For Exposition of Jonah Part 8 click HERE
(Note: This is a long exposition but I think it’s worth reading)
Establish the need: Are you not sharing your faith with others? Are you not excited to hear someone coming to salvation with God? Or do you do share your faith—but grudgingly? In summary: Do you have compassion for evangelism?
Main Point: Explore the three S in Jonah chapter 4, so that you would have the compassion for evangelism.
- Watch for the Symptoms of the lack of compassion for evangelism (v.1-5)
- See the Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism (v.6-8)
- Understand the So-Much-More Argument for compassion in evangelism (v.9-11)
Context:Nineveh has just repented from their sins in chapter three where they sought God for mercy. God was merciful and did not bring about judgment of sin. This narrative focuses on God’s dealing with Jonah, a transition from God dealing with Nineveh.
I. Watch for the Symptoms of the lack of compassion for evangelism (v.1-5)
Passage: “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”5 Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of [d]it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.”
i. You have anger (v.1)
- Nineveh repents from their sins, and Jonah gets angry!
- Anger is apparently a big theme because it is mentioned in verse 1, 4, and 9 twice (Kohlenberger, 65).
- Verses one parallel earlier 3:9-10; God turning from his calamity (which in the Hebrew is the same word as “evil”), resulted in it being an evil or calamity to Jonah (Kohlenberger, 65).
- As soon as God departed from His anger, Jonah picked it up (Kohlenberger, 65).
ii. Your prayers are short-sighted of God’s mercy (v.2a)
- There is the irony that Jonah’s complaint is called a “prayer,” and that this is the same Hebrew word used earlier in 2:1 when God showed mercy to him while now he’s praying to complain about God’s mercy to others (Kohlenberger, 65).
- This prayer reveal the problem: Jonah’s shortsightedness of God’s mercy, as indicated by Jonah’s use of the personal pronoun “I” nine times in this chapter (Kohlenberger, 67).
iii. You complain of God’s goodness (v.2b)
- Only finally in 4:2 do we know of the reason why Jonah fled from God in chapter one in the first place: ““Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish,”
- “For” reveals the reason.
- “I knew”—This proclamation by Jonah that he knows of Yahweh sparing Nineveh is in contrast to the king of Nineveh in chapter three not knowing that Nineveh will be spared by God.
- These attributes of God were known by Jonah from Exodus 32:14! Yet despite the solid theology, Jonah did not appreciate it for his life and obedience.
- The attributes:
i. This term is used thirteen times in the Old Testament, always referring to God, with Exodus 22:27 illustrating the meaning of this word which teaches that God will hear the prayer of the one needing his coat back for warmth because He is compassionate (Limburg, 91).
ii. Favor towards those who are disadvantaged (Youngblood, Location 3086).
iii. Thus, this term reveals God will act on the basis of compassion and it does not refer to just pity without action.
i. This term is used thirteen times in the Old Testament.
ii. Always referring to God, and is related to sthe term for “womb” and thus has the idea of motherly love (Limburg, 91).
3. “slow to anger”
i. It is literally a Hebrew idiom meaning “long nostril” and shows that it takes a lot to be angered (Youngblood, Location 3086).
4. “abundant in lovingkindness”
i. This word was previously used in chapter two during Jonah’s prayer, but now is the basis of a complaint.
ii. It has the idea of strong loyal love as in its use in 1 Samuel 18:1-3 and 1 Samuel 20:14-15 of David and Jonathan’s friendship.
iii. The use of this term to apply to the situation of God’s response to Nineveh shows that God’s covenantal love is not limited only to Israel, but to those such as the Assyrians as well (Limburg, 92).
5. “and one who relents concerning calamity”
iv. You rather not be around to see God saving someone (v.3)
- Apparently Jonah’s reaction to it is so bad he becomes suicidal: “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
- Irony in that Jonah before in chapter two prayed to God to save his soul now in chapter four asks God to take away his soul!
