I’m always befuddled when I read chapter 4 of Jonah, mainly because of what comes before it.
I wrote about chapters 1, 2 and 3 last year. But to refresh memory… In chapter 3, Jonah finally obeys God and brings his message to Nineveh. The Ninevites repent and turn towards God and God shows them mercy and doesn’t bring the destruction that he said he would. Yay right? Wrong.
Chapter 4 begins with Jonah showing anger. WHAT!? Jonah showing anger towards God’s great mercy? Very strange indeed. Jonah has gone back to his old ways of not wanting God’s mercy to come upon the Ninevites. Jonah just can’t make up his mind! At this stage Jonah gives the reason why he fled from God at the beginning of the book.
And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
Jonah just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t like that fact that God is showing mercy, he wants God to bring destruction. He doesn’t like it so much that he actually is getting angry with God!