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 JONAH 4

THE SIN OF ANGER!

 

 

This likely will be an unusual Bible Study Series. I've heard of few Sermons on anger in all my life! But oh, what damage a bad temper inflicts!

And the sad thing about anger is that it's a sin practiced by many Christians! It's nearly socially acceptable in many circles! A sign of stamina and resolve and conviction!

Yet it must have some inherent dangers. I say that because Proverbs 22 warns us: "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."

Of all the Preachers in the Bible, perhaps Jonah best illustrates the silliness of petty anger!

 

"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. 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: 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?" Jonah 4:1-11

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 1:

The fourth chapter of the little Book of Jonah is amazing!

It contains the word "angry" four times! In just eleven verses! Jonah there is one mad Preacher!

His anger has blotted his testimony, hurt his reputation, even stained his very Ministry!

Let's take a few days and see what the Bible says about the short "temper" many Christians possess.

All we're told at first is this: "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry." Jonah 4:1

What "displeased" Jonah? Using a strong Hebrew verb here, "yara," the Holy Spirit indicates that Jonah was so upset he was "trembling or quivering!" That's what "yara" means at its very root! Also in the King James Version it is translated as "grieved," and even "sad" a few times as well.

But even more fully, "yara" employs the Hebrew noun "ra," It singly means "bad" or "evil!" This "displeasure" is a sin! It is not a good thing! God views such an attitude negatively!

On top of that, the adverb "exceedingly" is "gadol" in Hebrew, meaning "great or large in magnitude and extent!" This is big time displeasure! Jonah is nearly beside himself!

Then, immediately, we are even more plainly told that the Prophet was "very angry." The word "charah" in Hebrew means "hot!" Or "furious!" On fire! Burning inside! This is such an intense word that the English Bible adds "very" to complement it.

How could a real Man of God like Jonah react to anything in such an out-of-control way?

What has him so "displeased?"

God has upset Jonah!

Really!

God has forgiven a whole city, Nineveh the Capital of Assyria, of their sins! Wonderful Revival has come. One that lasted many years too! Perhaps numerically the greatest Revival in the whole Old Testament!

The only problem was that Jonah did not want these unpleasant people spared!

It is apparent that Jonah was a well-known Prophet in Israel, nationally recognized. Read this relatively short Paragraph with me. In it you will see something of Jonah's success as a Prophet. "In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher. For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel. And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash." 2nd Kings 14:23-27 can be summarized in just a few words. Whatever Jonah predicted, came true! He had never been "wrong!"

But, on this last preaching mission, that trip to Nineveh, Jonah had proclaimed "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." That was the totality of his Sermon! One Message! Repeated across the whole vast metropolis!

For Jonah, having now completed his Assignment there in Assyria, a vantage point would be found and the waiting and watching would begin! Yes, all that was left for him to do was sit down and occupy himself! The "fire" would fall in just under six weeks! He so wanted to see it!

But it didn't come!

For the first time ever, Jonah would be wrong!

Nineveh would not be destroyed or overthrown in forty days!

They had heeded God's Word!

They had repented!

They had turned from their wicked ways!

God had seen their hearts!

God had forgiven!

Grace had prevailed!

God's wrath had consequently turned!

Judgment was averted!

The Government was safe!

In fact, it would continue for another 200 years, until the days of Nahum the Prophet!

And such a scene upset Jonah!

He was angered deeply!

Grace had interfered with his Ministry!

Repentance had ruined his 100% accuracy rating!

God was blessing where He was supposed to be cursing!

Jonah had placed his own reputation above the very lives and welfare of thousand upon thousands of souls!

That's WHY he was angry!

Such attitudes characterize our anger today too!

Many Christian get upset when they way does not prevail! The family always must please him ... or her! If not, they get mad! He chooses where to eat, every time! Or the place to vacation! Or how the money will be spent! If not, somebody's going to pay! Wrath is about to be vented!

Is anger really that bad?

Or maybe just a little social upheaval?

Let's let the Bible tell us, in Ecclesiastes 7:9. "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools." That says it all!

Think about it!

Meanwhile, Jonah sulks until tomorrow.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 2:

Jonah is "displeased."

In fact, according to Jonah 4:1, he is "very angry!"

And with absolutely no indication of any mood change on Jonah's part, Verse 2 continues: "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." Jonah 4:2

Jonah prays, mad as he can be!

The verb "pray" is spelled "palal" and means to pray in this sense, "to intervene." It is often used of intercessory prayer in the Old Testament. It is possible that Jonah believes he is praying on behalf of his people Israel. After all, it is a known historical fact that the Assyrians were major enemies of the Jewish Nation! Truth be told, Assyria attacked Israel in 721 BC, changing their geopolitical landscape forever!

Jonah is praying to the LORD, all capital letters. This is "Jehovah!" The great "I AM THAT I AM!" This Name for God occurs in Jonah's four short chapters a total of 26 times! By my count the Divine Name "God," being "El" or Elohiym," appears less than 6 times! This is a Jehovah "rich" Text! God in His sterling Character appears! His very Essence being revealed verse after verse!

And if Verse 2, our verse for today, does not accurately reflect God's attributes, no Verse in the Bible does! "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."

Amazing!

The verb "said," in Hebrew "amar," is framed so as to reflect incomplete action. Jonah kept saying to God these things! He would not quit!

While a positive, optimistic view of this Prophet is that he's "praying," he is really "grumbling" to the Lord! "Talking back" some too! He's "mad" at God because God has spared the city of Nineveh!

In so many words "O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country" translates into "Lord, I told you so!" I knew that if I came over here and preached, something like this would happen! Now Nineveh and her whole Nation will be spared! My prophetic warning will not be fulfilled! Israel remains in mortal danger!

The verb "fled" is "barach," just "to run away!" Just as far as Jonah could go! "Tarshiysh," the Hebrew spelling, means "yellow jasper," and probably indicates its prominence as a commercial center. The old-timers mostly said it was in Spain, that direction anyway. Today the consensus concerning its location is "We don't know." Point being, it's a long way from Nineveh!

