Jonah’s Anger

Open Your Bible

Jonah 4:1-11, Matthew 9:36, Matthew 10:29, Acts 11:15-18, Romans 5:6-11, Psalm 103:8

Text: Jonah 4:1-11, Matthew 9:36, Matthew 10:29, Acts 11:15-18, Romans 5:6-11, Psalm 103:8

This is part of a 7-day series on Jonah in the Lent 2016 reading plan. 

At the end of chapter four, we find Jonah throwing a childlike tantrum in response to God’s extravagant mercy on a city full of eye-gouging sinners—the same extravagant mercy Jonah himself received inside the gut of a fish (Jonah 2:10).

The Bible tells us in Romans 1:16 (and many other places) that Jesus Christ came to save the Jew and the Gentile—everyone—and that there is no distinction. But do you ever find yourself, like Jonah, subscribing to a gospel of entitlement? Or maybe God’s tender mercy toward anyone He chooses sits quite comfortably with you, but the call to love others in that same undiscriminating way is harder to swallow (see James 2:1-12).

Whether regarding God’s love or your own, are you ever tempted toward a members-only mentality?

We are not entitled to God’s love. Not because of our nationality or upbringing, not because of our bank accounts or marital status, not even because of our charitable giving or our care for widows and orphans.

Scripture says that what we are entitled to is death.

Whoa. It sounds harsh, but it’s true (Romans 6:23). And here’s why it is important to say this harsh truth out loud: we cannot know the depth of God’s grace if we do not know the depth of our need.

I love how Matthew 9:36 describes God’s heart toward us, His needy children:

“When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a Shepherd.”

Do you hear the tenderness in those words? Jesus saw those crowds of people, and He sees us, as we really, truly are: weary and worn out. Utterly lost and hopeless in sin and despair, and desperately in need of a loving Shepherd. And in His great mercy, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And for Jonah. And for the people of Nineveh. And for all of the unlovables.

Christ loves the unlovables. And we are all the unlovables.

The compassion the Lord shows the Ninevites stands in stark contrast to Jonah’s contempt for them. Yes, he had obeyed and gone to Nineveh like God commanded. But when the Lord’s purposes were fulfilled there, Jonah was enraged. The condition of his proud heart prevented him from seeing that, while the Lord had been pursuing Nineveh, the Lord had also been pursuing him. The Ninevites’ wickedness was a mirror, showing Jonah the ugliness of his own sin.

Understanding the depth of our sin not only shows us the depths of God’s mercy, it enables us to pour out God’s love and compassion on those around us. For all have sinned and fallen short—including me, including you, including the prophet chosen by God to deliver the message of salvation to the entire city of Nineveh. All of us.

If we walk away from our reading of the book of Jonah with one thing, know this:

God’s mercy is far-reaching. It is deep and wide and for you.

Thanks be to God!

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
-Romans 5:6-8

(71) Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

71 thoughts on "Jonah’s Anger"

  1. Fran says:

    Yes, I do get am attitude of entitle

    1. Fran says:

      Yes, I do have an attitude of entitlement, especially when I see wrongdoing taking place. I ask God to “get them back” and “show no mercy”. Thankfully, He doesn’t listen to me. This study has shown me I have done plenty of wrongdoing of my own, yet, God has shown me grace.

  2. jessiechatchat says:

    I love that question that God asks of Jonah: “Do you do well to be angry?” It’s one I should ask myself, as I’ve been angry more often than I should be. Kids being defiant–do I do well to be angry? Someone late–do I do well to be angry? I messed up–do I do well to be angry (with myself)? Husband not meeting an expectation–do I do well to be angry? If my anger is not serving a purpose, if it is not righteous but instead selfish, TIME TO LET IT GO and not spend another second justifying it.

    1. Shirlie says:

      Basically my day!! I need to ask myself this question too! Praying we’ll both let it go!

      1. jessiechatchat says:

        Praying for us, too!

