Journey Through The Scriptures

Jonah: God’s Reluctant Prophet

Lesson 7: The Vine that Grew and Died

(Scripture to Read: Jonah 4:5 – 11; Nahum 1:1 – 3:19)

The story of Jonah concludes with this angry prophet sitting in the desert, waiting to see what would happen to the great city of Nineveh. While Jonah watched in the hope that God’s judgment would descend and destroy the city, the Lord prepared to teach His pouting prophet a lesson about compassion by means of a “visual aid.”

God caused a large vine to grow and provide shade for Jonah, which pleased him. But just as Jonah was relaxing in the shade, God sent a worm to eat the vine and it withered and died, leaving him fully exposed to the hot sun. Then God sent a scorching wind, ensuring Jonah felt the loss of the vine. So Jonah’s anger flared again.

Thus the stage was set for God’s final lesson. The vine demonstrated the truth of God’s merciful nature, for Jonah benefited from this plant that God graciously provided. Then the Lord drove home the point: if Jonah could care so much about the loss of a simple vine, why could God not care even more about a city full of human beings? Jonah was the “rabbi who did not care about other people.” But as we have seen, God has compassion on all people, not just the Jews.

Study Questions

  1. How does Jonah’s behavior resemble that of a petulant child?
  2. Why was Jonah so angry when the vine withered and died?
  3. What message was God sending Jonah through the vine and the worm?
  4. How does the end of this story show God’s love and compassion?

Something to Think About

It is easy for us to forget that God is a God of love. As humans, we often want to see judgment carried out right away—especially when we feel we are the victim! But we must yield our desires to the wisdom and justice of God, being careful to remember that we too often stand in need of His forgiveness and compassion when we are in the wrong.