"Yada," in Hebrew "knew," can portray any level of knowledge, from mere acquaintance to intimacy. Obviously Jonah has walked with God for some time! He knows the LORD well! They have walked together! "Sailed" might be a better verb! Maybe even "splashed" and "swam!"

Jonah, still quite upset, says to God, "I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." What a theology lesson!

"Gracious," or "channun," in all its 13 Bible appearances means "gracious." It's verbal parent means "to bend over or stoop down to someone, an inferior, in kindness!" That's just what God did in the Incarnation! Leading to Calvary! That's Grace!

"Merciful" equals "rachum," Its verbal heritage is "racham," a verb meaning "to fondle or to love!" See the awesome tenderness here please.

God is also "slow to anger!" Much more so than Jonah His Prophet for example! "Slow" or "arek" means "long or deferred or that which tarries!" It does not deny God's anger, just it takes so long to arrive! Too long for Jonah in this case!

The Prophet is not here praising God! No worship intended! He is complaining! Almost as if he is wiser than the Almighty!

Anger almost causes a man or woman to set self on the throne, ignoring all God is!

"Anger" translates "aph," the normal Hebrew noun for "nostril" or nose!" Its idea is "to breathe hard through one's nose," as when furious! Very agitated!

The noun "kindness" is "hesed" or "chesed." It too is realted to that "bend down to be kind" verb we had earlier! Jonah has been "blocked" by God's Grace! Twice he's mentioned it! God's grace was just fine for Israel! It's was pretty good for Jonah too, drowning in the stormy sea! But not for Nineveh!

Jonah wanted to choose the subjects on whom God could cast His amazing Grace!

Unlimited Grace he could not bear!

And he's mad!

"Great" kindness employs "rab," here gloriously meaning "much, many, abundant or exceedingly!" That kind of idea.

On top of all that, God "repents" too easily for Jonah! "Nacham" means "to be sorry!" In the King James Text, it is rendered as "repent" 41 times but as "comfort" or "comforter" or "ease" 67 more times! Total, 108 Old Testament occurrences. At its heart, "nacham" means "to sigh, to breathe strongly," thus by implication "to be sorry." Some Bible translation must rely on the "context" of a word, its "setting" in a verse or paragraph or chapter.

Jonah, mad at God!

At least he is honest enough to admit it!

Most people who do not like something God did will vent their wrath elsewhere! On their mate or one of the children or the Pastor, somewhere!

Proverbs 14:17 says, "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly." Jonah is rapidly proving that point, isn't he?

Or Proverbs 14:29, "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly."

By the way, our Verse today proves a man can be mad and still pray! Probably preach too! But no doubt with limited power!

How do we act then we're mad?

How do we look when we accuse and charge God foolishly?

Much like Jonah I fear!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 3:

Jonah was suicidal!

He was so frustrated, so defeated, so "angry" that he had lost the will to live!

"Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah 4:3

The angry man is often so furious that he loses the ability to think coherently.

His value system becomes skewed. His priorities are all wrong.

The expression "I beseech Thee" translates one Hebrew word, it not even being a verb! "Na" is really an interjection like "oh!" But in the King James Text it is often rendered "beseech," when God is being addressed that is. Jonah is certainly excited, agitated really! That upset! Interjections often show emotional fervor.

The verb "take" or "laqach" in Hebrew means "to fetch" or "to seize." Even "to snatch" at times! It is an imperative here, as is often the case when prayer is being offered. In the Old Testament that is.

The little noun "life" is interesting. It's spelled "nephesh" and means "soul" in 475 of its 751 Bible appearances. Yet understand it is translated "life" 117 other times. Being the predominant word for "soul" however, it shows us that Jonah believed that his very soul was in the Hands of God! He was no nihilist! Nor atheist! Or annihilationist!

Jonah viewed his life on earth in a spiritual sense! The root verb from which "nephesh" descends is "naphash" and just means "to breathe!" One's soul is that part of him or her that "breathes!" The inner man or woman! That's why in the King James Bible it is often rendered as "heart" (15 times) and "will" (4 times) and "desire" (4 times) and even "appetite" (2 times).

Jonah, ever the Preacher, even in his hottest anger still quotes Scripture! "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." Look at the capitalized words. Then listen to another upset Prophet, Elijah! "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." 1st Kings 19:4

Mad, but still spiritual!

Today it might be more important do study this thing called anger than to try to pinpoint exactly why Jonah is so upset!

The reason he is mad this time is not as significant as the fact that he's really been mad off-and-on through the whole Book! He was disturbed at the very Call of God in his life, the commission to go to Nineveh in the first place! He was suicidal during the storm on the ship if you remember, "Throw me overboard!" He'd rather die than go to Assyria and preach!

Jonah might have actually thought that his refusal to go there would result in quicker judgment on those reprobates! He would die that his words might be true! That "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Let them alone. God will destroy them! He, after all, has said to Jonah back in chapter one, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me."

Cain got so angry that he killed his brother Abel. Jonah is so mad that he would kill a whole city, hundreds of thousands of people!

Proverbs 12:16 teaches us, "A fool's wrath is presently known." Jonah certainly made no attempt whatsoever to hide his fury! He's even telling Almighty God about it!

Anger to the degree that it extinguishes a man's very desire to live is quite dangerous!

Anger that would sacrifice a small Nation just to have itself vindicated is also deadly!

Anger that would make a man "talk back" to God is well, really, stupid!

Habitual uncontrolled anger, the kind to which Jonah was addicted, is a character flaw God often addresses in Scripture. For example, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." Proverbs 25:28

What chaos!

A man who can't control anger ... can't control his own spirit obviously! Solomon's word picture is astounding!

We leave Jonah today, still angry at God!

But today expecting "pity" due to his hurt feelings!

In fact, Jonah may be "pouting" just a bit here!

God, I did not get my way! You have not overthrown Nineveh! You've not kept your original Word! I'm mad!

Just kill me!

Sulking like Ahab when he couldn't get Naboth's vineyard, not legally anyway! "And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread." 1st Kings 21:4 shows real grown-up behavior, doesn't it? For a King even!

