Introduction: Remember how we ended last week’s lesson? Jonah puts up
his beach umbrella, breaks out his lawn-chair recliner, fixes himself
a cold drink, and stretches out for what remains of the 40 days to
see the fireworks start over Nineveh. Jonah turns from aquanaut, to
prophet to spectator. Let’s jump back into our story and see what God
teaches us next!

  1. The Vine

    1. Read Jonah 4:5-6. Verse 5 tells us that Jonah’s “shelter”
      (his beach umbrella) gave him shade. Why does Jonah need
      more shade from the vine? Any “shade experts” know the
      answer? (Have you ever sat in the shade of a building
      versus the shade of a tree? The tree is much cooler
      because it exudes moisture through its leaves. The vine
      would be much cooler than whatever shelter Jonah put

      1. We decided last week that Jonah was waiting for God
        to send fire down on the citizens of Nineveh. Why
        would God want to make Jonah more comfortable while
        he is in a state of rebellion? If Jonah is going to
        sit there angry and hoping to see the Ninevites burn,
        why not let him bake a little?

      2. We say “our bread and water” will be sure with God
        ( Isaiah 33:16). What is God’s attitude about our

      3. Jonah built his shelter (beach umbrella) while God
        “built” the vine. What lesson do you see in this?
        (God is still pursuing Jonah. Jonah stomps off into
        the desert, builds some shade and waits hoping that
        God will change His mind and turn the Ninevites into
        crispy critters. This is entirely, “I’ll do my own
        stuff, build my own comforts and wait for God to come
        around to my own solution.” The first thing God does
        is show Jonah that God’s solution to the comfort
        problem is superior.)

    2. Look at the last part of verse 6. What is Jonah’s attitude
      about God providing the vine? (He was very happy.)

      1. Does Jonah know God provided the vine?

      2. What part of Jonah’s happiness with the vine stems
        from knowing that God provided it, as opposed to the
        practical, comfort aspect of the vine? (Jonah is
        angry with God. His anger causes him to “do his own
        thing.” Now he sees that God seems to be aiding him
        in his “own thing” and I think this is part of the
        reason Jonah is very happy. He thinks God is coming
        around to being reasonable about burning up the “bad

  2. The Worm and the Wind

    1. Read Jonah 4:7. Who provided the worm? (God.)

    2. Read Jonah 1:17 and 4:7 together. What parallels do you
      see between the great fish and the little worm? (God
      provided both. God used both to get the attention of
      Jonah. The great fish was used to save Jonah from
      drowning. The little worm was used to make Jonah
      uncomfortable. This discomfort was meant to save Jonah’s
      spiritual life.)

      1. Do you ever think that God is not interested in the
        small things in your life? If this is a concern, how
        do you explain that God was involved in this worm and
        the vine?

    3. Read Jonah 4:8. Remember that Jonah built his own shelter
      (4:5)? How does Jonah’s shelter protect him against the
      scorching wind and sun that “God provided?”

      1. Why does God send a scorching wind and blazing sun?

      2. Do you believe that Jonah understood that both the
        appearance of the vine and its destruction were
        supernatural events?

      3. Put yourself in Jonah’s place. Is it obvious to you
        that God is not tending to His proper business? God
        is supposed to be raining fire down on Nineveh at
        this very minute. Instead, God is fooling around
        killing your shade vine and turning up the heat. How
        do you reconcile God’s actions? Why does God seem to
        be a prankster instead of the judge of the wicked?

    4. Compare Jonah 1:12, Jonah 4:3 and Jonah 4:8. In all three
      situations Jonah’s plan and God’s plan are quite
      different. When Jonah sees that God’s plan is going
      forward he is angry (or resigned) enough that he just says
      “Let me die.” Think back to the times you have been
      depressed. Was part of the problem that your plan for your
      life was contrary to God’s plan for your life?

      1. Do you see Jonah as angry or depressed in these

      2. What is God’s reaction to this kind of talk? (God
        continues to pursue Jonah.)

  3. The Issue

    1. Read Jonah 4:9. What does this reveal about Jonah’s state
      of mind? (Jonah says he is angry. I have no training in
      mental illness, but it seems odd to me that someone would
      be angry enough to die.)

      1. What do you think about Jonah’s answer?

      2. What do you think is the correct answer to God’s
        question in verse 9?

    2. Let’s look more closely at Jonah’s attitude with regard to
      the loss of the vine and God’s question. How would Jonah
      fit in as a member of a modern environmental group? Is it
      your perception that some modern environmentalists care
      more about plants and animals than they do for people?

      1. Why does Jonah think he should be sheltered by the
        vine while the Ninevites are burned up? (I don’t
        think Jonah is intentionally preferring the vine over
        people. I think he is simply being selfish and is
        upset that his personal comfort level has taken a
        plunge. However, God’s question points to the core
        issue: How can you be upset about the death of a vine
        and not upset about the death of an entire city of
        people? This is a question that every pro-environment, pro-choice (on abortion) person needs to
        be able to answer in response to God’s question.)

    3. When we face a situation where our “vine” has died, should
      we remember that we do not have our vine, but we still
      have our God?

    4. Read Matthew 26:38. Jonah and Jesus say very similar
      words. Contrast the attitude of Jesus and the attitude of
      Jonah which produced these words? (Jonah has the attitude
      of the Devil. He is selfish and upset that people are not
      being destroyed. Jesus is in the process of giving His
      life away so that we all can be saved. The contrast is

    5. Read Jonah 4:10-11. Most of next week’s lesson
      concentrates on these two verses. For that reason, I do
      not want to get into great detail here. Compare for me
      Jonah’s role in the life and care of the vine and God’s
      role in the life and care of the Ninevites? (Jonah had
      nothing to do with the life and care of the vine. Yet when
      it was gone he was so angry he could die. God created and
      sustained the Ninevites. God tells us He has a vested
      interest in our life and salvation.)

      1. Why does God mention “cattle” in verse 11? (I
        consider this to be significant. God tells us he
        cares about the animals. God is also making a logical
        point with Jonah. God says, “You are upset about the
        loss of a plant, why not be concerned about the
        higher ascending life forms of animals and people?
        Jonah’s values are completely upside down.)

    6. Friend, how would you like a God with Jonah’s attitude?
      Praise God that He explicitly reveals to us that He cares
      about our life and our salvation!

  4. Next Week: The Last Word.