Category Archives: Jonah

Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 41)

Romans 15 says “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (v. 4).  The book of Jonah was written for us!  And this book ends with a question we all ought to ponder.

To His servant who is furious that his comfort has been taken away and his prophesied judgment has not taken place, God makes a statement:  “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow.  It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left — and also many animals?”

Jonah’s concern was for his comfort.  He had no part in planting or assisting that shade plant in growing.  None of Jonah’s skills contributed even a little to that comfort-bringing vegetation.  The only skill Jonah showed in the book was his (finally) preaching to Nineveh, but his preaching was not out of his great concern for those lost people.

God’s concern was for the great city of Nineveh, a city with over a 120,000 children — and many animals!  Why would Jonah not recognize his misplaced concern?  Why don’t we(conclusion)











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Posted by on September 10, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 40)

I heard one preacher say, “The world is so evil.  If I were God, I would have stomped the world to death by now.  Aren’t you glad I’m not God?”  Yes.  We are thankful for God’s mercy.  And He shows that mercy to His sun-burned, suicidal servant whose mantra seems to be “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

God asks His disgruntled missionary, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” (v. 9).  Man was made in the image and likeness of his Creator and possesses a moral system, one aspect of which is his conscience.  But Jonah’s conscience does not appear to have kicked in throughout this book!

He responds, “It is right for me to be so angry that I wish I were dead.”  How should Jonah have responded?  He should have said, “Lord, I’m so sorry for valuing my comfort more than the souls of these Ninevites.  Give me another chance?”  (to be continued)











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Posted by on September 9, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 39)

God is patient, isn’t He?  At dawn the next day we read of God’s action in providing something in addition to the leafy plant that gave Jonah welcomed shade.  God “provided a worm” (v. 7).  Worms are good for many things — scaring moms when one is young, baiting hooks to catch fish, aerating the soil.  This particular worm was created to . . . chew!  And it chewed the leafy plant to such an extent that the plant withered!

A loss of comfort.  How is Jonah going to respond?  Like Jonah, we are thankful for comfort when it comes — and sometimes outraged when it is taken away!  At sunrise, God provided one more item for His recipe of truth — a scorching east wind.  That wind and the sun “blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint” (v. 8).

Again we read that Jonah “wanted to die.”  God’s servant is miserable.  He is ready to watch the show of judgment — and it doesn’t come.  He is enjoying several elements of God’s good creation — and they are taken away.  And now his head is getting sun-burned and his heart is white-hot angry with God.

Jonah’s ethical system kicks in and he says, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”  And then the Lord said, “Okay.”  And then he killed Jonah.  (Not really)  (to be continued)










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Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 38)

Isn’t it just like the Lord to provide comfort for His people, even when His people are angry and anxious for God’s judgment — on others?  Jonah has settled into his shelter, enjoying its shade, waiting for God’s wrath to fall on Nineveh.

We read:  “Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort”! (v. 6).

God provides an additional level of comfort for Jonah beyond his self-made shelter.  God cares about His servant’s discomfort.  How ironic that the Lord would do such a thing for rebellious, unforgiving Jonah.

Then we read, “and Jonah was very happy about the plant” (v. 6).  An interesting study of this book would be the emotional life of Jonah.  What made him angry?  What brought him happiness?

But there he is.  In his double-shade, half provided by his own hands; the other half providentially provided by God the farmer.  But Jonah’s comfort, as he will see, is far from being a permanent condition.  (to be continued)









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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 37)

Again, no answer.  The Lord asked Jonah a question:  “Is it right for you to be angry?” (v. 4).  And he gave the Lord no answer.  Why not?  Well, it appears that Jonah had settled in for a show.  He had gone out and made himself comfortable at a place east of the city.

He made himself a shelter and, hope beyond hope, was waiting to see what would happen to the city.  He still had visions of destruction dancing in his head, wishing that God would again change His mind and bring the prophesied judgment to Nineveh.

We read that “he waited to see what would happen to the city.” (v. 5)  Why would Jonah expect God’s judgment to fall on repentant Nineveh?  ‘Cause he wanted that to happen!

We get things so mixed up, don’t we?  We ask for God’s mercy on those who don’t repent and want God’s judgment on those who do.  But God provides exactly what we need, as Jonah is soon to find out!  (to be continued)








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Posted by on September 6, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 36)

“Let your conscience be your guide!”  That works in much of life, but it isn’t a biblical adage.  I find sometimes that my conscience bothers me about things that don’t matter and doesn’t bother me about things that do!  My conscience (and yours) is fallen, is not perfect, and needs to be shaped by the Word of God.

The Lord appeals to Jonah’s conscience in verse 4 after Jonah has had his temper tantrum.  The Lord asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  “Is it right?”  Hmmmm.   Jonah had set himself up as the final arbiter of right and wrong — and the God of the universe gently challenges him.

I just would have zapped Jonah and moved on to another missionary.  How about you?