- In light of the parallel of this passage to vocabulary in Exodus 32, there is the ironic contrast between Moses begging God to lay down his life in order for God to pardon Israel (Exodus 32:32) here we see Jonah willingness to lay down his life in begging God to destroy Nineveh (Youngblood, Location 3126).
v. You ignore God’s convicting question (v.4-5)
- God’s response in the form of a question: “4 The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (v.4)
- First of three questions in God’s response to Jonah, in which God challenged Jonah by using his own words (Kohlenberger, 67)!
- This opens the response from God with a question that summarizes the problem.
- Jonah does not even answer God in verse 5, but goes on doing his own thing.
- This is the second time Jonah silently walk away from God speaking to Him (Youngblood, 3246).
vi. You want to see people’s doom (v.5)
- Jonah apparently did not answer God’s question but went on to wait for Nineveh’s destruction. In fact, Jonah was consumed in his concentration of the city as “the city” is mentioned three times in this verse in the Hebrew (Kohlenberger, 68).
- “and sat east of [d]it”—Jonah came over to Nineveh from the west and kept going east to see the city’s destruction.
- Eastward also have a bad connotation of departing for God’s Will in the Bible (Youngblood, 3295):
- After the fall Adam and Eve was driven out to the east of the Garden (Genesis 3:24)
- After being punished by God, Cain settled in land of Nod described as East of Eden (Genesis 4:16)
- “There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.””
- “Shelter” some version “booth”
- This is the same word used to describe temporary shelter in which the Jews lived in the wilderness as instructed by God in Leviticus 23:42-43.
- Over in Leviticus 23:42-43, they built it as a rememberance of God’s mercy, here Jonah built it to wait on God’s wrath.
Picture: (Symptoms are signs of our sickness; don’t just address the symptoms without addressing the deeper heart issue); Running nose, and drinking vitamin C can seem almost irrational.
i. We can have good biblical head knowledge; but do we really own up to it and think about it for our every day world?
ii. Go before God and ask us to reveal these things to us of our problems, and help us change it.
II. See the Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism (v.6-8)
Point: Sometimes we can have blindspot in our lives we need God to show us with a Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism as he is doing here with Jonah.
Passage:6 So the Lord God appointed a [e]plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was [f]extremely happy about the [g]plant. 7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “ Death is better to me than life.”
i. God once again in the book of Jonah shows He is Sovereign, that is, in control with the use of the word“appointed”
- Shows this was not coincidences (Kohlenberger, 43).
- Four times this verb is used in Jonah, three times in this chapter (1:17; 4:6, 7, 8).
- Each time with a different name for God, and when used in the case with “Yahweh,” it emphasizes the gracious and beneficial action of God such as here and in 4:7 (Limburg, 60).
ii. First appointment: A plant for a good shade (4:6)
- Use of the name of God: “Lord God”
Q: Any significance of these two combination?
A: “God” is used in Jonah when God relates to the Gentiles, while “Yahweh” is used in terms of God relating to Jonah, but it is used as a combination here because God is about to show how He dealt with the gentiles of Nineveh will be the way He deals with Jonah (Kohlenberger, 69).
- Plant that provided Jonah shade from the discomfort of the sun!
- Like the storm in the sea, God is using the sun from nature to teach Jonah a lesson.
- Like the big fish, God is using a big plant to show Jonah grace.
- There is a word play going on here where the word “discomfort” in the Hebrew is literally “evil” and God saves him from this “evil” of being overheated though not from Jonah’s own fierce anger yet (Kohlenberger, 69). Thus, Jonah is also spared from the calamity just as Nineveh faced.
- “extremely happy about the [g]plant”—In the Hebrew literally is “rejoicing rejoice.” It is in contrast to verse 1 of Jonah being “displeased with great displeasure” (Youngblood, 3396).
iii. Second appointment: An attacking worm (4: 7)
- Small worm to make a big point.
- Use of the name of God: “God”
Q: Is there any significance of this noun being “God” as opposed to Yahweh?
A: The aspect of God’s relationship to the Gentiles is in view, thus used here to show the analogy God is illustrating to Jonah of how Jonah would have wanted God to deal with the Gentiles is the same way God will illustrate to Jonah. The disciplinary side of God is emphasized here with this choice of term (Limburg, 96).
