“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry. . .Then said the Lord, ‘Do you well to be angry?’. . .And he said, ‘I do well to be angry, even unto death’.”

Jonah 4:1, 4, 9b

The Lord will still use us even when our heart’s not right with Him; but, there’ll be no joy or peace-of-mind in the process.


Oh how foul this rotten root that often grows silently in a heart of anger and resentment. Although the reasons for its origin and flourishing may vary, its “fruit” is always the same:  A defiled relationship with God and others (Heb. 12:15).

Such was certainly the case with Jonah.  In reality, the whole book of Jonah is about him, not the wicked city of Nineveh and her repentance.  And, it’s interesting that the book ends with a number of unanswered questions, most of which we must leave in God’s Hands.

Questions such as “Since Jonah felt justified in his anger and showed no remorse or repentance, will he be in Heaven?” or “How can God use such sinners as us?” are certainly questions we all grapple with.

Yet, it’s in such wrestlings that we must run to His Throne of Grace and Mercy (Heb. 4:16) and remember “It’s by His Mercies that we’re not consumed” (Lam. 3:21-23).

Jonah, whose name means “dove,” was acting more like a buzzard in his “running from the Presence of the Lord” (1:3, 10).  The fact that he identified himself as a “Hebrew” (1:9a) reveals his pride in his Abrahamic bloodline and his saying “and I fear the Lord, the God of Heaven, Who has made the sea and the dry land” (v.9b). . .but still felt justified in his running and bitterness. . .revealed a devilish dichotomy of faith, rather than a singular, purity of heart.

Simply put, God used him, but Jonah couldn’t rest in Him because of his rebellious heart.

And, dear Pilgrim, the same will be true of us if we’re not careful—especially if we, too, feel justified in our sinful attitude and feelings.

In reality, Jonah didn’t want Nineveh to repent (4:2).  Even though he knew God’s true nature (“for I knew You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness”), he still wanted those pagan Assyrians “to get what was coming to them”—i.e., to be destroyed.

How could this one. . .the only prophet to be specifically sent to a people. . .feel that way, especially after being delivered from the belly of a great fish and used in such a great way?  The answer?  By the same way a professing follower of Christ can sing “Oh how I love Jesus,” yet harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in their hearts toward others.

Jonah’s real sin was against God.  He cared more about his withered gourd, the scorching heat and blistering wind than he did those Ninevites who needed the Lord (4:4-11).  He was like the Gerasene pig-herders who cared more about their pigs than they did Legion (Mk. 5:11-17).  May the Holy Spirit keep us from such an unloving, un-Christlike spirit, particularly as we remember all that He has done for us.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated October 15, 2010

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