This comes after Jonah had (finally) delivered the message of judgement God sent him to deliver to the city of Nineveh. Funny thing, the people there actually listened to Jonah and repented of their sinful ways, so God had mercy and compassion on them. This made Jonah very upset. After all, he didn’t even want to deliver the message God had given him. He had been swallowed by a whale for 3 days before delivering his warning and felt like judgement should have certainly been carried out!! Maybe sometimes we feel this same way. We give follow the great commission and share the Gospel. We share it with friends and loved ones. We share it with strangers. Sometimes we might even share it with someone we don’t like, so we can get an extra pat on the back. And mostly, people don’t listen. They don’t turn from their evil ways to follow God like we know they should. Like they know they should. No, we share the Gospel, and mostly people listen, nod, and politely move along. Sometimes not so politely. But polite or not, they will usually CHOOSE to continue to pursue whatever pleasures their flesh desires. Just like we used to. And gues what?? Nothing bad comes to them. Some of them even thrive in this world. We watch and wait for the judgement we know THEY deserve. And we just don’t see it. And we get angry or disillusioned because of it. We don’t understand why God lets them live happily in this world without Him, while some of our Christian brothers and sisters struggle. Where is Gods justice??? But we forget that God loves us all, is personally invested in every one of us, even those we think are deserving of his wrath and judgement. We know this, but we forget it. We know we serve a loving, merciful God, who will wait patiently for all his prodigals to come trudging back to him. Just like we did. And just as he did with us…he will go running out to meet them, bring out his best wine, and cook the finest calf. Yes, they will party just as hard in heaven for each of them, just like they did for us. And we DO know this. Isn’t that why we accepted the Great Commission in the first place??
“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?””
Jonah 4:1-11 NIV