Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
7 But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 8 And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”
10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” Jonah 4:5-11
We all know the story of Jonah, the whale was ALMOST the main character. BUT did you know about the tree, or plant? The tree that God gave and then took away? The tree that was a test of Jonah’s heart? The tree that was a reflection of Jonah’s unsuspected selfishness?
You see Jonah didn’t want God to save the Ninevites because he already told them they would be punished. Jonah’s reputation was on the line. He was known as one of God’s greatest, so for him to be a false prophet would have been devastating to say the least.
The tree was how God tried to show Jonah that he was more concerned about his reputation than he was for 100s of
thousands of people to live. That last verse is where the story ends. I would like to think Jonah figured it out. That the tree was all it took to help Jonah realize his self-absorption, but honestly, I doubt it. He was a great prophet, but he was also human!
Pessimistic? Perhaps. But what about us? Aren’t we more willingly to save our own face than to have God use us to save a life? Don’t we let the fear of our own lives prevent us from pursuing the dream that God put in our heart? Aren’t their times we just get completely angry with God because things don’t go our way?
“Jonah was a prophet…But He Really Never Got it!” –Veggie Tales
I pray that not be true for me or you!