Pastor’s Bible Reading Schedule: Jonah 1-4
Jonah is such a practical book from which we can all learn some valuable lessons. It is a book about the importance of doing the will of God from the heart. Jonah pictures for us two main lessons: the misery associated with rebellion, and the mercies of God that are new every morning. In chapter one, God calls Jonah to go and warn Nineveh about the coming judgment of God. We can all speculate on the reason for Jonah’s disobedience, but really it is not important. Jonah obviously wants Nineveh destroyed and wants nothing to do with showing mercy to them. Maybe it is because the Assyrian army was known for their vicious attacks and lack of mercy. Maybe Jonah had family or dear friends who were on the receiving end of the merciless acts of the Assyrian army. Whatever his reason, Jonah clearly rebels against the command of God and heads the opposite way. You know the story so I won’t restate it here. It is interesting to me that Jonah tried to get as far away from God and everyone else as he could. He went down to the sides of the ship and went to sleep. However, when he was under the chastening hand of God, he knew it. It is a dangerous thing for you or me to try to determine if some else is being chastened. Job’s “friends” obviously got it all wrong. However, we should know if we are being chastened. In chapter two, we find Jonah sitting in the belly of a smelly fish, hating his consequences. His heart is still not repentant even though he hates his consequences. In verse two, Jonah prayed unto the Lord “…by reason of mine affliction…” True repentance is being sorry for what we have done; however, many times we repent because we are sorry we got caught… sorry for the consequences. Jonah was definitely the latter. Chapter four will give us the rest of the story of Jonah’s heart regarding this issue. However, it is interesting to see the mercy of God. Jonah did not have God fooled, but God was rich in mercy and was faithfully extending that mercy to Jonah. He did give Jonah a second chance to obey and Jonah outwardly does what he was told to do. As Jonah preaches the gospel, seeming revival takes place. It seems, in chapter three, that all of Nineveh gets right with God and revival is sweeping the land. God once again shows His mercy. I learned in my counseling training that people hate their sin, when they see it in someone else. We have very little tolerance for where we struggle, when we see someone else struggling with the same sin. I see Jonah struggling with that old sin of hypocrisy. He disobeys God and cries out for mercy while in the belly of the fish, and then he gets mad when Nineveh disobeys God and then cries out for mercy. In chapter four, Jonah turns that anger toward God. “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.” (vs. 1) Why was Jonah so angry? Well, in verse two he tells us the whole reason for his rebellion. Jonah tells the Lord, I knew you would show mercy to them. This was the whole reason I ran to Tarshish! “I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest Thee of the evil.” (vs. 2) In verse four God asks a penetrating question, “Doest thou well to be angry?” Naham will reveal that Nineveh’s repentance was much like Jonah’s… “please get me out of my uncomfortable consequences.” However, Jonah is miserable because the Assyrians are not getting what Jonah thought they deserved. Angry people become angry about everything. So then Jonah complains about the heat, so God shows mercy and grace and has a gourd grow to provide shade. Once again, Jonah is happy with God’s mercy and grace shown to him, but God had another lesson for Jonah. He prepared a worm to be a picture of Jonah’s bitterness and anger. So the worm kills the gourd and it goes away, but Jonah misses the lesson and gets angry that the gourd is no longer providing relief for him. Oh how deceptive anger and bitterness can be. Jonah’s parting words are, “I do well to be angry, even unto death.” (vs. 9) Enjoy the mercy of God and extend mercy to others! Don’t be selfish like Jonah and want God to treat you one way and then treat others a different way.
• Lord, please help me to always be willing to extend mercy to those who wrong me. I know how often you are patient with me; so please help me to be patient with others.
• Lord, please help me to not be a hypocrite. Please help me to rejoice in your grace, mercy, kindness, and long-suffering when you extend it to others.
• Lord, please respond correctly to chastening. Please help me to submit my will to yours and allow you to change me by your grace.
• Lord, thank you for being so merciful and gracious to me. I am so very grateful for your faithfulness to forgive every time I confess my sins. Please help me to model the same character.