Wenstrom Bible Ministries Marion, Iowa Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom www.wenstrom.org. Thursday December 2, 2010 Jonah: Jonah 4:4-The Lord Responds To Jonah’s Anger With A Rhetorical Question That Rebukes The Prophet’s Attitude Lesson # 52. Please turn in your Bibles to Jonah 4:1.
Thursday December 2, 2010Jonah: Jonah 4:4-The Lord Responds To Jonah’s Anger With A Rhetorical Question That Rebukes The Prophet’s AttitudeLesson # 52
By way of review, Jonah 4:1 records that Jonah thought it was an unjust decision by God, in fact, a great injustice, which made him furious that the Lord did not destroy Nineveh because the Ninevites believed in Him and repented from their evil way of living.
Jonah 4:2 reveals for the first time Jonah’s motivation for disobeying the Lord’s command to go to Nineveh and announce judgment against its inhabitants.
Jonah 4:2, “He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.’” (NASU)
The first scene appeared in 1:1-3, the second in 1:4-16, the third in 1:17-2:10, the fourth in Jonah 3:1-3a, the fifth in 3:3b-10, the sixth in 4:1-4 and the seventh and final scene in 4:5-11.
In Jonah 4:2-3, the prophet expresses his anger and frustration with the Lord’s decision to spare the Ninevites because they exercised faith in Him and repented from their evil way of living.
In Jonah 4:4, the Lord responds by posing to him a rhetorical question, which implies that He was justified to render such a decision since it was consistent with His character and nature, which Jonah himself acknowledges in verse 2!
“Do you have good reason to be angry?” is composed of the interrogative particle hǎ(הֲ־) (ha), “do,” which is prefixed to the hiphil active infinitive absolute form of the verb yā∙ṭǎḇ (יָטַב) (ya-tobe), “good reason” and the third person masculine singular qal active perfect form of the verb ḥā∙rā(h) (חָרָה) (khaw-raw), “to be angry” and the preposition le (לְ) (lamed), “you” and the second person masculine singular form of the pronomial suffix ʾǎt∙tā(h) (אַתָּה) (aw-thaw), “you.”
The interrogative particle hǎ, “do” is prefixed to the hiphil active infinitive absolute form of the verb yā∙ṭǎḇ, “good reason” to form a rhetorical question that demands a negative answer.
The verb yā∙ṭǎḇ means “to be justified” since the Lord is questioning as to whether or not Jonah’s attitude is right with regards to His decision to exercise His grace policy towards the Ninevites and spare their lives.
The verb ḥā∙rā(h) means “to be infuriated” and is used of Jonah’s great anger or rage with respect to God’s decision to spare the lives of the Ninevites.
The rhetorical question that the Lord poses to Jonah implies that the Lord was right to extend grace to the Ninevites when they turned to Him in faith and consequently repented from their evil way of living since this decision was consistent with His character and nature and grace policy towards the entire human race.
Thus, the question in a gentle manner, rebukes the prophet’s bad attitude towards the Lord’s decision to spare the lives of the Ninevites when they believed in Him and repented from their evil way of living.
He doesn’t condemn Jonah but through this question is actually inviting Jonah to condemn himself and admit he is wrong about his negative attitude towards His decision to spare the Ninevites.
Notice that the Lord does not even reply to Jonah’s request to die since this was utterly ridiculous and was simply the prophet expressing his frustration with the Lord’s decision to extend grace and forgiveness to the Ninevites.
Jonah is inconsistent with regards to his understanding of the character and nature of God with respect to the entire human race and specifically the Ninevites.
The fact that Jonah never replies as well his conduct later on in the scene indicates that the prophet is still infuriated and thus implacable.
His love is also “impersonal” meaning that God can love from His own divine nature sinners who are obnoxious and unattractive to Him, which Jonah is at this point in the narrative.
God’s love with respect to Jonah up to this point in the narrative is “unconditional” meaning that no matter what sin Jonah commits or how unfaithful he is or how rebellious, God never ever disowns him (Rm. 8:35, 39).
God’s love is “compassionate” meaning that God intensely desires and will act to alleviate the pain and suffering of another or remove its cause (1 John 3:16-17).
He is attempting to alleviate Jonah’s own self induced misery that is the result of his unjustifiable attitude towards His decision to spare the Ninevites.
God’s love is “’magnanimous” towards Jonah meaning that the Lord is being generous in forgiving Jonah insulting Him by being angry with respect to His decision to spare the Ninevites.
The Lord is patient with Jonah in the sense that He will endure Jonah’s attempt to provoke Him and annoy Him without complaint and will not exercise His righteous indignation towards the prophet.