Introduction: Last week we left Jonah, as we have at previous points
in the story, as an angry, unhappy man. Jonah tells God that the
loss of his shade vine and the hot weather has left him “angry enough
to die” ( Jonah 4:9). God provides a dose of logic to Jonah to calm
him down and convert his heart. Let’s dive into our story and see how
God deals with angry saints.

  1. Jonah’s Concern

    1. Read Jonah 4:10. God says that Jonah was concerned about
      the vine. Why was Jonah concerned? Was he a plant lover?
      (I doubt that Jonah had any regard for the vine itself.
      What Jonah was concerned about was himself – he had lost
      his excellent shade.)

      1. Is there any logical reason that you can think of why
        Jonah should be so angry that he wanted to die about
        the loss of his shade? (Last week we discussed
        Jonah’s view of the shade vine. He no doubt thought
        it had a supernatural origin. Thus, God was showing
        him a favor. With the death of the vine, and his
        extreme discomfort, Jonah now believed that he no
        longer enjoyed God’s favor. That seems the only
        logical explanation for Jonah’s extreme anger.)

        1. Had Jonah actually lost the favor of God? (No.
          God was trying to teach Jonah a lesson.)

    2. In verse ten God says two things about Jonah and the vine:
      Jonah did not have anything to do with growing the vine
      and it only existed for a day. Does God have his facts
      right? (Yes.)

      1. What do you think is God’s point in bringing these
        facts to Jonah’s attention? (God is showing Jonah
        what a small loss this is. Jonah had nothing invested
        in the plant and Jonah did not enjoy the shade of the
        vine two days before. How is a death wish a
        reasonable reaction to such a small “hiccup” in

        1. Have you ever found yourself unreasonably angry
          over a very small thing in life?

    3. Think back to the last time you were angry with someone
      you loved. Was it over something that could change the
      course of your life?

      1. What about the last time you were angry with God, was
        it over something that could change the course of
        your life?

    1. Do you really think that Jonah is angry about the vine?
      Or, is he angry about the entire course of events and the
      vine was the “last straw?” (Jonah has had a couple of
      previous “last straws” – for example, Jonah 1:12 and 4:3.
      However, God follows with a question that clarifies this
      issue. We turn to that question next.)

  1. God’s Concern

    1. Read Jonah 4:11. Why does God compare Nineveh to the vine?
      (This shows that God realizes that Jonah is not just angry
      about the vine, Jonah is angry about the entire course of
      events. God wants Jonah to look at the big picture –
      which is to consider the lives of the citizens of

    2. Why do you think God has to keep telling Jonah to think
      about the lives of the Ninevites? Isn’t this something
      that should be obvious? (The only thing that makes sense
      is that Jonah considered these people to be inferior.
      They were not Jews, they did not enjoy the favor of God,
      and worse they were the enemy of Israel. Jonah probably
      does not like to hear that God is concerned about them. He
      probably does not like the not-so-subtle comparison
      between the Ninevites and his own rebellion.)

    3. Notice in verse 11 the reference to hands. Whenever I tell
      someone to turn or look right, and they look left, I say
      “Your other right.” Was this a big problem in Nineveh?

      1. Was a substantial part of the population

      2. Several weeks ago we discussed the fact that the
        Assyrian army had been losing battles. Have we pin-pointed the problem: when in battle they were told to
        march left or march right and they often went the
        wrong way?

      3. What is God talking about when He says these people
        cannot tell their left hand from their right hand?
        (Our lesson (Monday)suggests this means the Ninevites
        did not have the kind of moral direction that the
        Lord gave to the Israelites. Perhaps that is what is
        meant. A number of commentaries interpret this to
        mean this is the number of children in the city who
        are under the age of accountability. They place the
        total population of Nineveh at 600,000. Thus, about
        20% are children. I like the children interpretation
        because the adults in Nineveh showed their ability to
        tell right from wrong when they repented. The Today’s
        English Version of the Bible actually translates this
        “120,000 innocent children.”)

        1. Why should God be especially concerned about the
          children? (They would be destroyed without
          having the opportunity to make a proper moral

        2. Why should Jonah be especially concerned about
          the children? (Remember our conclusion that
          Jonah did not care about the Ninevites because,
          in part, they were the enemy? This should remind
          him that not everyone in that great city was a
          danger to Israel.)

        3. What larger lesson does this teach us about the
          final judgment of God and whether or not we will
          have a fair chance? (This shows that God is very
          sensitive to the issue of whether those being
          judged clearly understood the issues that govern
          our future.)

    4. The end of verse 11 has God saying “Should I not be
      concerned about that great city?” Compare Jonah’s concern
      about his vine with God’s concern about Nineveh. (God
      created and cared for the people of Nineveh. He has a
      legitimate reason to be concerned about the people of this
      great city.)

    5. The last part of Jonah 4:11 mentions the animals of the
      city of Nineveh. Read Job 39:1-4. This is God speaking to
      Job. What point is God making to Job? (God is telling Job
      what God knows about the animals and Job does not.)

      1. Why does God think it is a sign of greatness that He
        knows these things about the animals? (This shows
        that God puts a premium on all of creation –
        including the animals. God cares about the animals
        so much that he knows these intimate details about

    6. Read Matthew 8:30-32. How do you explain this in the
      context of God’s concern for animals?

    7. Read 1 Samuel 15:2-3. How do you explain these
      instructions from God? (The book of Jonah gives us a
      closer, more intimate look at the thinking of God. The
      Jonah story convinces me that whatever God’s knew when He
      commanded 1 Samuel 15, that it must have been just.)

  2. Jonah’s Future

    1. Look again at Jonah 4:11. The book of Jonah ends with a
      question. What is your answer to God’s question?

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

    2. Since the book ends with a question, we do not know how
      Jonah ultimately responded. Do you think Jonah ended up
      agreeing with God?

      1. Why do you think that God did not tell us Jonah’s
        final decision? (The reason why we are not told how
        this turns out for Jonah is that this information is
        not important (except to Jonah). When you watch a
        magician, the point is to watch the important moves!
        What Jonah is doing is not the important move to
        watch in this book. Instead, the important move is
        how God deals with an unhappy, selfish, angry and
        twisted prophet like Jonah. God constantly approaches
        Jonah with love and logic. He does not let Jonah go
        and He does not let the citizens of Nineveh go. Just
        as God pursued, engaged and tried to save Jonah and
        the Ninevites, so God pursues, engages and tries to
        save us.)

    3. Friend, God is pursuing you. Will you repent and give your
      heart to him?

  3. Next week: The Sign of the Prophet Jonah.