Lord, spare us from our little pouting spells! From our little "pity-parties!" From our selfishness! From our anger!

Jonah, grow up!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

Yesterday I saw a magazine article about "questions." These are spiritual questions one Believer might ask another Brother or Sister in Christ. "What prayer has God recently answered in your life?" Or, "What's your favorite Book of Scripture?" Questions also are excellent tools in witnessing for Jesus. "Are you saved?"

Any essay, sermon or book about the ministry of questions will mention the fact that the Lord posed many such inquiries. "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Matthew 16:13 here is an example.

So does God the Father! In fact, His first question in Scripture is: "Adam, where art thou?" This, Genesis 3:9, is still a good one to ask those you love! Where art thou spiritually? Are you living close to God, or far away?

I've read that the commentator and preacher Matthew Henry once preached to his congregation a series of sermons on this subject, "The Questions of the Bible." He continued once a week, the mid-week service, for twenty years following that theme! That's a whole lot of questions!

In Jonah 4, a case study in anger, anger in the life of a saint, we hear God the Father asking another question.

Jonah was exceedingly displeased! "Very angry" God said! He even asked God to end his life! "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah 4:3

That's when God asked this penetrating question: "Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?" Now this is a question that God will again ask his perturbed Prophet, nearby in Jonah 4:9. Jonah apparently is not only angry, but stubborn as well!

The status of the verb "amar," in English "said," is one of incomplete action. God may have asked this question more than twice!

That fact alone is pertinent. Our selfish anger and frustration and pouting, just like that of the prodigal's older brother in Luke 15, will unduly occupy the time and attention of our Father! Our Father Who had much rather be His house, in the presence of the rejoicing and adoration and joy that he so richly deserves. Not out in the yard somewhere reasoning with a spoiled son!

Note too that God's Name used here is "Jehovah." The God Who enters into covenant relationship with us! The God Who saves! I always say, "The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament!" Theologically that is correct. God, Who loves and craves fellowship with His children, asks Jonah this incisive question.

"Doest thou well to be angry?"

The verb stem is really "doest well." In Hebrew it's spelled "yatab." It is found just over a hundred times in the Bible, 107 according to actual count. It means "good, pleasing, acceptable," and a few times even "merry!"

"Jonah, are you happy?"

"Is this kind of behavior pleasing to God?"

"Are you, like Paul, seeking to be approved unto God?"

Surely God is challenging Jonah to stop and take inventory!

Jonah, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged," not be judged of God that is! 1st Corinthians 11:31

Then comes the verb "to be angry." It's "charah" again. Literally meaning "hot or burning," then consequently "furious!" Thus we are given some idea of the intensity of Jonah's resentment! "To grow warm, to glow, then to blaze up," one lexicon says! He's getting hotter by the minute!

Christian friend reading here today, what a great thought this is for each of us to apply in our lives! When we get a little "out-of-line" with the Lord, imagine Him, hear Him ask us, "Doest thou well in this matter?"

Oh, how we need to remember that God is watching! Proverbs 15:3 is right. "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Indeed!

Lord, let me often consider this question!

Brother Bagwell, doest thou well today?

In God's Eyes!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 5:

Jonah was not only angry, but a little "strong-willed" too!

One might even call the Prophet "stubborn!"

Even after the people of Nineveh repented, he still thought that God just might send judgment anyway!

After all, the ways of God are amazing! Had He not already sent a mighty storm and a great fish and a spiritual revival unequaled to that time?

So, even after learning of God's Grace and forgiveness to the Assyrians, "God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not," the Prophet lamented, "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."

Then, armed with all that overwhelming data, Jonah still "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." Jonah 4:5

The verb "went out" translates "yatzsa," meaning "to go out or to come out" and "to go forth or to come forth" well over 900 times in Scripture. Its sense of "time" might hint that Jonah had this little place outside the city where he retreated from time to time, "incomplete action" in other words.

The verb "sat" or "yashab" suggests that he intended to "remain" or "dwell" there a while! God had changed His mind once, maybe He would again! Perhaps fire would yet fall! If so, Jonah's original words, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown," would still be fulfilled!

This may have been why the Preacher was so mad anyway!

Bible history tells us that every time Jonah had prophesied an event, it occurred just like he said! Jonah's "accuracy rate" was 100%. I think he was upset that it was about to change to maybe as low as 50%, completely unacceptable to the Prophet!

Things like Grace and Revival and Repentance did not rate as highly to Jonah as did things like Prophecy and personal reputation!

Of course Jonah's cause might be called "politically correct" too! The Assyrians were fierce enemies of Israel! Jonah's callousness could be interpreted as sheer patriotism if one so desired!

Often so-called good things serve as veneers to selfishness or some other form of hidden sin!

The word "east" is "qedem," really meaning "the front" of anything. Remember that the Jewish Tabernacle always faced east. The sun rises in the east, a picture of the coming of the Lord too. "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings." Malachi 4:2 pictures the spreading rays of the early morning sun as "wings" of goodness and grace! Jonah has not forsaken God, he just wants God to behave a little more to the Prophet's liking!

Or maybe, as one commentator suggested, it was just that the best place to watch the city was, geographically, from the east! The "lay of the land" sort of thing!

Anyway, "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."

The word "booth," a little "sukkah," was just a "covert, pavilion or tent" of some kind, lightly constructed no doubt. It was a "den," maybe even built out of tree limbs. Although the word is once translated "cottage" in Isaiah 1:8, "a cottage in a vineyard."

In Jonah's favor, he was willing to live just about anywhere in God's Service! Aboard ship! Inside a whale! And now in a little "lean-to!"

The noun "shadow," as one would suspect of "tzsel," means a "shade." Obviously the sun was hot! Three times it is related as "defence" in the Bible. Protection!

Maybe Jonah thought in his great anger that, so far, the Lord had been protecting the wrong people! The Prophet nearly drowning and the heathen being spared!

