The Pitied Plant

Jonah 4:6–11 (NKJV)

And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

This plot twist is used by God to teach Jonah an important lesson.  God gave Jonah relief from the hot sun, but then took it away.  Jonah then suffered from the heat again, and was angry again and wished for death.  

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?

The Lord again asked Jonah if it was right for him to be angry, and Jonah said yes.  Then the Lord took the opportunity to use the plant as an object lesson.  Jonah “had pity” on the plant that died at the hands of the Lord, but could not have pity on Ninevah, a city full of people.  God established, for certain, that His pity on Ninevah was well-placed and His mercy was appropriate.  

No matter how we feel about a particular group of people, God loves them and wants to save them if they will repent.  God’s love transcends many humanly-imposed lines to offer salvation.  So, just because you have prejudices, grudges, or misgivings about people does not mean that God will not save them or that you should not share the love of God with them.  Reach beyond your own borders with the gospel.  Don’t pity a plant more than a person.  Obey God and avoid the belly of a fish!

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