  3. Thankful for God’s endless mercy.

  4. churchmouse says:

    Oh Jonah! You obey and you go but you’re not happy about any of it. You’re angry over the salvation of others. And you want to just die because it’s so unjust to save those sinful lost Ninevites. You pout and don’t notice that God blessed you with a shade tree. And you want to just die because you nearly fainted from that scorching east wind. Yes, die over the weather. Oh Jonah, you fuss over a plant while God fusses over souls! You complain and God has compassion. The salvation of the Ninevites, the arrival and demise of the plant, and even the scorching wind are all appointed by God. All is under God’s control. He knows you are weary and worn out and He loves you more than.
    Churchmouse, you obey and you go and you are not always happy about it. You get upset over the unfairness of life, the blessings others receive, the more noticeable gifts they have. And sometimes you just want to give up and run away and eat worms. You pout and you don’t notice the oh so many blessings He showers on you every. single. day. And it snows and there’s ice and even though this has been a mild winter, you complain and you wish the days away till spring. The very days He has given you, chosen for you, appointed for you. God is in control. Really He is. Always He is. Oh, Churchmouse, He knows you are weary and worn and He loves you more than.

    Jonah. Churchmouse. While you were yet sinners. God’s great love.

    (thank you, Jesus, and SRT, for this lesson today. I’m in a puddle of gratitude right here. )

    1. Sara Beth says:

      powerful, thank you for this!

    2. Ikelau says:

      Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this.

    3. Laura says:

      Awesome. Thank you!

    4. Katie says:

      Thank you for this I plugged my name right in there too. right in

    5. Kendra says:

      Whoa! On point straight to the hear! Thank s for your words today!f

    6. Denise Morgan says:

      Yes, an exceedingly well-written, heart hitting, sin exposing narrative.
      Well said, churchmouse, well said.

    7. Maureen says:


    8. Kapungwe Chabu says:

      Couldn’t have said it better

    9. Joyjoy says:

      Adding my whoa and amen. Thank you Churchmouse for this prayer that hit home so hard.

    10. Valerie says:

      Thank you Churchmouse.

    11. JennyBC says:

      Teary eyed. How guilty I am of a Jonah mentality. A prayer of truth. Thank you.

    12. Tiari says:

      “You complain and God has compassion.” Amen!! Heart conviction in those short, simple words. Lord, forgive my complaints and give me your compassion this morning, that it may overflow into others around me today. Thank you!

    13. Cheryl says:


    14. andreahope says:

      Amen! So,true and so sad that we can’t see more easily the blessings God has for us daily! Right there with you all and begging for forgiveness.

  5. Keiana P. says:

    Love this. Thank you!

  6. linnea bahr says:


  7. Beverly says:

    Jonah was angry. Deeply angry. His anger must have rooted and grown from somewhere, clearly a part of his story outside of these four chapters.
    Anger. I have passionate thoughts on anger. (I hope you don’t mind me sharing.) Because I don’t think anger is an emotion we can just brush under the rug. I believe it is an emotion that needs to be faced. Looking around our world today there is so much anger. And horrible actions resulting from anger, not just hate crimes or civil wars or random shootings… People are angry, and it breaks my heart.
    Anger is rooted in hurt. I heard this once and it’s stuck with me, as I personally can attest to it’s truth. When I look my anger in the face, it looks like deep wounds and shame and unforgiveness. These are the roots I have to bring before God if I want healing. Because if I don’t, bitterness takes root and all sorts of ugliness ensues. But bringing these painful pieces of my self before God postures my heart to receive His mercy and peace. It may not be instantaneous healing, but He walks with me through the heartache and hurts and soothes my tangled, angry heart. Awareness of my own heart allows me to bring my WHOLE heart to Him. And that is what He desires most. Because there is such freedom when I lay down my boxing gloves and seek His face. His love is overwhelming.
    Whenever I read Jonah, I wonder how His story ended. Did he finally bring his own anger before God to be released from its grasp? Or did he wallow in it living a miserable, bitter life until his end? I can only hope that he brought it before the Lord and received His peace. Because it’s Jonah’s sheer honesty before God that gets me. He didn’t stuff it or hide it or avoid it, he shared it with our merciful God. And that, I believe, is the first step to healing.
    Our God is so good and merciful. Only He can make our angry hearts clean, but like sin, we need to shine His light in there and work with Him to heal.
    Anger is a heavy, but necessary topic, especially in light of our world today. Praying we all have the courage to face our own anger and hurt – whatever the size – with His help. He can set our hearts free and grant us His peace that passes all understanding. Because our world could use so much more of God’s love and light. Let’s be and share His glorious light and great love today, sisters!