To "see," utilizing the common Hebrew verb "raah," means "to inspect, to consider," to look that closely! He kept on looking too, day after day it appears. How long? Nobody knows but the Lord!

The verb "would become," in Hebrew "hayah," means "happen, come to pass, or exist."

Jonah is not thinking clearly!

His madness, his anger, is deceiving him!

Proverbs 27:4 says, "Anger is outrageous." Jonah is certainly proving that point!

In a sermon at least indirectly aimed at anger, Paul warns us: "If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Galatians 5:15 here verbalizes the feelings that were in Jonah's heart! He hoped for the destruction of thousands of people ... just so his reputation could remain untarnished!

Anger is self-centered indeed!

Just like 1st Corinthians 13:5 teaches us that real love "seeketh not her own," so Jonah proves that bitter wrath does "seek its own!" It is indeed selfishness personified!

Lord, forgive us of our angry temper tantrums!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 6:

Jonah the Prophet was the recipient of several things "prepared" of God! Each of these was a "tool" or "object lesson" in Jonah's continuing education, spiritual education!

"Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Jonah 1:17

"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." Jonah 4:6

"But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered." Jonah 4:7

"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." Jonah 4:8

In each case the verb is identical, "manah" in Hebrew, meaning "to assign, appoint, ordain, reckon." In fact, the verb most often means "to count or number" things! Also "manah" in each case is framed as a piel verb, expressing intense vigorous action on God's part!

The Lord is laboring rigorously to teach Jonah obedience and submission and to corral him into the safety of God's Will!

Since three of these four "prepared" items are in chapter four, our Text, we must give them special heed.

Today we focus on 4:6, "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."

The Names of God employed here, while occurring 546 times in tandem in the Bible, are only this one time so found in Jonah. That's surprising! Now "Lord" alone is used there 25 times, Jehovah. And "God" another 15 times, Elohiym. But "Lord God" is unique to Jonah 4:6.

Maybe we are being shown God's holy exasperation by now! Then again maybe God's unending love! Jehovah Elohiym is the God Who is eternal and interested in covenant relationship with mankind and Who also is all-powerful and triune in Nature; Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

There is sin here somewhere, thus Jehovah's Presence! Anger, self-will and rebellion in Jonah's heart!

And something has recently been created, thus Elohiym! A vast gourd bush, tree-like in size!

The word used for "gourd" is "qiyqayon," meaning at its most basic level a "plant." But this is a supercharged plant! Likely, as was the great fish, specially build by God for this occasion! Tall and leafy and offering much shade, having appeared overnight too!

The verb "made to come up" is just "alah" in Hebrew and means "to ascend, to climb, to shoot forth!" The temporal sense of the word suggests that the vine is still growing even as Jonah enjoys it!

"Over" translates "al," suggesting on "top" of Jonah! It reached the roof of his little shack!

The verb "deliver" is "natzsal," suggesting that Jonah's grief was deeply imbedded in his heart, something needing to be "snatched or seized or stripped away" from him!

And the "grief" itself is "ra!" That little noun means "evil or wicked or wickedness" 526 of its 663 times in Scripture, King James Version! Now it is true that a few times it means "sad" or the like, but it's not hard to discern here God's view of Jonah's "mood!"

But maybe the most alluring part of the Verse is its last clause. "So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd."

The adjective "exceeding" is "gadol," meaning "great or large," both in magnitude and extent and intenisty! Superlative gladness!

So "glad" that his face did "shine!" In Hebrew "samach" means "to brighten up," to reflect an emotional radiance!

And "of," used in relation to the gourd tree, is again "al" in Hebrew, "over or above" and at times "because" of something.

Here's the point today.

Jonah is so angry, so ego-centric, so selfish that he wants everything in life to center around himself! Angry people are that way!

That's most often why they are mad! Things did not fit their mold!

He is happy if an insignificant bush, yea a tree, gives him some comfort! After all, God has worked especially on Jonah's behalf again!

But Jonah is not happy over a whole city repenting and being delivered from God's Mighty Hand of judgment! Because that fact does not place Jonah in good "light" as a Prophet! He has preached that the city would be overthrown in forty days!

See the ego-mania here?

We are dealing with a man who is so angry he can't think straight! Life has become distorted, being viewed only through the lens of self-interest!

A man like this is dangerous! We are taught to stay away from him! "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." Proverbs 22:24-25

Just like King Herod, who was "exceeding wroth" in Matthew 2:16, Jonah wished for the deaths of multitudes, Assyrians! All this death for self-aggrandizement!   "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men."

No wonder Jesus equates such anger with murder! Here's what He said in Matthew 5:21-22. "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." John does this too, of intense anger anyway. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." 1st John 3:15

Be careful with that "little" thing called anger!

In God's eyes it may be bigger than you think!

Angry words! They always accompany angry feelings!

And Jesus again taught, "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Matthew 12:36-37

It is just not that surprising that in the Bible the habitually angry man is a fool! "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly." Proverbs 14:17

He is also a proud man! And a scorner! "Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath." Proverbs 21:24

Anger!

Paul said, "Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice ..." and the list continues! It's just that these first three will take a while to conquer!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- As indicated in the lesson God's precise Name "Lord God" is only used in Jonah 4:6. However, when Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, praying his great prayer of repentance and trust, twice He called the Lord His "God!" See Jonah 2:1 and Jonah 2:6.

The miraculous "gourd" bush or tree, "qiyqayon," was a "plant" indeed! That's what the word means. Yet it may have been something as common as a "vine." If so, what an object lesson the Prophet was being given! The principle of "abiding" being illustrated in his very presence! Fruit-bearing too for that matter! The main point of our Verse is not the precise botanical identification of the gourd species, but the spiritual truth it teaches.

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 7:

God is teaching Jonah!

The Prophet's anger has retarded his spiritual growth!

We now know that sin, unconfessed sin, will do that. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 66:18

Jonah, who could not rejoice over the greatest revival in the Old Testament, the repentance of Nineveh, nevertheless was ecstatic over a massive gourd bush that had miraculously grown overnight, providing the Prophet shade and comfort!

