• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 41 - Have You Any Right To Be Angry?

(Jonah 4 NIV) But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. {2} He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. {3} Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live." {4} But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"

{5} Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. {6} Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. {7} But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. {8} When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."

{9} But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." {10} But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. {11} But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

A whole chapter of the Scriptures is devoted to Jonah's temper tantrum. Why on earth is such bad behaviour even recorded? Because it is a universal attitude.

As an example, at the beginning of this series on Jonah I said that sending Jonah to Nineveh was like sending Billy Graham to Baghdad. Now imagine if Billy Graham was sent to Baghdad just before the invasion - and they repented!

How would people react if just before the bombs were to drop Saddam Hussein got on his knees, renounced Islam and hatred and murder, made restitution to those he had harmed, and genuinely accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Do you think people would be pleased that a war was averted? Not at all - they would be furious! They would blame Billy Graham for ruining a good war! Jonah was preaching "the God of Israel is going to nuke the lot of you" - and they listened! This was not what Jonah wanted at all!

Jonah's attitude was based in a not-so-subtle "us and them" nationalism that went "God is on our side and the Assyrians are our enemies, God's job is to bless us and nuke them". However God is not interested in being nationalistic or patriotic. The nations, and their causes, are a drop in the bucket to Him.

(Isaiah 40:15 NKJV) Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.

God is interested in people being reconciled to Himself and entering his Kingdom - which is the only one that counts.

God is not "on the side of" any nation - even Israel. Rather it is the job of the nations and their leaders to be on the side of God.

There are only two "sides" and one war - and it is spiritual. The real war was for the hearts and minds of the people of Nineveh and Jonah won that war with his preaching.

Much of our anger is unrighteous and much of our pouting is petty.

Twice God asks Jonah "do you have a right to be angry" firstly at the sparing of Nineveh (national interest) and secondly at the demise of the shade plant (personal comfort). . But both times Jonah was wrong.

Its easy to get rattled when our cause is messed with, our reputation is tarnished or our comfort taken away. Anger based on such reasons does not carry any weight with God.

There may be times when we do have a right to be angry - but not at the mercy of God, not at grace, not over national zeal and not over a broom tree. Rather we should be glad at the sight of the grace of God. God is merciful and "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). If that is God's heart, it should be ours also.

God is nowhere near as interested in retribution as we are.

God is far more interested in Iraq coming to faith in Christ than He is in oil wells or national pride or party politics. God is far more interested in the women of Afghanistan having justice and a chance to find faith in Jesus than He is in punishing the Taliban.

The real victories are the victories of faith and the real Kingdom is the Kingdom of God and the real patriotism is being a citizen of Heaven.

The cause we should preach for and speak up for is the reconciling of all people to God. Sure, evil does need to be dealt with and from time to time a few wars must be fought. But deep down we should yearn for their repentance far ahead of any human desire for war and retribution.

We need to ask ourselves the question God asked Jonah "Do you have a right to be angry?".


John Edmiston


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