    1. Beverly says:

      Re-reading my post, I’m surprised by my own voice. Praying it is empowering and encouraging to someone. :) Love and hugs to you all!

      1. Laura says:

        Beverly, I desperately wish I could convey to you how specifically your comments answered a very real and specific prayer I prayed not 5 minutes before I found this. So thank you for sharing your heart. The Lord used it to convict and guide my heart today.

      2. j- says:

        Thank you..encouraging, convicting, much to think and pray about.

      3. melody says:

        Thank you! Needed to hear this!

        1. Jill says:

          “Because there is such freedom when I lay down my boxing gloves and seek His face.” I cannot even put in to words the truth that this has just spoken in my heart. Tears flowing freely. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Alicia E. says:

      Your words speak so directly to me about something that I believe God has just recently put on my heart. And I’m so grateful I take time to read through some comments when I do my devotional, because somehow the devotional itself didn’t bring this particular issue to my mind! If you happen to read this, please say a prayer for my angry heart. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

      1. Beverly says:

        Praying for you, Alicia. That God would soften your heart to His love and mercy. We are never beyond the great reach of His abundant love (Romans 8:38-39). I’m so grateful for this truth.

    3. She Reads Truth says:

      Beverly, I’m so grateful for you! Thanks for sharing encouragement today!


  8. Ashley says:

    Christ died for the ungodly. Love that!!

  9. Janelle says:

    We cannot know the depth of God’s grace if we do not know the depth of our need.


    1. Alli says:


    2. Jojohamm says:

      I loved this as well.

  10. Midge says:

    Thank you all for being so real and transparent. I too have struggled with forgiveness and my attitude. God is so gracious….so thankful! I have been praying that God will handle a situation after confrontation didn’t work. Really want revival to happen, but it will not until Christians start turning from sin. We all sin every day, but the grace of Jesus is not a card to live however we want. With much grace, comes much responsibility. This is where I am today. Praying for God to work in a might way…especially with the upcoming election in America.

  11. Jenny says:

    We as a nation have come into this type of
    entitlement thinking, where we deserve this or I’m entitled to that. Where in reality, we are people just like any other nation is made up of people just like us. I can’t help but compare what Trump recently said to Jonah’s attitude( I would never compare Trump to Jonah-merely his attitude). He has hatred and anger towards the Mexican people. Living in Texas my best friends are Mexican American and yes I have known many illegal immigrants. Not one that I know of is a rapist or thief, instead they are some of the most honest, gracious and hardest working people I know! I hope I didn’t sound to political! We can just really compare what we read today with today God loves all of us and wants all of his people to be saved, and what is hard for me at least to grasp is that he has mercy and compassion for ALL of us!! Even our present day Ninivah. And even for me! :)

  12. Lesley says:

    SRT Sisters, we- like Jonah and the people of Nineveh- need grace upon grace. Maybe you could also use a little laugh this Friday morning (at my expense). Come join my Driveway Confessions at:

  13. Diane Huntsman says:

    I hate that I relate to Jonah here, but I’m thankful for the light shed on dark places.. It has helped though some to have been stripped of a title that made me think more highly of myself than I ought to have.. It helped to have a rebellious teenager.. It helped when I experienced rejection.. All the humbling surprise circumstances that hit my life were a way to allow me to see I wasn’t on a different level of holiness than those I felt were beneath me.. I now have more compassion and see others differently than I once did with my leadership title.. God is good to not allow us to stay in those place of exalting ourselves above others.. He’s good to humble us and get our heads right about seeing with His vision all people.. I’m still a work in progress, but I know He will not relent working in me to have the right heart towards others. Thx is be to God for His continual moving and working in us! Oh how He loves us so much and desires that we have His heart!

  14. Carolyn says:

    “We cannot know the depth of Gods grace if we do not know the depth of our need.” In a Revelation study last week, I was asked to read scriptures describing the natural traits of humanity (such as Romans 1:18-23 and Romans 3:10-20) and then to think about how I had seen these traits in my life. It was not a pretty picture that I saw. I want and need to keep that image fresh to give me an inkling of the great darkness from which He has saved me. Looking inward with God’s eyes before I look outward should help me to show more of His compassion. I was reminded of a quote by Timothy Keller: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Thank you, SRT, for introducing me to that quote in an earlier study. I have been reminded of it many times since; I need to remember what I have been saved from and how very loved I am.