Angry as he is, pouting and sulking and "talking back" to God, Jonah was temporarily and partially "pacified" by this silly vegetation.

That is, until ...

"God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered." Jonah 4:7

Anger often puts a person on an emotional "roller-coaster." Depressed one day and delighted the next! Anger thrives or withers based solely on personal circumstances. Has that latest "issue" improved? How am I feeling today? No one else, just me!

Most anger is intensely self-centered! Vain! "Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath." Proverbs 21:24

God, teaching Jonah how very misplaced his values have become, will now "remove" the source of his selfish pleasure! Again today's Verse: "But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered." Jonah 4:7

The Lord giveth! The Lord taketh away! That's what Job said! "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." But not Jonah!

But notice how God "smote" Jonah's little "play pretty." That verb "smite" is "nakah," to kill!

The Lord "ordained" or "assigned" a little worm to the task! The verb "prepared" translates "manah" in Hebrew, most literally meaning "to count!" The implication is that God has prepared other such worms as well!

The term "withered" means "dried up," but also carries the secondary idea of being "ashamed or confounded."

Here's Almighty God, Who is "higher than all the nations of the world," working one morning with a little "worm," because of a Prophet who can't control his temper!

Now let's see if anyone agrees with this point of doctrine. God is still God, still good, still on the Throne, still faithful ... whether my day contains a flourishing gourd bush or a gnawing worm!

Paul would have reminded us, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 includes both bushes and insects!

Each, had Jonah been "under control" and "right" with God, should have been sources of amazement and wonder to Jonah! Both, after all, are among the works of God!

But, Preacher Bagwell, who could ever get excited about a pesky little "worm?" Especially one that's so destructive! Call the exterminator!

Just a second!

Let's study that word!

I am suggesting to you that had Jonah been less angry, more perceptive, more attuned to the Spirit of God, he would have been running around his booth shouting and worshipping the day that little worm appeared!

"Worm" is spelled "tola" in Hebrew. The word occurs just over three dozen times in the Old Testament.

It's root meaning is, get this, not only "worm," but also "scarlet or crimson!" It seems this little creature would have been a prized possession in those days, in certain professions anyway. They were collected, then crushed to death, thereby yielding a beautiful blood-red paste! This new substance was then used as a "dye" to color certain garments, especially those used in the worship of God!

The "scarlet" color in the priests' robes, the tabernacle and temple accessories, and in certain Bible prophetic Bible Passages ... all point to the coming Saviour!

Jesus the Messiah and His shed Blood on the Cross of Calvary!

Vicarious Death!

The Means of our salvation!

And here's proof.

In Psalm 22, the Old Testament's most explicit description of Jesus dying on the Cross outside of Isaiah 53, we find Jesus comparing Himself to this lowly little "worm," this "tola!"

"But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." Psalm 22:7

Jesus was lowly!

Jesus was crushed!

Jesus bled!

Yet Jesus' Blood washed away our sins!

This particular use of the little "tola" worm was surely common knowledge in Jonah's day! And he, being a Prophet thus a student of Scripture, would have known its significance!

Do you get it?

Jonah got excited about a green leafy bush ... for his own comfort!

And dismayed about a worm that disrupted his personal delight, even though the worm was a "picture" of God's Plan of Salvation!

A salvation that had just come en masse to the people of Nineveh!

Jonah's "happiness" was thus more important than the spiritual welfare of those multitudes!

Jonah should have been thrilled when the little worm appeared!

We yet today get happy about the wrong things!

Our little "peeves" and "frustrations" blind us to the beauties of life, especially in the spiritual world!

Look!

A "tola" worm!

And he is eating my false sources of delight!

What is God saying?

This, just this!

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14

Today, instead of anger and pouting and sulking and selfish interests, let me be thankful that I am saved by the Grace of God!

Having had an experience, a continuing one, with the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!

That is enough to make any child of God happy!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 8:

Often when we fail one test, a test from the Lord, He simply sends another, quite like the first one!

The Lord often "tries" or "tests" His people. Otherwise we would never mature and develop in Christ! Listen to Jeremiah, "But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee." Jeremiah 12:3

The Lord asked Jonah to go preach in Nineveh, capital city of Assyria. Jonah ran the opposite direction, failing the test!

After some pretty strong "persuasion," a violent storm and a three-day ride in the belly of a great fish, Jonah took the test again, remedial obedience 101! Off to Nineveh he goes!

Jonah, doing now exactly what God said, preached judgment. "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah 3:4 tells us this. And the people repented! Then God, good as He is, suspended His judgment! He favorably responded to the brokenness of the people! Surely Jonah will be glad!

But, no!

The Prophet fails another test! God cannot be sovereign around Jonah! The Preacher is angry, apparently because of God's change of mind! Listen to him. "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." Jonah 4:2-3

By now Jonah has failed two tests!

Next we find the Prophet, all mad and pouting and sulking, sitting outside the city of Nineveh waiting to see if maybe God changes His mind again! Jonah seems to have wanted these people torched with fire or something!

Hot and dry, on the verge of a sun-stroke, Jonah waits there. God graciously prepares for His Man a bushy gourd tree, growing miraculously, overnight! This finally gets Jonah excited! But it's another test from the Lord!

A little worm, yes God is Lord of the worms too, is prepared and send to devour the gourd bush! Jonah gets mad again! That is, if he ever got over his first "hot" spell of fury! God was teaching Jonah the heavenly "values" system! A whole city of sinners getting saved should bring more joy and delight to a Christian than a little bit of growing vegetation! Jonah's priorities are centered totally around himself it seems! That's a sure recipe for failure with the Lord!

Jonah missed it again!

Then we come to today's Verse, Jonah 4:8. And, not too surprisingly, it's another test! They will continue to come ... until Jonah learns! "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."

Now, even the weather is going to irritate the Prophet! Mad at the weather! That's being irritable!

The verb "prepared" is a Hebrew term, "manah," primarily meaning "to count!" God controls the winds and clouds and rain! This is just another weather system from His mighty Hand! Listen to the Prophets: "The LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." And God, "maketh the clouds his chariot: and walketh upon the wings of the wind" too!

