Journey Through The Scriptures

Jonah: God’s Reluctant Prophet

Lesson 6: Jonah’s Anger at God

(Scripture to Read: Jonah 4:1 – 4)

The final chapter of Jonah is laced with anger. Here was a prophet of God, furious because his message was believed and heeded! Jonah knew God was so loving and forgiving that he would look like a fool preaching “fire and brimstone” to the people of Ninevah. Perhaps Jonah knew that his contemporaries, Hosea and Amos, were prophesying Assyria’s future destruction of Israel. If so, he may have wished for Nineveh’s destruction to forestall Israel’s own future judgment. At the very least, Jonah probably saw God’s forgiveness of the Ninevites as a betrayal of His people, Israel.

Jonah 4 is also filled with irony. Jonah received God’s mercy, but he did not want the Ninevites to receive mercy. God turned away from anger and embraced mercy, while Jonah embraced his anger and turned away from mercy. The problem was Jonah forgot that the true purpose of fire and brimstone is not to bring judgment and destruction, but repentance. The prophet became so twisted in his thinking that he asked God to put him to death, even though God had just given Jonah his life back! God’s question in verse 4 is rhetorical—Jonah had no right to be angry.


Study Questions

  1. Jonah’s attitude toward God varied widely from chapter to chapter in this story. Can you describe the way his feelings fluctuated from chapters 1 to 4?
  2. According to Jonah, what was the main reason he fled to Tarshish?
  3. Why did Jonah want to die?
  4. Why did God ask Jonah, “Have you any right to be angry?” (v. 4)?

Something to Think About

Before we condemn Jonah for his attitude, we may need to look at ourselves. Many times we want special treatment from others and from God, while at the same time we are reluctant to extend that same favor to others. But since God desires to bless all of His children, we should be as happy for other people’s blessings as we are for our own.