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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

God’s gracious instruction of Jonah (Jonah 4)

This chapter recounts how the Lord responded to Jonah’s state of soul, and we can picture Jonah as he records each detail. He writes as one who has tasted the pardon of God and he therefore records for our benefit how the Lord restored him.

First, God listened to the sinful response of his servant. Remarkably, the prayer of angry Jonah is heard by God. Sometimes the best response to a confused person is merely to listen. This is what Job’s friends did initially before they spoilt it by starting to assess the situation. It is wonderful to know that, in times of confusion, we have a listening God.

Second, when Jonah walked off in his rage to the outskirts of the city, the Lord followed him. Perhaps we would have let Jonah go and mope by himself, but God did not do so. Instead he followed on behind him and providentially arranged for his comfort. The Lord showed his goodness to a froward servant.

Third, the Lord gave Jonah an object lesson from the gourd that he had provided for Jonah’s comfort. God removed the gourd, which was Jonah’s protection against the hot sun. In the story Jonah feels sorry for the plant. From this incident, the Lord indicated the appropriateness of his concern for the people of Nineveh.

Fourth, the Lord asked Jonah several questions, designed to cause him to reflect on his own angry attitude and on the Lord’s forgiveness of Nineveh. The Lord did not accuse him, even although he was guilty. Instead he worked on Jonah’s mind in order for Jonah to realise his own folly.

In many ways, the Lord’s response to Jonah anticipates some of the ways that Jesus interacted with his disciples. He comforted disobedient disciples, gave them simple lessons, and asked helpful questions. Each of the Lord’s responses to Jonah reveal patience and concern.

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