The word "vehement" is "chariyshiy" and basically means "silent!" Most teachers say it was a "deafening" wind, blowing that hard! The verb for the sun's action that day, "beat" is strong! "Nakah" literally means "to strike or smite or even slay!" Jonah's "head" specifically being mentioned, one wonders if he might have had little hair as did Elisha of earlier times.

Instead of learning that God is Almighty, granting repentance to sinners (Nineveh) and controlling horticulture (the gourd) and the animal kingdom (the worm), not to mention the weather (the wind) ... Jonah failed yet again!

He "fainted!" This verb "alaph," means "to be covered, to see things going blank or dark." It's what happens when one loses consciousness, "blacking out" some say.

Instead of bowing and worshipping Almighty God, which the patriarch Job did in his times of disappointment, Jonah falls victim to self-pity! "He fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live."

This verb "wished," in Hebrew "shaal," is often used in the Old Testament when people are praying! It means "to ask, beg or desire."

Suicidal again!

Or so he says!

Juvenile might be a better word!

When God gave him a golden opportunity to die, swimming around in the boisterous sea after being thrown overboard in that storm, Jonah did not deliberately drown! No! He prayed diligently! He fought to live! He obviously did not want to really die!

Angry people use their emotions to manipulate others!

Whatever Jonah's strategy here, it has failed again!

God is not favorably impressed!

Listen to this nugget of wisdom. Jonah laments, "It is better for me to die than to live."

If that's the depth of his spirituality, we best be glad God told him what to say when he preached! Word-for-word too! No telling what he would have concocted on his own!

We today have viewed a man, one who should have known better, throwing a temper tantrum!

See how silly he looks?

Well, we look no differently when we throw ours!

"Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly." Proverbs 17:12

Out of control!

Yes, anger is habit-forming!

Jonah is on a "roll!"

"A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again." Proverbs 19:19

Get it?

"Again and again and again!"

Lord, deliver us!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, VERSE 9:

God's Prophets are strong-willed men, fearless and determined indeed!

Their character is such that often the Lord Himself has to "correct" them a bit! Moses experienced God's Hand of discipline! When he struck the Rock, instead of speaking to it! "And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Numbers 20:12

Jeremiah was chastened too! "Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth ...." Jeremiah 15:19

And Jonah was no exception! Listen to God accost His Prophet. "And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?" Jonah 4:9 opens with a piercing question. "Angry" is the word "charah" again, "burning hot or furious!"

Jonah was livid because his comfort-producing gourd bush had died!

Such anger, every Christian knows but Jonah, is wrong, sinful!

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you." Ephesians 4:31

Whereas most of God's Preachers, having been so sternly rebuked by God, would have immediately repented ... Jonah did not!

He talks back, irreverently, to the Lord!

Much like the Prodigal Son's older brother argued with his Father outside their house, keeping him from the celebration of grace continuing nearby, so does Jonah!

He debates with God!

Listen to him: "And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death." Jonah 4:9

The verb "do well" is spelled "yatab" in Hebrew. Jonah has done no wrong, according to himself anyway!  He is then "merry, pleased, comfortable," in his attitude here! Not a bit of humility is seen anywhere!

Yes, his "hot" temper is acceptable to God, so he believes!

Then Jonah's anger takes another typical leap! He says something he just does not mean! "Even unto death!"

I'm so mad I could die!

Lord, I'm not changing if it kills me!

Again like Moses, Jonah is sinning with his tongue and his temper! That's Moses who "spake unadvisedly with his lips," according to Psalm 106:33

Solomon tells us in Proverbs 19:11, "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger." Well, then, Jonah had no discretion! The word is "sekel," meaning "prudence and understanding." To "defer" is just "to prolong."

It's likely that Jonah is mad because his personal reputation was being diminished! And that was because of God's amazing Grace! His wonderful interfering Grace! His city-saving Grace! His Revival-bringing Grace! His impossible-to-control Grace!

Jonah's prophecy, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown," would not now be enacted! The Assyrian people had humbled themselves and sought God's Face!

Here's the exchange again: "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." Jonah 4:9

Here is dialogue, consisting of two opposing wills!

One, God's convicting power!

And secondly, Jonah's ever-resisting temper and stubbornness!

Paul asked in Romans 9:20, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" The right answer is "no!"

Then, when God does something a little displeasing to us, let's stay quiet!

Be ... "swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath," so preached James in his little Epistle.

Arguing with God ... over a gourd tree!

How sad!

By the way, name some of the "little things" you've "stewed" over lately! Like arguing with your wife or husband over some silly situation ... yet still in defiance of God's Word!

Anger robs one of his or her godly perspective!

This dialogue we've studied today is almost at a "stand-still," until Jonah can overcome his self-will!

But did that ever happen?

And I am not at all sure we know the answer to that question!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, VERSE 10:

The best way to read the Book of Jonah is through the eyes of this amazing but angry Prophet.

Jonah is upset both at the beginning and at the end of the Book!

In fact, things seem to get worse as the Book develops.

Early in chapter one Jonah is called of God to go preach to the people of Nineveh. He does not agree with God's plan at all! He runs! Fleeing toward Tarshish, the opposite direction of Nineveh, Jonah is already beginning to fester in anger. It's still somewhat subdued, but there nonetheless!

Late in chapter four Jonah is so mad, mad at God it seems, that he is back-talking the Almighty, disrespecting Him blatantly! And again, the basis of that foolish talk is the Prophet's great anger.

Apparently all this wrath centers around Jonah and his personal desires!

He did not want to travel to Nineveh and preach!

He did not want to give them an opportunity to repent.

He did not want to be the Prophet associated with Assyrian revival!

He did not want to live under certain circumstances!

He did not want to be hot, uncomfortable, outside the City. This would have been after their response to God's good Grace!

He did not want his little but fast-growing gourd bush to perish!

He did not want the weather to turn so violent!

He did not want to see any more worms!

And he did not want to be bothered by the Lord!

