Scripture from the ESV
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said…
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,
Jonah sits in judgment, not only of Nineveh, but of God.
To preach God’s word is not necessarily to love that word: On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name’ (Matthew 7:22)?
and he was angry.
Anger is bound to plague the man who sets himself up as a judge of others. His is the blind anger of self-righteousness. It becomes impossible to see oneself or others aright when under the influence of what is akin to madness, the deep-rooted poison of self-enclosure.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled (Heb. 12:15).
And he prayed to the Lord
All is not lost to the man who prays.
is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?
He justifies his flight
for I knew
“knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up (1st Cor. 8:1).
that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
His complaint is God.
“To what purpose is the covenant and the Law if you go around showing mercy as you are wont to do!?”
“please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Jonah’s life has been the observance of the Law and preaching of God’s word. He has depended upon the benefits and blessings of the covenant. If such blessings are bestowed even upon those without, those who have been idolaters and law breakers, men of violence, hath not God made a mockery of Jonah’s life? Hath not God made a mockery of His own Word?
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence (Psalm 11:5).
Jonah would do well to question his own love for the Law. The center of the law is to love God and to love one’s neighbor. A true lover does not flee the presence of one’s beloved (Jonah 1:3). One who loves his neighbor would not begrudge them mercy (Jonah 4:2).
And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
How is that anger working for you Jonah?
Do you not see that you are angry because you have never fulfilled the law, you come near me with your lips, but your heart is far from me (Isaiah 29:13)? At the very heart of things, your heart has remained hard. Are you not weary of yourself. Are the Law and the promises more dear to you than they are to me?
Jonah went out of the city
Christ, rejected by the Jews, was sent out of the city walls and crucified at Golgotha. His rejection led to the preaching of the word to all peoples. Jonah is not rejected, but instead rejects. He is not sent, but sends himself, separating himself from the city.
Though the cross, raised up over the city of Jerusalem, stands as if in judgement of the world, Christ judged not the world. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17). Jonah sits in judgment over and against Nineveh.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things (Romans 2:1).
The Book of Jonah proclaims the Gospel, as does every part of the Bible. The book presents the people of God, in the person of Jonah, as unwilling and incapable of doing the full work of God. Neither Jonah nor Israel presents an image of perfect faithfulness. Their history, which they themselves record and preserve, testifies against them, even while God’s faithfulness speaks for them.
The Book of Jonah demonstrates that even the most righteous, the very prophet of God, is yet an enemy of the Gospel. Thus we all stand condemned. This prepares us to understand why we collectively and individually need a savior. We must be saved even from our own righteousness. We are unwilling and, more so, incapable of doing the work of universal redemption (love) because we ourselves need to be redeemed.
We think we grasp redemption when we know who is condemned. We grasp it when, seeing we are all condemned, long for the mercy we have received to be made known at home and abroad.
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh (Romans 9:2-3).
True redemption, accomplished only by Christ, creates a desire in us to be made one with God and others. A sign of this is our longing to share the gift because the gift, love, is unity and love seeks to create unity. Love does not stand aloof, but will go down to the very bowels of the earth for the sake of the beloved.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him (Luke 15:20).
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).