  15. Diane Huntsman says:

    Christ loves the unlovables. And we are all the unlovables.

  16. Caroline says:

    Thank you Lord for loving the unlovable

  17. TraceyC says:

    Oh my goodness. Thank you, SRT, for this week’s deep dive on Jonah. It has really helped reveal some dark Jonah-like places in my own heart. I thank God for using his word and your devotional to crack open the door and help me see the attitudes I need to change.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Thanks for joining us, Tracey! We love having you in our community!


  18. Anne says:

    Is there perhaps a parallel between the truths presented here and the current story of Kanye West and Kirk Franklin? (See article here Perhaps a modern-day application of the Jonah/Nineveh narrative?

    1. Susan says:


  19. Terri says:

    Wow, never new I had so much in common with Jonah. Jonah 4:1-10, has so hit me where I live. What a great scripture for this Lenten season of repentance. SRT thank you for taking me deeper.

  20. Susan says:

    I may not have seen the blackness of my heart in the same light as Nineveh’s heart was before Christ shown mercy on me, compassion for me, but it was black just the same. I was twenty nine (ah, now that is slow to become angry and rich in faithful love) when God relented from sending disaster (Jonah 4:2) on me. I was weary and broken and worn and He shown his unending compassion (Matthew 9:36) by saving me from death into life. For while I was still helpless (in my sin, in my shame, in my sorrow, in my pain, in my brokenness) Christ died for this ungodly (Romans 5:6) Gentile. So, because of all this, and until I have labored over…the homeless on the streets, the slums in my city, the fatherless on the playgrounds, the widows and the hungry, I will never know or understand the full grace of God who relents from sending disaster (Jonah 4:2) and at the same time is in relentless pursuit of the ungodly.

    1. Brandi says:

      Yes ma’am. So thankful and amazed that He loves us!

  21. Jennifer says:

    “The Gospel of Entitlement” – I totally buy into to this sometimes…not that I think I deserve God’s grace and someone else doesn’t, but that I may NOT deserve His grace because I’m not entitled to it like someone else may be. That I haven’t done enough, haven’t believed in Him enough. That other people are better Christians than I am, so they must be entitled to more of Him than me. But the gospel of entitlement is NOT the Gospel of Jesus! Not based on merit or status, but based on His Steadfast Love!

  22. Kristen says:

    Thank you for writing truth that prompts me to wake up early and read. Even on a Friday morning! I have a desire for scripture that is greater than ever.

  23. Ivey says:

    “We cannot know the depth of Gods grace if we do not know the depth of our need.” Search my heart God and show me my sinful ways – into the deep crevices of my heart. Tone down and take away my proudness and my sense of self-righteousness. Reveal to me my unlovable self so that I may know your Grace. Show me how unlovable I am and Your endless merciful love for me – so that I may see others like You and love them well !!!

    1. eah8i says:


  24. Heather Clement says:

    Jonah was so angry when God determined to show mercy to Ninevah. Angry enough to die:

    “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and arelenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’” (Jonah 4:1-3)
    It’s easy for me to sit back and shake my heads at Jonah’s stubbornness… to criticize him for his lack of compassion and utter selfishness. But just as the “tsk, tsk” is forming on tongue, I remember that I’m not so unlike Jonah. There was a time when a “sister” behaved in a manner completely inconsistent with who God calls us to be, and she hurt me deeply – I still bear the scars. I’m going to be real here and tell you that I’m ashamed to say for a long time, the last thing I wanted was for God to show compassion for her. On the contrary, my selfish heart wanted to see her get what I thought she had coming to her… retribution for her actions, punishment for her sin. I didn’t pray for her repentance, I prayed for her demise. I was just like Jonah.

    Over time, and by the grace of Jesus, I have come to a place of forgiveness. Although I still have flashes of anger, I remind myself at those times that I am no better. How can I expect God to forgive me, but wish for him to pour out His wrath on someone else? In those times, I rehearse these words..
    Colossians 3:13
    Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
    1 Peter 3:8
    Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
    Proverbs 19:11
    A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
    Matthew 6:14
    For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

    1 Corinthians 13:4
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    Is it easy? Absolutely not. But it’s NECESSARY. And Godly. And that’s what I want to be.

