I find this chapter rather interesting. As we mentioned in the opening, this chapter shows Jonah's attitude toward the whole thing. I think this shows that he went to Nineveh and preached strictly because he had to. He was afraid of what God would do if he didn't. We see here that Jonah was afraid of what God would do if he did not do what the Lord told him to do.
Jeremiah did not want to do what the Lord wanted him to do,
Amos didn't want to, 7:14, 15.
Habakkuk didn't want to, vv. 1 and 2.
Most of the prophets did what they did because they had no choice, including Moses.
Many of the things we do in our Christian life are strictly because we must do them, or be disobedient to the commands of our Lord. Sure, it is good to feel good about doing the Lord's will, but Jonah shows us that God does not hold us accountable for how we feel about doing God's will; rather, He holds us accountable for how we do the Father's will.
Chapter four shows us Jonah's displeasure at God for the way God handled this situation. Jonah did not desire anything good from God toward the Ninevehites which they did not deserve (in Jonah's opinion). Quite the opposite; he was looking forward to their receiving the just reward for their sin and when they did not, he was very upset.
How like us: We long for the day that our enemies receive their just reward. Then when they don't, we also get very aggravated at the Lord. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, and I wish the Lord would hurry up and pour out His vengeance upon them to prove me right. Rather than praying for their repentance or for us to see God's hand in it, we anxiously await the Lord's wrath upon them.
Jonah just didn't like the way God handled this. We many times get in the same fix. We get it all planned out of how we want God to move in a particular situation. Our heart is set on it; then God doesn't work it out that way. Many times we would think that we expected God to check with us, seek our counsel, before he carried on his work. We are very short-sighted, thinking we know better how or what to do. Notice that anytime we violate the Word of God we fit into Jonah's category.
I think we had better be very careful that we don't get caught in the same trap Jonah did here.
I suppose the thing I like best about Jonah is he is a man so much like us:
a hardheaded individualist who wants it his way or no way
a man who only obeyed God because he had to, not because he wanted to
a man who get upset with the Lord for not doing it his way
a man who sat and pouted because things did not go according to what he wanted
a man who did all he could to avoid doing God's will because that will of God did not agree with what he thought or felt was best in the situation.
My, we certainly should be able to identify with Jonah. Yet Jonah had the greatest revival in the history of the world. At the very least, there were 120,000 people saved. He had more people saved than the apostles had in the book of Acts. There is hope for us.
V. 1. The scriptures tell us here that Jonah was displeased and very angry over what God accomplished here at Nineveh. Though we assume that Jonah was angry over God sparing Nineveh, Scripture does not say why Jonah was angry.
V. 2. And he prayed unto the Lord...
1) Jonah took his anger to the Lord, not to others.
He didn't get caught in the even deeper trap of when things don't go our way. We are sure everyone else knows about it. Here Jonah prays unto the Lord. He complains to God, not to his neighbor or to the first person who is handy: his friends, family, co-workers.
One person angry at another can be the "Achan in the camp." One person upset and unwilling to lay it aside can prevent God's movement in a church.
Joshua 7, gives us an account of this. Israel had won a tremendous victory at Jericho. They were commanded to burn it all as an offering of the firstfruits of the land unto the Lord. Achan saw a good garment, 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold of 50 shekels weight. He took these and hid them in his house.
No one knew these were in his house except he and the Lord, yet when God's people went out to battle at Ai, their strength was gone and they fled before their enemies.
Our strength lies in our obedience to God's word. We can pray and fast and weep before our God, yet as long as there is sin hidden in our house, then it is all as useless as it can be.
One person with sin hidden in their 'house' can cost God's people their victory, and cost this church its victory.
"But, I am not affecting anyone but myself with my sin, bitterness, anger, hard feelings. My drinking doesn't hurt anyone but me. My smoking, cussing, indifference, pride, lust and fear, all of these many things: I am not hurting anyone but me."
I think Achan shows us that sin we enjoy harboring, which prevents our obedience to God's word will cost the whole of the congregation their power of victory over the heathens around them.
How bad do we want this church to be able to reach those around you and us here? Bad enough to lay aside that sin that so easily beats us? Achan was totally unable to convince God of his love as long as he had that sin hid in his house. The congregation of the Lord lost its effectiveness in battle because one man had sin in his house.
Jonah took his displeasure to the Lord. The telephone is probably one of the greatest means of getting others involved in our sin of our day. Something doesn't agree with us and immediately we are on the phone telling everyone or anyone who will listen with us about our displeasure.
People try to get others to agree with them; they try to get a group together to join with them in their displeasure. They feel that they have been wronged, so they want others to agree.
Jonah here did not do that. God did not work like Jonah felt he should; Jonah became very displeased at God for not doing it like he wanted; he did not want repentance from Nineveh, and he looked forward to judgment upon it. Yet Jonah took it to the Lord.
