Meanderings of a Minister


What Right Do You Have to Be Angry?
June 16, 2016, 12:13 pm
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Ever Been This Angry?

In the book of Jonah, we read about how God used a prophet who did just about everything wrong.  He used Jonah in spite of his disobedience, disdain for others, and his distraction from God’s purposes.  I know that you already know the story, but here is a quick review.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria, to tell them that they needed to repent of their evil ways or God was going to destroy them.  Nineveh was known for its harassment of Israel as well as its cruelty in battle and in victory.  Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh.  It is later in chapter 4 that we find this was due to the fact that Jonah knew God would forgive them if they repented and Jonah did not deem them worthy of God’s forgiveness.  Jonah went down to the sea and booked passage on a ship heading for Tarshish.  Most scholars believe Tarshish was in Spain which is the opposite direction from Nineveh and a long distance.

The ship had not been underway very long before God sent a storm to afflict the comfortable prophet.  It must have been a doozey because the weathered sailors became panicky.  They tried praying, sacrificing, throwing their precious cargo (for which they would have to pay) over the side, rowing back to land, and weathering the storm the way they had so many other times, but to no avail.

Finally, they ask Jonah and he tells them it is his fault and tells them to throw him over the side.  They try everything else first, pray and ask God for forgiveness, and then they throw him over.  God appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah whole and keeps him alive for three days in the belly of the fish.  Jonah prays and asks God to deliver him.  God delivers Jonah on dry ground and calls him again to go to Nineveh.  He goes, but does not do exactly as God had said.  He tells them nothing about the option of repentance and just that God was going to destroy them in 40 days.  The people repent.  The king repents.  And Jonah gets mad.

This is the point where God asks Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”  Perhaps by looking at this question for Jonah, we can also ask ourselves the same question.  Jonah had sinned against God by not going to Nineveh in the first place.  Romans 6:23a says the wages of sin is death.  God could have killed Jonah on the spot.  (See Acts 5:1-16 and how God did just that with Ananias and Sapphira.)  God was merciful.  God had rescued Jonah from the storm, from drowning, and from the belly of the fish.  God was compassionate.  Jonah had disobeyed God, but God gave him another chance to obey.  God was slow to anger.  God had sent Jonah to preach to a people who did not worship or know Him.  God was abundant in lovingkindness.  Keep in mind also that Israel was sinning greatly against the Lord at this time.

With all that God had done for Jonah, Jonah got angry because God forgave the Ninevites with the same mercy He had shown Jonah.  Jonah did not think they were worthy of forgiveness and he got mad at God.  He was mad at the Ninevites and he was mad at God.

God simply asked Jonah if he really had a good reason for being mad at anyone or anything.  Jonah answered that he had a very good reason to be angry.  He really didn’t.  And neither do you or I.  When you consider all the ways God has provided for, protected, and propitiated you and your sins, how could we possibly be mad at God or anyone else with whom He is working?  The modern health and welfare movement seems to teach people that God owes them something.  If they have enough faith, God owes them all of their wants and desires, including health, wealth, friends, comfort, and ease.  When God doesn’t meet their demands, they feel like they can be mad at God.  They often forget that we all deserve death (Romans 3:23, 6:23a), but we have been given the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23b).  God has already given us more than we could hope for, so who in their right mind could get angry with a God Who has done so much more than we could ever hope for?  Jonah wasn’t thinking right and neither are we if we do not fall on our faces before Him and tell him, “Thank you!” from grateful and sincere hearts.

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