Contend Earnestly: "Do you have good reason to be angry?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Do you have good reason to be angry?"

In our previous installment of our study of the book of Jonah, we looked at the biblical definition of repentance. Early on in this series, there was a great discussion about whether Jonah showed true biblical repentance while in the belly of the fish. Chapter 4 makes it clear, however, that he did not.

Notice that in verse 1, it states that Jonah “became angry”. Verse 2 explains the reason for his anger:

“He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”

What staggering pride! Jonah, in essence, is saying “ I told you so” to YHWH in an attempt to justify his ungodly reaction to the salvation of a foreign nation. Remember that it was this same sin that caused him to flee in chapter 1. I would argue that if he truly were repentant in chapter 2, this would not be his reaction to the salvation of so many souls.

He then, still clouded by his own sin, uses one of the most common descriptions of God in the Old Testament for an attempt at further evidence that he is right in his reaction. In a twisted fashion, he attempts to claim the truth that God is “slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness” as proof positive that he has been right all along. And, is characteristic throughout this story, Jonah again dwells on death (1:12, 2:2, 2:5, 4:3, 4:8). “Death is better than life”, he says. You would think that with such an intimate look at the prospect of death in chapter 2, he would have been shaken free from this line of thinking. The Lord responds with a single question:

“The Lord said, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry?’”

Notice, however, that Jonah does not even respond to the Lord. He simply walks away and begins to build his shelter. What unbelievable sin, to refuse to answer your Creator. In our next, and last installment in this series, we will consider the unique way in which the Lord dramatically shows Jonah his sinful attitude.


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