Do we get caught in this same trap here? As we look around at the wickedness around us do we secretly hope that God is keeping score? That God will catch up with them with the just reward for their godliness? Or are we praying for and working for God to work in the hearts of those involved?
It appears to me like we are far more like James and John when they saw those who did not agree with them: They said Lord, "Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?" (Lk. 9:54). Our Lord told them that they were not operating in His spirit.
Maybe we know better than ask the Lord to rain fire upon those we do not agree with, so we go as Jonah went: "Lord I did right in the matter and it still did not work out right. Now I'm just going to sit here and pout. I'm going to be a martyr for Jesus now." Rather than taking that attitude to the Lord and checking our own selves for the reason we are so hostile over a situation, "Lord," says Jonah, "I'm right in this matter, and it is going all wrong; go ahead and kill me Lord if things aren't going to change."
But at least Jonah keep his displeasure to himself. He didn't make it right, he held on to his pride and displeasure all the way, but he did not spread it around and spill his displeasure all over others.
Let me mention this while we are this close. If you have a friend who is displeased about a matter and they try to unload that displeasure on you, you had better not listen.
If you do:
1.) You will be influenced. That problem is between that person
and God. Don't you allow yourself to get drug into it.
2.) You will share in the chastisement of God against that sin.
The warning cannot be strong enough: don't listen to those who are displeased about something. They will fill the head and heart with their bitter displeasure if they can find a willing ear.
Jonah complained or took his anger, displeasure to the Lord and he was wrong in displeasure. His pride was destroyed and he was devastated.
He says here, 'Lord, this is why I rebelled in the first place."
2) God knows the heart, so we might as well lay it all out before Him.
Maybe we do not feel like changing our attitude about a situation or person, but we can pray for God to work to change our attitude.
3) Might notice here. "Lord, they are going to be saved anyway so why should I go and try to reach them."
This argument will not hold water. God tells us to go, and we are to go. God tells us to do something, and we had better do it no matter how useless or hopeless it may seem. We obey and leave the results in His hands. Then if it doesn't work out as we feel it should, thank him anyway. "It will all work out whether I do it or not," this won't float.
Jonah here quotes Joel 2:13 (2:12-14) to God. Joel presents a tremendous promise of God's mercy. What a promise it is, yet it is "sounding brass and tinkling symbols" without repentance. Israel refused to heed Joel's words, yet Nineveh turned.
What a reproach upon those who professed to be God's people.
V. 3. His job finished not at all to his liking, Jonah requests God to discharge him from his office of a prophet. He was angry that God spared Assyria. He didn't want to see the coming destruction of his people Israel by Assyria.
This is the same response Elijah had after his great feast at Mt. Carmel. I Ki. 19:4. Sat down and wished to die.
1) Jonah couldn't see past the immediate future. He could not see the coming redeemer and that he pictured the redeemers works. He could not see that Nineveh's repentance was a message to the nation 5-600 years later.
We are very short-sighted. We can't get much past our own time where we live. God sees the total picture. Our job is to be a willing vessel for His use as He sees fit today. We are unable to see the future results of our obedience to His word. I Pet. 1:9, receiving the end of your faith. The salvation of souls.
2) Jonah was angary because he felt he preached God's righteous judgment in vain. Why even preach judgment if God's mercy is going to override it?
V. 4 Jonah prayed to the Lord, and now the Lord answers him. He requires Jonah to answer for his anger. This question would easily apply when we feel an angry emotion coming upon us. Do we do well to be angry? Is that anger right? We also will be required to answer for it.
Jonah, in his anger, was judging God's actions.
Wilt thou be iudge when I doe things for my glory, and when I doe not? (Geneva)
Eph. 4:26, would fit very well here. There is an anger without sin, bye all anger can easily lead to sin. Anger: a strong overwhelming emotion mostly occupied with a desire for revenge. A proper anger will excite to action to correct something.
An improper anger will:
1.) arouse without a just cause or reason.
2.) Go beyond the cause.
3.) Desire revenge and/or seek injury.
4.) Lay in the mind to be rekindled over and over. It will strengthen with meditation. In fact, it will control our thoughts and cause physical problems.
5.) Not have a forgiving spirit.
The Lord said to Jonah. "Jonah, is your anger a proper anger?" This question forced Jonah to admit he wanted to see injury to this people.
In spite of God's Word speaking directly to Jonah about his sin and evil hearth, Jonah continued on in his anger. We know better than to give in to anger, yet we get so emotionally involved that we continue on even though it is against God's word.
We make far more decisions based on emotional involvement than we do upon God's word.
As we saw, Jonah had no choice but to preach to Nineveh. Nineveh repented and God repented.
V. 5 implies that Jonah's message was short, bitter and to the point. Jonah then went outside the city where he could watch what happened to them. Evidently, Jonah still hoped that God would judge Nineveh, so he sits down and waits in hope that God would still destroy Nineveh.