And if Jonah did not get what he wanted, anger seethed!

How selfish can a person be?

All of Jonah's behavior can be explained, I believe, by one simple Verse of Scripture. It is lifted from an account of the life of King Jeroboam, Jeroboam II we say in order to distinguish him from the first Jeroboam, wicked King of Israel. Moral wickedness but commercial and financial success grew side by side in Israel ... for a while. "Jeroboam restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher." 2nd Kings 14:25 is so illuminating! Jonah had one previous and great prophecy to his credit. Israel would materially prosper even further, expanding her borders! The geographical area described is vast, even including present-day Damascus! This earmark, fulfilled prophecy, is one of the very qualifications for a real Old Testament Seer! In fact, according to Deuteronomy 18:22, here is the test for determining authentic prophetic ministry. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

See?

When Jonah had been asked to prophesy a second time, his Message would have had to go as follows: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah 3:4 records those words verbatim. Then, of course, this exact event must come to pass! Otherwise Jonah's reputation will be diminished! His prophecy quotient would drop from 100% to 50%, all in one brief evangelistic crusade! Plus this, one of Israel's most dreaded and most hated enemies, the Assyrians represented by the people of Nineveh the Capital, would be spared! Yes, Nineveh must be destroyed!

This is the "story behind the story" in Jonah I believe.

So, back to Jonah chapter four, Jonah was glad about the gourd but sad about the revival! All because of his selfish interests!

God is reasoning with Jonah, perhaps being more patient with him than with the Assyrians!

"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." Jonah 4:10

To "have pity" translates "chus," meaning "to have compassion." It's the very same verb used in the next Verse when God is said "to spare" Nineveh. These are the only two occurrences of the verb in all of Jonah's recorded prophecy.

The little gourd bush that miraculously grew into a tree was a manifestation of God's wonderful grace! Jonah did not ask for it. He did not deserve it. He did not work to produce it. He did not plant it. He did absolutely nothing to make it grow. He just enjoyed it!

That's Grace, folks!

God's unmerited Favor!

Then, when God's gift of grace perished, from a worm attack and a season of bad weather, Jonah was angry! Depressed even!

God's Grace in nature was appreciated!

Again, not entirely for its own sake or for God's Glory I suspect. Rather, because it comforted Jonah, still watching out for "number one!"

And still selfishly angry!

But, as we shall see tomorrow, Jonah's anger at Nineveh's repentance, another manifestation of God's good Grace, was not appreciated at all!

And which is more valuable in God's Eyes?

A gourd plant or a nation of lost souls?

Jesus answered that one in Matthew 16:26. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

But with Jonah; upset, pouting, selfish, angry and now illogical Jonah; leafy vines rank much higher than lost souls!

That's how spiritually dangerous anger can be!

It can throw everything in one's spiritual life out of order!

Yes, Proverbs 27:4 is right. "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous." No doubt about that!

It's probably a good thing that Jonah did not live in New Testament days. For Paul teaches us that one of the requirements for Preachers nowadays is "not soon angry!" Titus 1:7

That's a good thing to remember, isn't it?

And for all you who are not Preachers, "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth." This is Paul again in Colossians 3:8. Look at the top of the list, "anger and wrath!"

Be careful with anger!

Preachers and all other Believers too!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11, VERSE 11:

The Lord was the first to speak in Jonah chapter one. "Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah 1:1-2

And the Lord is the last to speak in Jonah chapter four. "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: 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?" Jonah 4:10-11

Between those two speeches of God; Jonah misbehaves, a beautiful prayer is prayed, a great Old Testament Revival occurs, and a rather large number of miracles are needed.

And Jonah's misbehavior, from beginning to end, is associated with his great anger.

Listen to the last conversation between the Prophet and the Lord. "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." Jonah 4:9

The Book of Jonah ends with God trying to reason with his pouting Prophet, whose most recent outburst was triggered by a little gourd bush! It quickly appeared and flourished, then just as quickly died!

This upset Jonah, making him even more angry, the gourd being used for his personal comfort and ease!

That's when God spoke again, reminding Jonah of his compassion for the gourd. "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." Jonah 1:10

But then, immediately, God continues: "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?" Jonah 4:11

The verb "hast had pity" than Jonah used in Verse 10 is identical to the verb "should spare" that God uses in Verse 11. "Chus" means "to regard with concern and tenderness" as well as "to pity, to spare." Jonah's concern for the bush or God's concern for lost souls in Nineveh, which is most important? God is beautifully speaking with "word pictures," a practice Jesus continued while on earth hundreds of years later! Hence, His many wise Parables!

The city of "Nineveh" was named for a warrior named Ninus, who is also believed to have been its first Monarch. There is evidence to indicate that "Ninus" means "son" also. The city's name in Hebrew is "niyneveh." God took notice, all in His good Grace, of a wicked heathen city named for a son! This same God has prepared another City, also in honor of a Son, His only begotten Son! Once, in Revelation 21:2, this celestial City is compared to the Bride of this mighty Son! "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." And gloriously, in the second City, there will be no anger! No sulking saints! No remedial questions!

It is interesting how the Bible grammatically names these "sixscore thousand." The account literally reads "shenayim asar ribbo," meaning "two ten myriads!" The numbers two and ten equal twelve, of course. And the noun for "myriads" is often calculated as "ten thousand." Thus we have "twelve multiplied by ten thousand," totaling 120,000 souls.

This huge number is said to not be able to "discern between their right hand and their left hand." This either means there existed that many children who could really not tell their right from their left ... or that many adults who were so ignorant of spiritual things they lacked the basic capabilities of discernment. Spiritually ignorant, in other words. If one assumes that children are meant, that sure makes the population of the whole city gigantic! Upwards of a million maybe! And if one equates the 120,000 just to naive adults, the city seems too small for existing archaeological data. God knows which it was. Either way, it was a great Revival, a great manifestation of God's Grace!

The verb "discern" is merely "yada," occurring nearly a thousand times in Scripture. It means "to know" and can be used in a wide variety of circumstances. From casually knowing someone, a new acquaintance even ... all the way to complete intimacy with one's wife.

