a sulking prophet
We might think of God’s prophets as holy and well-behaved, somewhat like that model student in school. But there was a prophet who had the audacity to yell, “God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” Jonah was that man, and his words are written in the Bible for all to see.
Why was Jonah so furious? He was mad at God for changing His plans (Jonah 4:1). Was Jonah offended because God was fickle? Nope, God was acting in keeping with His character (v.2). So, why exactly was Jonah angry? Based on his own words, there are two possible reasons:
- His reputation as a prophet would be tainted if his prediction didn’t come to pass (v.3).
- His nationalistic fervor demanded that Israel’s enemies be punished rather than pardoned (v.2).
Perhaps you and I feel that we sometimes have a right to be angry with God. For He might allow us to “lose face” while doing His will. Or He might show mercy to our enemies. But which is more important—God’s reputation or our reputation, God’s plan or our wishes?
God was gentle in the way He dealt with His erring prophet. He confronted Jonah’s mixed-up priorities with an object lesson. And the key lesson for Jonah—and us—is this: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9).
Jonah knew God, but he didn’t share His compassion for the lost. He was involved in God’s mission, but without the right attitude. If we’re merely doing our Father’s business without sharing our Father’s heart, there could be a Jonah in us too. —Poh Fang Chia
The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” (v.4).
Read Luke 15:11-32 for a glimpse into the Father’s heart.
In what ways are you like Jonah? How would you answer the Lord’s question in Jonah 4:11?