, then it would be a great story of calling, repentance and a heroic response to one’s calling. In fact, a chapter 3 ending would be more parallel to the modern mythical story of our modern society: how one feels a calling, shrinks in fear, but then overcomes that fear to live out a glorious calling. In terms of results, Jonah was the most successful prophet. But the story doesn’t end there. We have chapter 4.
It’s a very confusing chapter, it’s mysterious and weird.
- But we have it.
- Which means that it means something.
- And because it’s the concluding chapter of our short book, it is a very important chapter.
- It’s perhaps the most important one.
- It is the key to the meaning of the whole book.
So it’s very important to reflect deeply on this last chapter.
The word “angry” comes up 5 times in English, 6 if you include the Hebrew root for “displeased”
Jonah’s anger is a recurring theme, and one you identified in your questions.
Jonah is angry that God changed his mind about Nineveh.
- He reveals the true reason that he ran away: he knew God was compassionate and would change his mind.
- This statement reveals his intimate knowledge of God.
- He knows that God is compassionate, merciful and slow to anger.
But Jonah’s reaction reveals that DP is right when he states that Jonah has no love for Nineveh.
- If you read his action in Nineveh carefully, you see that all he did was proclaim Nineveh’s impending doom.
- “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!
- That was it.
- He didn’t offer any way out, anything they could do.
- Probably he was hoping that this prophecy would actually come true.
Jinny asked why he went out to see what would happen.
- He probably did so to see if God might actually change his mind again at the last minute and actually destroy them.
- It was like he was giving God one more chance.
So in line with some of the questions posed:
Why is Jonah so angry about God’s compassion and change of heart?
What does his anger reveal about Jonah?
Jonah was so happy about the bush.
- It’s like he forgot his anger at God about letting Nineveh live
- It provided a nice shade and comfort.
- But God sends a worm that attacks the bush and makes it wither.
- The sun beats down on him and the wind chafes against his face.
- The dude is really uncomfortable.
- And his anger is kindled once again.
It’s to the point where he repeats what he said about God’s change of heart to Nineveh: “It is better for me to live than to die”
The interesting thing is that God asks a second time: “Is it right for you to be angry?”
- The first time, he didn’t answer, he simply left town.
- But this second time, he responds: “Yes, angry enough to die.”
What’s different about his anger about the bush from his anger about Nineveh?
What’s the same?
What do you learn about Jonah from this?
What do we learn about ourselves?
Jonah’s Repentance and God’s Calling
When Jonah was in the belly of the fish, he had a deep moment of reckoning.
- He showed repentance.
- He said: “As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”
Rockey asked if Jonah actually repented in the fish, or if it was superficial.
What do you think?
What’s the difference between his repentance in the fish, and what you see here?
On the face of it, it seems like Jonah’s calling was to go to Nineveh and cry out against it.
- Was that it, or was it something more than that?
What does this last chapter reveal about the nature of God’s calling?
What does this say to you?