Vs. 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.” Question: Why did Jonah flee to Tarshish? Because like we were reminded yesterday, Jonah knew how compassionate God is. Even though the Ninevites were an evil people, they are just as deserving! This is what Jonah struggled with. He was angry and upset that he had to deal with his enemies in this fashion (vs. 1-4). It’s easy to be quick to judgment with Jonah’s response, but think about it. How would we respond if someone kidnapped and killed our own children? The last thing most of us would want is abundant love and compassion. How quick Jonah responds to the reprieve of a vine that helped shade him (vs. 6). But that temporary happiness reverts back to anger as a worm came and at the vine (vs. 7). God would use these things to give Jonah a lesson about what is really important in life. Jonah allowed the things of this world to bring happiness and anger, but forgot what is most important (vs. 10-11).
Regarding application…Being Angry. Vs. 4, “But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” Haven’t we just been so exasperated and angry we say things like, “Just kill me now!” That is exactly what Jonah was doing and he stated it three times (vs. 3, 8, 9) for emphasis. Jonah perhaps had a right to be angry, but God is slow to anger (vs. 2). Over the years, I’ve had reasons enough to be very angry at situations in my life. But God is teaching me to realize that anger is not something we should be quick to do. Certainly, there are appropriate times to be angry (Remember, Jesus’s anger at the temple on two occasions). But, we should be slow to anger at all times. I still remember quite vividly the first youth group I was a Youth Pastor at. One of the older high school students who had a car took a younger student and he peeled out of the parking lot and raced down the street. The church was located in a neighborhood. I was angry because of the inherent danger. I was angry because of the bad example to this young man. I was angry at our own testimony to the neighbors around us. When those two came back, I yelled at the top of my voice at the two students and the other group members who didn’t even do anything. I was in mid-twenties and allowed my emotions to get the better of me. In the end, God reminded Jonah and us that His compassion is for all people; Jonah, the sailors and the Ninevites!