Jonah 4:9 (NIV)
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?”
“It is,” he said. “I am angry enough to die”.
We have often been met with a consequence where something just feels unfair. We look at others who seem to be so sinful that we cannot imagine God wanting to spare them from sin.
Jonah was such a prophet. He walked down the streets of the bloodthirsty Ninevites exclaiming, “Nineveh will be overthrown”. He believed they deserved to be destroyed because of their desire to conquer Israel.
God had a different plan. Yet, Jonah who was caught up in the belly of a fish still was sure God didn’t mean this. God was trying to show the need for Jonah’s obedience. Jonah knew what God said, but …. Oh, Oh, Jonah used the “but” word. When we say to God, “ but I know a better way”, that cannot be good.
God intended Ninevah to become an ally instead of an enemy for Israel. His plan was for them to believe in Him and worship the one true God. Jonah could not see this he did not pray for the true purpose and took his eyes off of God.
To further teach Jonah a lesson, God had a protecting vine grow around Jonah. The vine was gloriously filled with fruit and leaves. This vine, kept Jonah quite comfortable. The next morning when Jonah awoke the vine had shriveled, and once again Jonah was angry.
So then here is what God said to Jonah and us. Verse (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 Nenevah 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?”
What does this say to us? Remember this scripture?
John 15:5 Jesus says; “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:8 Jesus says; “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Jonah was not remaining in God. Jesus is saying “you need to remain in Me as the branch” to bear His fruit of purpose.
I visited a renowned vineyard in Napa, Ca some years ago. The Casa I stayed in was so Italian flavored. There was a picturesque window allowing the view of this vineyard. Now, it was late February when I was visiting. During those times the vineyard is in a resting mode. However, much to my delight I saw the furrows around the vines were blooming. There was a golden layer of blooming mustard plants thriving on the hills.
As I looked further down the hill, I noticed two people with pliers in their gloved hands pruning the vines. I wondered why they were doing this now. There was hardly anything showing on the vines but wood.
Later I met one of the gardeners and asked, “Why all the mustard and why are you pruning now?” He answered, “The mustard will be tilled in the furrows soon and provide the nutrient food for the vines to grow. This is the perfect time to prune the branches back so they will soak up the food and present a completed harvest.”
I realized later, that God was showing me His process of bearing fruit for Him. There was a time I will admit, that I became Jonah, I did not remain with Jesus. I like Jonah thought my way was better than His. Even though God did not allow a huge fish to swallow me, He still taught me how to be obedient to Him.
There is no right to be angry with God. I really do not want to use the word “but” any longer.
I will remain in Him.