“Then said the Lord, ‘You have had pity on the gourd, for the which you have not labored, neither made it grow—which came up in a night and perished in a night.  And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand and also much cattle’?”

Jonah 4:10-11

When our heart’s right with Him, what moves Him will also move us.

Peevishness, pettiness and self-pity.

They always travel together, for they are inseparable, tyrannical triplets.  Although created, chosen and commissioned by God for a specific task, Jonah didn’t want to do God’s Will.  And, even though he ultimately ended up fulfilling it—and being used by God in a most miraculous way—in reality, his heart was still not right with God even as his story ends.

Jonah didn’t like the people of Nineveh.  He knew their history of atrocities, arrogance and abuse.  He knew their love of false gods and worship of idols.  He knew how they’d mistreated the Hebrews down through the years.

And, he wanted them to “get what was coming to them.”

Yet, still God used him.  And, interestingly, instead of using His chastening Rod to “put him in his place” or “teach him a lesson,” the Lord still showed much restraint and Mercy toward this rebellious, resentful prophet.

And, He still does the same toward us today (Lam. 3:21-23).

The Hebrew word “ra ‘a” is used for “displeased” in 4:1a and basically means “to break into pieces, to afflict, bring down, to harm to, punish, etc.,” while “charah” is used for “angry” in 4:1b and also means “to glow or blaze up, kindle, be wroth with, show great displeasure toward, to fret one’s self, etc.”  Thus, it’s the picture of one who’s “frothing at the mouth” and fuming with volcanic anger.

All because God was showing the Ninevites Mercy.

No wonder the Lord twice asked him “Do you do well to be angry?” (4:4, 9a), just like He asked Cain why he was angry and “his countenance fallen” after Abel’s offering was accepted and his wasn’t (Gen. 4:4-5).

Sadly, Jonah felt justified in his anger (4:9b), as do many regular, church-goers today.

But, like Jonah, they shouldn’t expect to get anything out of the sermon or songs of praise when they go—for they’re more concerned about their “withered gourds” (creature-comforts) than they are those who are lost and dying without Christ.

We should notice that it was God Who “prepared the gourd” (4:6). . .and the worm (4:7). . . and the blistering wind and scorching heat (4:8).  And, if we’re God’s children, He’ll also use difficulties and adverse circumstances (and people) in our lives as His “chastening Rod” (Heb. 12:5-11) in an effort to show us our sinful attitudes and actions and hopefully produce “Godly sorrow within us that results in repentance” (II Cor. 7:10).  May we hear His Voice this morning and yield to His Touch—for bitterness and His blessings cannot coexist together.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated October 16, 2010

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