What Can We Learn From Jonah? May 3, 2024

It has been well stated that the word “anger” is one letter short of the word “danger.” One does not have to search far to see the emotion of anger on display. Typically, emotions are triggered by a situation surrounding us or by someone’s actions towards us. In the account of Jonah, we see a prophet who was very reactionary. Jonah lived by his emotions, instead of being governed by God.

Jonah was an interesting preacher in the Old Testament. God called him to a specific task – preach to the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2). A task that he murmured and disputed with God about. He was overcome by emotional grumbling. Further, Jonah tried to dispute intellectually with the Lord (Jonah 1 and 4). The prophet got to the place where he would rather die than not get his own way (Jonah 4:3) – what a tragic place to be! His actions and attitude are revealing to us. We must learn from them.

Jonah 4 reveals three things about Jonah:
  1. He quit serving God and others.
  2. He separated himself from others.
  3. He became a mere spectator.

Jonah 4: But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. 10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 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?

This narrative brings an overwhelming curiosity into what Jonah “could have” done and been!
1. Jonah could have remained in the city of Nineveh and taught the Scriptures.
2. Jonah could have led in prayer meetings.
3. Jonah could have been a spiritual leader.
What could God have done with Jonah? We don’t know; the passage ends with a question mark. Like Jonah, many people leave us scratching our heads asking, “What happened?” The fact is, if we allow our emotions to rule our attitudes then we will ruin our lives with sinful actions. When you allow anger to control you, you are in grave danger.
Learn from Jonah. 
Live like Jesus. 

For further study on the life of Jonah, be sure to listen to this teaching by Scott Pauley, or go through Scott’s broadcast series, Salvation is of the Lord.

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