Jonah has experienced quite a bit of God's sovereignty at this point. He ran to Tarshish to escape God's presence, he tried to sleep through the storm while at sea, was swallowed by a fish, survived, was welcomed by his enemies, and preached the good news of God's grace to 120,000 people, they believed, and were saved! Yet,
Jonah was angry.
He was angry that God had mercy on the people of Nineveh. They were spared of God's wrath and destruction, but Jonah was only preoccupied about how he was so angry that he wished to die! To Jonah, seeing his enemies receive God's grace was worse than death. His prayer in verses 2-3 is just a long list of complaints, but at least it's an honest prayer. Jonah shows his true colors in chapter 4. He breaks down, and reflects what we all have a tendency to do ourselves.
Jonah is being selfish. In verses 2-3 he refers to himself 9 times. He's angry that his prediction didn't come true. He is angry that his enemies are being treated the same way he is. He cares about his own reputation, and has no concern for the people of Nineveh. This prayer lays it all out on the table. Jonah is angry, and it's all God's fault in his eyes. Through the honesty of this prayer, Jonah shows the sinful nature we all have.
WE SHOULD LONG TO SEE OTHERS RECEIVE GRACE
In verse 4 God asks,
“Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Jonah didn't reply, but the answer is no. He was sent out of his own land and his prediction was wrong; his enemies won't be receiving judgment. He felt betrayed, and angry at God. What's wrong with this picture? Jonah is completely missing the point of all this. The city of Nineveh was saved from the wrath of God, and Jonah isn't the least bit happy for them. So though Jonah disobeyed the Lord by fleeing to Tarshish, he received God's grace with a second chance to preach the message he was given. In the same way, the people of Nineveh were given a second chance, but Jonah doesn't see it this way. He is being a hypocrite. He wants grace for himself, and not for others. We do this in our own life as we have more tolerance for our own sins, but judge strongly against others who struggle with sins that we do not. We should be glad to see God show grace to others.
WE SHOULD PUT NEED BEFORE COMFORT
Jonah put his comforts before the needs of others. It's comfortable for Jonah to dislike to Assyrians, he should have realized the need of the people of Nineveh to be saved by Gods grace. It's more comfortable not to share the gospel. In the grocery store, the coffee shop, or even at work, it is easier to breeze over an opportunity to share Jesus with someone, than it is to step out. However, this world needs the gospel. Nineveh is in front of us, and we have been called to preach the message we have been given. Jesus died for our sins! This is big news! Someone felt that we were important enough to share the gospel with once, and it's our duty to do the same for others
Jonah didn't see the big picture, but we can learn from his story. We can't let selfishness get in the way of sharing the gospel with others. There is a need for Jesus now. Right in front of us, people are lost and need the Lord. Let's step out. Let's be bold and share God's relentless grace together!