Jonah Ch. 4 - Remembering the Pain


But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (Jonah 4:1-2)

Could this really be a description of Jesus? Could He really have been greatly displeased and angry? Absolutely!

He took upon Himself every bit of the punishment that all of mankind deserved since the beginning of the world. And for what? They were the ones who did all that evil!

Jesus’ words may well have sounded like “Dad, I know You. And I’ve known from the beginning that You are the God of grace and compassion; One who was patient and overflowing with love; One who avoids sending punishment if at all possible. Why did I have to go and endure such terror and pain? –Why?!”

Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” (Jonah 4:3-4)

His Father’s reply was penetrating. His few words spoke volumes. Effectively, He said “Who are You to say these things? Am I not the source of authority, the One Who has designed all things and then made them subject to You? Am I not the source of justice and the One Who has made You judge of all men?”

Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. (Jonah 4:5)

East and west are symbols used throughout the Bible to represent the beginning and end of time. It can be seen in the way that the sun rises in the east (the beginning of the day) and sets in the west (the day’s end).

From the beginning of time, Jesus has been watching what was going to happen to mankind.

Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. (Jonah 4:6-7)

The vine was Israel. It was a bright spot –a comfort from the chaos in the rest of the world. But when Israel was confronted with the Serpent (the Devil), it withered away. The confrontation was their choice to kill His Son or receive Him as their Messiah. It was at that time that the gospel was given over to the Gentiles for a time.

When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:7-8)

This brings us back to His death. He knew that it was coming since the beginning of time. Remember how He agonized over it?

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.” But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:9-11)

His words might well have carried with them, “Son, You have loved Israel –but I was the One Who gave her to You. Take a look at the bigger picture –look at all of humanity! Your bride, the church, will consist of much more than just Israel.”

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)