The Pouting Prophet

Jonah 4:1–5 (NKJV)

4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Jonah saw what he originally fled from become a reality.  Ninevah repented, and God forgave their sin.  Jonah’s disdain for the Ninevites was tangible.  He basically pouted at God for saving a city.  He even asked God to take his life, he was so angry about the results of his prophetic work.

Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

God responded to Jonah’s anger with a simply question to begin with.  He asked Jonah if being angry was the right response.  Then Jonah simply went out and sat in the shade, waiting to see what else might happen.  This is a vivid picture of a man who hoped that his ministry would fail in that moment.  How disturbing and counterintuitive is that?

A few things come to mind here.  First, God can use anyone to do His work, even if they are not the spiritual giant they may one day be.  You must start somewhere.  Second, God will help His people grow in their walk with Him through experiences similar to Jonah’s.  He came along with God in stages.  He first ran away from the assignment, then saved a boatload of men by sacrificing himself.  Next, he acknowledged Yahweh as Lord and repented to a degree in the belly of the fish.  He completed the assigned task of decreeing judgment on Ninevah, but then pouted, because He really did not like the Ninevites, and wanted judgment to fall.  Why would Jonah still feel such animosity toward Ninevah?  Perhaps they had done something evil to Jonah or his family.  Maybe their was some form of prejudice in Jonah’s heart.  Perhaps his family and their families were feuding.  Who knows?  All that is certain is that Jonah was used of God and fulfilled his task, however reluctantly.  In spite of his bad attitude, God’s will was done.  But my advice to you is, don’t be a pouting prophet.  As witnessed in Jonah’s life, it is not a good look on you!

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