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Devotionals Jonah

Angry Enough to Die

Just because you feel you are being punished, or some misfortune comes your way, does not mean God’s grace has run out on you! After I had preached today, an elderly brother was telling me that he had had a particularly bad week.  He described how some people, although having been under the Word for some time, behave or think differently to the way they have been taught. I had to assure him that when you have a pastor’s heart it is easy to take such things personally and think you have done something wrong and God is punishing you through that person. I related a story of what happened to me on arrival at the Church. As I was driving in another vehicle started to reverse. Since that driver made no move to return to the parking he was leaving, I moved to the left, not realizing how close I was to the very low concrete wall, giving him space to exit and in doing so I hit that wall damaging the bakkie. Just last night I decided to sell the bakkie this week and this happens. Am I being punished because of something I did? No … these things happen … and they happen to us all. God’s grace has not run out on me or on the brother who related his bad week to me.

1) Did grace run out on Jonah?

Jnh 4:7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.

He was angry. He was behaving contrary to God’s will. He was accusing God of doing wrong. Had God’s grace run its limit with Jonah? Not at all! You see, within the compassion and love and mercy of God, there is discipline for the wayward. He meant every word:

Jnh 4:2 I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

Grace and compassion and slowness in punishment are part of God’s enduring love for His people. You might have recognized the many miracles in the Book of Jonah. The fish that swallowed Jonah, the vine that appeared and now the worm eating away the vine causing it to die immediately and a scorching wind. The word “provided” is used in four places in Jonah:

Jnh 1:17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Then:

Jnh 4:6 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 here:

4:7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered

And lastly:

4:8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.

This shows that God is in control of all things and uses them to achieve His will. God is using the worm here to remove relief and teach Jonah a spiritual lesson in compassion. The plant’s destruction was Jonah’s hardship or punishment. Had grace run out? No … God was working with His prophet. Within the loving Fatherly heart of God, compassion includes discipline and correction at times. Instead of us becoming angry when things happen that are hard, harsh, painful and uncomfortable, let’s turn to God’s Word and cherish it.

Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Often we prefer the verse not to say … “in all things” … but it does because God says it. The good times bring times of refreshing and blessing … but the hard times, the times we sin and are punished including the times out of our control … all these are included in the “in all things”. God uses every incident and situation, caused by you, by another, by an accident or at His express hand … for your good! He was doing this with Jonah! Grace had not run dry!

2) God’s pressure applied.

Jnh 4:8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.

Yes … the sun does rise! God once again uses the elements He created to exact pressure, pain, suffering, agony, misery and distress. As mentioned previously, the sun’s heat and the sandstorms were common in the region. Without the shade of the vine Jonah was near to having sunstroke … to the point … He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”  Remember his words a few verses back?

Jnh 4:3 “Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

What a picture … the miracle of the vine to protect caused the removal of anger. He was happy. The removal of the vine caused his temper to flare up again. He was back to his miserable, angry self! Once again he wished he was dead! Misery, unhappiness and anger are always directed at God first even though you think it is towards a specific person. All sin is firstly against God before it is against the person intended. You might think this is all drawn out … but God is working and He is working to get Jonah to a place where He could apply what He was teaching him through the pressure and discipline.

3) The voice of the Divine. If when we read the Bible and God by His Spirit directs a specific Word, Teaching or Verse to our hearts it is staggering, especially if it is against our sin. Imagine hearing God’s audible voice!

Jnh 4:9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

This question is the same shape as:

Jnh 4:4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

In this case Jonah’s anger is directed against the loss of the vine. It’s the picture of our sin … we will always find fault with something to blame someone. Did Jonah ask for the vine? No it was God’s miracle. It calmed his emotions … and now God removes the vine through a miracle and his emotional disorder returns to the point where he felt God was victimizing him. He was so certain he was in the right and God in the wrong. Jonah believed God was wrong in what He did with the Ninevites and he believed God was wrong in what He did with Jonah! He wanted death on the ship. This was true in:

Jnh 4:3 “Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

and now again:

Jnh 4:9 “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

What Jonah is saying is that he has the right to be angry with God. We will come to the lesson God is trying to teach Jonah, but the reality remains that Jonah was in the wrong. He was sinning. He allowed his personal will to overrule God’s will in his heart and the result was misery, pain, anguish and anger. He was emotionally disturbed and it was sin against God. Be cautious dear friend. Don’t allow the devil to prescribe his will.

Eph 4:26 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.

Help me, Lord. Amen.

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