Jonah was the angry patriot prophet. Jonah was a prophet who was a patriot. And he was a patriot who was a prophet. In reading the book of Jonah, it seems that he was a patriot before he was a prophet. At least, that is the way I read it.
Jonah admits to believing God would forgive 120,000 enemies of Israel if they repented. When God told Jonah He wanted him to preach to Nineveh, Jonah went in the opposite direction. He was happy to preach destruction as long as he believed the enemy would ultimately be destroyed. Jonah was a patriot primarily and a preacher secondarily.
Jonah was also angry. For the wrong reasons. Jonah loved his country, which is a good thing. However, his love for his country superseded his passion for the Word and Plan of God.
So, when God heard and saw the repentance of wicked people, He relented and forgave them. This infuriated Jonah. This was the enemy. They were objects needing to be destroyed, not souls needing redemption. God saw his anger and asked Jonah if he did well to be angry.
Jonah ignored God’s question initially and instead found a place outside the city, expecting the destruction of Nineveh. He erected a structure attempting to have some shade. God helped him by growing what the KJV describes as a gourd. Other references describe the plant as a castor oil plant, which is interesting. Among other benefits of castor oil, the most significant benefit is to act as a laxative. Perhaps God was trying to get him to relax.
Jonah was happy with the additional shade, but God killed the plant the following day. Jonah got angry about the plant dying to the point that he wanted to die also. God asked Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry at the plant?” This time, Jonah answered, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
It’s easy to scratch our heads and chuckle at the absurdity of Jonah’s predicament. Maybe someday we will find out what happened next in Jonah’s life.
The next time you get angry, think about God’s question to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry?” Then consider your response carefully.
It’s good to be a patriot. It’s good to be a minister (which we are all called to be). But I propose we should be a minister first. Then we would not be as uptight and angry when things don’t go our way, thus minimizing God’s need to provide us with some form of temporary relaxation. Selah.
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