November 6, 2021
“So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city....”
“So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’ Then God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘It is right for me to be angry, even to death!’ But the Lord said, ‘You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?’” Jonah 4:5-11
To understand the tension between the Lord and Jonah, it helps to review God’s purpose for the Jewish people. God’s plan was never to quarantine a nation of “chosen” people, apart from everyone else. God’s purpose for the Jews was to be a nation of “priests,” through which all the other nations of the world would see how God can transform & sustain a people. Gentiles were to observe God’s interaction with the Jews, hear their testimony about the Lord, and, in turn, worship Him alone.
“And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:3-6
The vine, which grew up over Jonah, was symbolic of the Lord’s promise of blessing to Israel, but the vine dried up because sin had “wormed” its way onto Jonah’s (and Israel’s) theology, to the point where he had forsaken God’s true calling of being a ‘priest to the nations.’
“But everyone shall sit under his vine and his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.” Micah 4:4-5
“Jonah” is not only a story of how a man forgot his true calling. It is also a warning and a challenge to us Christians, who have received the same calling!
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10