- “it attacked”
- A term used for judgment upon those who are disobedient in the Scriptures, such as in Deuteronomy 28:22(Kohlenberger, 71).
- God is using the worm’s attack as an analogy of the removal of God’s grace.
iv. Third appointment: A big hot wind (4: 8a)
- “When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head”
- Note what God brings against Jonah:
- “the sun”
i. It would make things hot!
ii. “beat down”
Second instance of this verb appearing in chapter four, previously with the worm as the subject attacking the plant but now as the sun, which shows the undesirable state Jonah was in with this repetition, showing the flow of God’s judgment against Jonah.
2. “a scorching east wind”
i. These are the worst dry wind that the Middle East faced.
ii. The wind is dry and any moisture is extracted from the air with fine dust blowing (Kohlenberger, 70).
iii. Earlier God taught Jonah a lesson in chapter one by wet rainy winds now He is going to instruct Jonah by the opposite means of a dry hot winds (Kohlenberger, 70)!
iv. The external heat is going to be used by God to teach Jonah a lesson about his own internal “heat” (which anger is a Hebrew derivative of)
v. Reverse order than that of chapter 2.
- Chapter 2: Troubling WindsàAnimalàRescue.
- Chapter 4: RescueàAnimalàTroubling Winds.
- Chapter 2: At sea, with problems coming from above. Wet wind.
- Chapter 4: On land, with problems coming from above. Dry wind.
vi. The response:
- The phrase “better I die than I live” echoes the same phrase in verse 3 previously after Jonah complained about Nineveh’s repentance, but here is the response to the plant being gone and the dire whether.
- Unlike verse 3 where Jonah ask God to die, here Jonah talks to himself since the text is literally “He asked Himself to die…” (Youngblood, Location 3430).
- Jonah’s disposition is looking inward while God’s disposition in the book of Jonah has been looking outward (Youngblood, Location 3480).
- Jonah really is not pitying the plant but engages in self-pity!
- The author wishes the reader to see the parallel between Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance with the scenario going on here.
Picture: (Parable of a firefighter who complains that people are saved when he puts our fire with the hose, but saved by another firefighter). YOU ARE THE PERSON!
i. Repetition of Jonah’s lesson: Sometimes what we need to learn the most is not something new, but something we already know or should know or think we know.
ii. Has God changed you with our Jonah series? Are you meditating on God’s Word even as it’s preached, read, etc?
III. Understand the So-Much-More Argument for compassion in evangelism (v.9-11)
Point: If plants are precious to Jonah, how much more the souls in Nineveh!
Passage: “9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which [h]came up overnight and perished [i]overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?””
i. God brings the illustration home in verse 9.
- The phrase “Why do good if it burns against you?” (הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה־לְךָ) echoes the same phrase in verse 4 previously after Yahweh addressed Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance.
- Here it is Yahweh’s response to Jonah’s complaint that the plant being gone and the dire whether. The author wishes the reader to see the parallel between Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance with the scenario going on here.
ii. Observation of Jonah’s response to the plant (v.10)
iii. Argument from the lesser to the greater (v.11)
Concerning those “who do not know the difference between their right and left hand,” these probably refer to children (Kohlenberger, 72).
iv. God’s level of Grace even as He corrected Jonah
- The thirty nine word response of God in 4:10-11 balances Jonah’s thirty nine word response in 4:2 (Limburg, 94). It shows a level of grace of God not lecturing more than He has to even though He could.
- The text use of the name Yahweh in verse 9 is to accent on God’s love and concern (Limburg, 97).
i. How are we to respond?
The book ends with a question which obviously should be answered with a “yes,”
Why a question? Why not show repentance of Jonah? I think it is to provoke us and make us think a little longer with the lesson rather than just see a happy ever after story. Do you evangelize with compassion if God is compassionate?
We might ask how Jonah responded but God does not tell us but instead ends the message with a question of whether or not God will have mercy on Nineveh.
What about you? Do you see God’s mercy? How do you respond to God’s mercy through Jesus Christ?
NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 10
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