The "right hand" is "yamiyn," three times translated "south" in the King James Text! That's because when a person faces east, his right hand points southward! "Yamiyn" is also rendered as "hand" 105 more times and "right" 24 times in the Old Testament.

Then the Lord, who had just used a little worm as an object lesson and sacrificed a bit of leafy vegetation to the violent east wind, reminds Jonah that He spared the city's cattle too!

Jonah was glad about his gourd bush, a tree really!

He was mad at the worm too!

And he hated that blistering windstorm as well!

Couldn't he rejoice over untold numbers of cattle who will not die, maybe being incinerated had fire fallen on Nineveh, "Sodom and Gomorrah" style?

The noun for "cattle" should be familiar. "Behemah" is similar to the "behemoth" of Job 40:15, some giant creature God created! The word actually means "beast" 136 times and "cattle" 53 times in the Bible. Here we see God's tender care for his animals, the work of his hands too! "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10 here is telling us that a godly man will properly care for his animals! And that the wicked, even when he "thinks" he is being kind, is really still quite mean!

Jonah, you anger has you confused!

Get right with God!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12, CONCLUSION:

The Book of Jonah ends abruptly.

The Book of Acts does this too.

The Parable of the prodigal son might be added to the list. Did the older brother ever apologize?

Some stories God just does not finish ... not yet.

When Jonah chapter four closes, the Prophet is still angry!

Still sitting outside Nineveh!

Still waiting for judgment to come!

Truth be told, we do not know when or if Jonah ever got right with God!

We do know that temper, uncontrolled anger, is a terrible thing!

It's habit forming!

We also know that any Believer in our Lord Jesus Christ who had come near Jonah while he was in such a state of rebellion and rage would have had to immediately depart!

Why?

Scripture teaches us to do so! "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." Proverbs 22:24-25

Thirty seconds of genuine repenting would have restored sweet harmony and fellowship between Jonah and God. But Jonah's stubbornness apparently prevailed.

God had diligently tried to restore Jonah, lifting him out of his bad attitude, away from his anger.

But Jonah insulted the Lord. "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." Jonah 4:9

What about you, dear friend?

Has your temper robbed you of spiritual treasures?

Are you bitter at God because He did not obey your will?

Are you wrapped up in the "little things" of life, maybe not worms and gourds and the weather, but little nonetheless?

Have you today missed the vast scope of the Grace of God?

Have I?

One ancient source of history said that the tomb of Jonah was located in Nineveh!

I hope not!

I would like to believe he repented, weeping bitterly over his temper and anger and bad attitude.

That he went back to Israel and served God for years to come!

But, truthfully, if he did so we are not told of it in Scripture.

Jonah did not enjoy the blessings of being able to read the Epistles of Paul. Had he done so he would have found words like these. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you." Ephesians 4:31

"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth." Colossians 3:8

And even, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." 1st Timothy 2:8

Once when Paul did get mad, using sharp words, he immediately apologized. "And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Acts 23:1-5

Jonah did not conquer anger that easily!

Of course, Jonah's Ministry apparently did not equal Paul's either!

Anger is costly!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

JUST ONE MORE ARTICLE:

Sometimes it is hard to "quit" when discussing God's precious Word!

For nearly two weeks now we have been studying the fourth chapter of the Old Testament Book of Jonah.

Among other things it displays a Preacher, a Prophet of God, who had a temper! An out-of-control temper!

Jonah there was angry, very angry, even angry unto death! When confronted by God about his problem, Jonah defended himself! "I do well to be angry," he snorted!

And, perhaps worst of all, the little Book ends ... with Jonah still mad!

Mad, with all the little attending earmarks of such anger! Pouting! Depression! Wanting to be alone! Filled with vengeance! Illogical, if not incoherent!

Today, in our last look at anger, let's consider what the Bible says elsewhere about this sin.

I know some of you will say; "Brother Bagwell, anger is not always wrong!"

You are correct!

We need to be angry at the Devil!

And at sin!

Even Paul wrote, "Be ye angry, and sin not." Ephesians 4:26

And Mark 3:5 tells us of our Lord, perfect and sinless, "And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other." There's an example of righteous indignation, anger without a taint of sin!

But still, in the vast majority of Bible references to anger, it is condemned or belittled or discouraged. Often outright forbidden!

I pray the Holy Spirit of God will "attach" some of these verses to our hearts! If so, anger will  have a more difficult time rooting itself into our lives!

"Wise men turn away wrath." Proverbs 29:8 alone should do the job!

Proverbs 15:1 adds a little practical advice. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."

Learn this phrase, "slow to anger!" It's from Proverbs 15:18. "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife."

Look at this one. "An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression." Provertbs 29:22

An "angry" man has no self-control, or very little anyway! "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." Proverbs 25:28 sounds spiritually dangerous!

And here's a comparable verse, too good to omit. Proverbs 16:32 declares, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

And even when Paul did allow the possibility of being angry and not sinning, he further warned: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

This ought to impress us too. "The LORD is slow to anger." Nahum 1:3

Even women can have a temper. "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman." Proverbs 21:19 presents quite a choice, doesn't it?

Again, "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house." Proverbs 23:24

Yet here is one good use for anger. "The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue." Look angry the next time a gossip comes around, spreading his garbage! Look him right in the eyes! With no smiles and no nods and no encouragement! Look mad! He will not tarry long! Your angry countenance will drive him away! He will sense that you do not want to hear his slander! Proverbs 25:23

Then, "Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath." Nobody wants to be called a scorner, one of the most despicable characters in the Bible! Proverbs 21:24

Lastly, an angry man is not a wise man according to Ecclesiastes 7:9. "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools." See that? Solomon used the word "fools!"

Surely, now, enough has been said!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

LET'S THANK GOD FOR JONAH CHAPTER 4! WHAT A "RARE" LESSON IT TEACHES US! LITTLE IS SAID THESE DAYS ABOUT AN OUT-OF-CONTROL TEMPER!

 

 

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