But this God is indeed gracious and compassionate and slow to anger!  And He demonstrates those characteristics over and over again with Jonah.  Instead of rebuking Jonah for his suicidal ideations, the Lord raises the question of right and wrong.  The wrongs of Nineveh had gotten God’s attention and He had sent His emissary to pronounce judgment on the people.  But they had repented — and God had relented.  God chose to do what was right in HIS eyes. He withheld judgment.  And Jonah saw this as very wrong and was willing to die for his opinion.

A prayer for today:  “Lord, a big part of my fallenness is that I think I know better than You.  Thank You for not zapping me when I deserve to be zapped.  I praise You for Your patience, kindness, and mercy.  Help me to show the same to others today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  (to be continued)







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Posted by on September 5, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 30)

“WHO KNOWS?” — The Ninevite king knew something.  He knew that he and his kingdom had committed grievous sins against Jonah’s God.  He knew that judgment was coming.  He knew that the only proper response to this kind of holy God was thorough repentance!  Whether repentance would avert this God’s wrath was not known.  But repentance was his only choice.

How refreshing to hear the Ninevite king’s clear and persuasive wisdom in commanding wholesale repentance of his kingdom!  Yes.  Yes.  I know.  “Separation of church and state!”  But this king was convinced that his life and his subjects would soon be separated from their lives!

This king hoped beyond hope that Jonah’s God would “with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”  And he was right to hope!  For Jonah’s God responded.  Seeing their repentance, He “relented.”  He did not carry through with the destruction he had threatened.  There was mercy with this God!

I have a friend who for years served in Christian organizations.  But my friend Mike (not his name) turned away from the gospel and has now embraced a skepticism that nothing will penetrate (it seems).  I’ve tried my best apologetics on my friend.  Nothing brought him to his senses.  Then I spoke of God’s judgment, of hell, of God’s wrath against unbelief.

He became incensed and said, “I will not respond to threats!”  Neither God’s holiness nor His love softened my friend’s heart.  A genuine threat ought to drive us to certain conclusions.  At least it did with the pagan king of the Ninevites. (to be continued)





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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 29)

The Ninevite revival was more than dust and sackcloth.  The king proclaimed to his people: “Let everyone call urgently on God.  Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.  Who knows?  God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (vv. 8-9).

I find this challenge from the Ninevite king amazing!  He calls for a city-wide repentance marked by earnest prayers (to Jonah’s God) and behavioral change.

What is truly fascinating is that the king doesn’t know that Jonah’s God will forgive!  He says, “WHO KNOWS?  God may yet relent . . ..”  This seems to indicate that Jonah never mentioned the possibility of forgiveness, perhaps because he did not want the Ninevites forgiven.

Jonah’s orthodox statement in this chapter — “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown” — is what God wanted Jonah to say.  I wonder, however, if he said it with tears or with taunting?  With grief or with glee?  Judgment from a holy God is inevitable.  How does one prepare for that coming judgment?  Apparently Jonah had no interest in explaining to the Ninevites how God’s wrath could be averted.  (to be continued)






Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 28)

The message — “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown!” — was delivered — and believed!  That’s the best news any preacher could get.  To have one’s message believed is a real blessing.  How did the Ninevites show their belief?  They proclaimed a fast for all of them, from the most common servant to the king himself!  A wholesale, city-wide revival!

Jonah’s message is described in verse 6 as a “warning.”  The king of Nineveh set the example of repentance by stepping down from his throne, removing his royal robes, covering himself with sackcloth, and sitting down in the dust!  What an amazing thing it would be if our government leaders today took exactly the same actions!

The king then used his royal power to proclaim a fast for every living subject in his kingdom!  No tasting.  No eating.  No drinking.  Every living creature to be clothed in sackcloth.  It’s one matter to enforce such actions — it’s quite another to say “Let everyone call urgently on God.  Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.”

Outward signs of repentance can be mandated.  Personal, authentic repentance is voluntary.  My, what an incredible revival Jonah’s “warning” has wrought!  (to be continued)





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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 27)

As we continue our study of Jonah chapter 3 (“Jonah’s Preaching”), I’m reminded of the statement by the American humorist Will Rogers (I think) who said, “I refuse to accept my religion from anyone who earns his living only by the sweat of his jaw!”  The three elements of a calling, an audience, and a message are given to Jonah.  Now it was his choice to go . . . and sweat!

We receive a few details about the city of Nineveh.  It is called “a very large city” and that it took three days to go through it.  I wonder what that felt like for Jonah, a Jew, to walk into the capital city of Assyria, a nation that would enslave Jonah’s own people within several decades!

And his message was not some positive-thinking, your-best-life-today sermon!  His message was a brief eight words:  “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  Forty days.  Forty more days!  Although the text doesn’t tell us, I suspect that the only words in Assyrian that Jonah learned were those eight words.  It is very clear from his reaction in chapter four that he did not want the Ninevites to repent.

If people came up to him and began asking him questions, “Forty days from right now?!  What do you mean, ‘overthrown’?, What can we do?  How do we avoid such a judgment?”, I think Jonah had no answers in their language.  He just wanted them judged!

The Bible says that judgment is God’s “strange work” (Is. 28:21 KJV).  John 3 says that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through [Jesus].” (v. 17).  God prefers to save.  And, aren’t you and I glad? (to be continued)





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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Jonah


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