    How about you? Is there someone God is calling you to forgive? I’m praying for us all, to have compassion and learn how to truly forgive. To love as Jesus would have us love.

    1. Verna says:

      Thank you, Heather, for your encouraging words. I am in exact same place as you and want to use the Scriptures you listed. Thankful for Jesus power to forgive. We can’t do it on our own! Blessings to you!

    2. Verna says:

      Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

    3. Heather (MNmomma) says:


    4. CJ says:

      I could have written this, verbatim. I am taking down the scripture you have shown and am going to pray over it consistently. Soften my heart, Father God. Thank you for using Heather as a messenger of your words. Praise be to God!

    5. valerie says:

      needed to hear this!
      thank you heather!

    6. Kam says:

      Wow, to hear Tina”s words of how we are all the same, amazingly loved by God with no favorites and then Heathers words of how we need to forgive all , what important thoughts on how God wants us to live. Thank you ladies. God, please help me to forgive.

    7. This is exactly what struck me today as well. I’ve been wounded deeply by someone and, while the relationship has seen some mending, there’s never been any apologies or recognition of the hurtful words spewed at me. I’ve had to come to a place of forgiveness by recognizing that hurt people HURT people and that my forgiveness doesn’t depend on an apology. My pastor told me shortly once that this was an opportunity to extend grace and that always pops into my head whenever the bitter seeds threaten to take root again in my soul. Forgiveness I’ve found is a continuous process and, just like love, it’s a daily choice. Reading about Jonah’s little temper tantrum here is like looking in a mirror some days and I’m ashamed to admit there are still moment I want justice and I want her to suffer for the hurt she’s dealt me. But then I remember I am no better. NO BETTER. And that is so humbling. so convicting. So freeing. I don’t have to fight my own sin when I surrender it to Him and I can forgive and even love, extending the same grace He once gave me. I needed this reminder today and I’m grateful for your honesty here, Heather.

  25. Tricia says:

    Tina, preach it sister! So grateful for God’s unrelenting love. Have a blessed day.

    1. Joan says:

      Love your “preaching”. You speak my heart dear sister….Peace and grace to you today

  26. Tina says:

    Christ loves the unlovables. And we are all the unlovables…equal in the ‘fall- short’ category …

    I remember a time when I met royalty out of the usual setting of glamour, pomp and ceremony. ..A regular guy, out with his children, my initial reaction was, do I curtsy. .The rebel inside me asked..’why..’
    So I didn’t. .
    We got to talking, like normal people meeting in a park, whilst watching our children play…
    I knew exactly who he was..yet in that moment, in those 20 mins of chat. .I never once let him know that I knew who he was…I felt we were equal..We were both parents, we were doing regular things with our children, as it should be..,
    And that is my point..striped bare, crowns removed, aprons off, down to the nitty gritty, in God’s eyes we are equal..and if I may, without finding myself at the Tower for treason, we are all sinners, who have a loving Father God who loves us so very very much, that even when we were sinning, whilst we were downright disobedient, unholy, unworthy, without hope…God sent His Son to die in our place, for our sins, that we may know the depth, height, breadth, width of His unfailing love for us…I mean, come on, this is the gospel..This is the truth of it…
    No matter the crown or position in life, whether a slave or free, whether the CEO of a company or a worker, the man with the chariot or the man on foot..when all is said and done..only one thing will be the same yesterday, today, tomorrow. ..God and His great, faithful, unrelenting love for His people, and that friends is truth..

    I have preached today. ..sorry…
    Blessings abundant being prayed over you T. .Xxx

    1. Kathy says:

      Preach on, sister! Powerful words! Thank you for sharing.

    2. Heather (MNmomma) says:

      Such powerful truths Tina! Thank you sweet sister! Love and hugs!

    3. Mamajonk says:

      Love it when you preach!

    4. Karena Edwards says:

      Thank you for sharing that..brought tears to my eyes

    5. churchmouse says:

      You preach it. Tina and we will turn the page! Tremendous insight that has blessed me today. Thank you so much, dear friend