He builds him a little place for protection and waits for the fire from heaven to fall or the earthquake to destroy them at the end of the 40 days.
Jonah is a good figure of the Jew of Christ day: they became very upset at the gospel going to the Gentiles, yet they would not act upon it. They did not want to see Rome come to repentance; rather, they wanted Rome to be judged. They looked forward to God's "rod of iron" against the hated Romans which never came. They rejected the Son because He would not judge the Romans as they desired.
The church today looks forward to God's judgment against the heathen rather than looking forward to the repentance and conversion of the heathen.
Rome "fell" into the hands of Christianity: it was overtaken by the early church as the church stood firm upon its ground in the gospel.
The time was up, yet Jonah did not give up: maybe Nineveh would turn from God again; maybe it was a very shallow conversion, and they would return to their sin quickly; maybe there was still a chance to see God's hand against Nineveh, so Jonah sat down to wait.
Again, how like Jonah we are: we see some one repent and profess faith in Christ, and we say, "It isn't real. It won't last." We are especially hard against those we don't feel deserve God's mercy.
V. 6. To me, this is a very interesting verse.
The Lord prepared to Jonah in five ways:
1.) A storm.
2.) A fish.
3.) A gourd.
4.) A worm.
5.) A vehement eastwind.
Five things planed and executed for one man. Thus we see that the Lord knows what button to push to get our attention, and He will push that button.
Here Jonah sits and sulks, waiting for God to destroy the city. God causes a gourd (palm crist) or small tree to grow up and provide him shade. Jonah sits here in anger that Nineveh repented and God spared the great city. Now Jonah's anger turns into gladness that a gourd has gown up for his benefit.
Jonah is very 'fickle,' easily swayed, and so are we: when things don't go our way, we are grieved. Then right in the middle of that grief comes gladness if something does go our way.
V. 7, but Jonah only has one day to enjoy the benefits of the gourd: one day Jonah enjoyed the shade, yet early the next day a worm appears and killed the palm crist. Jonah couldn't even get the second day out of it.
I have a message that we will come back to after we finnish the chapter called, The Doctrine of the Gourd.
V. 8. This wind from the desert would be extremely hot and dry. I'm quite sure it would have caused him to faint. But observe the utter foolishness of what takes place here: Jonah could have moved. Jonah didn't have to stay there.
Anger will cause us to lose all sense of reality.
Anger will have tremendous self-pity even to the point of dying for that self-pity.
Jonah was sitting here feeling sorry for himself. And when we get in this frame of mind, we also respond as did Jonah. He was upset, angry and grieved that Nineveh repented and missed God's judgment. His grief caused his self-pity to become so strong he wanted to die. Self-pity is devastating and gives our enemy tremendous advantages over us as well as infects those around us.
We do need to observe that he avoids "chiding" with God; he still honors and prays to God. His anger and pity is centered around himself: "Look how bad I have it." His anger was not directed at God or at others.
Vv. 9-11. Something of interest here: Jonah is so wrapped up in himself and his own self-pity that he completely misses or avoids God's marvelous workings. A tree large enough to provide shade grows up overnight, yet Jonah fails to see the power of God which is revealed.
The people repent.
The fish swallows him, yet he lives.
The storm finds him when he tried to run from God.
In spite of all these supernatural events in Jonah's live, he still does not face up to the mighty hand of God at work in the situations around him. He is so wrapped up in himself that he can't see God.
We can get so wrapped up in our own world that we can no longer see God and what he is doing around us. We can get so wrapped up in what we need or want that we can't see that need in the lives of others. The main thing they need is someone to show a genuine interest in them.
We might mention also the storm: we cannot run from it. Either can we yield to God's instructions from the storm or it will follow us wherever we go. Our best bet is to yield to the situation and ask the Lord to teach us what He wants for us to learn. I have yet to see anyone successfully flee from a storm, whether on their job, in their community or in a church.
This is quite amazing: all of these miraculous things here which take place, yet Jonah still refuses to yield to God.
My, how hard the human heart is and how hard the flesh can be. Jonah is still determined: things will be either his way or he will fight it all of the way. Yet God still spares Nineveh, and deals with his hard headed prophet in mercy and grace.
Jonah was a prophet of God, yet he couldn't get his heart into God's service when his message was not to those to whom he wanted to go. He could only obey God willingly when God's will and his will were the same.
He had a difficult time getting excited about obeying God when that obedience did not correspond to his personal desires. It is after the feeling, excitement and emotion of being a Christian wear off that true character is revealed. The genuine Christian will continue on for God without the pleasant emotions.
The gourd led Jonah to anger and anger such as to die because he couldn't do anything about the gourd. We all have these gourds in our lives: those things which are beyond our control, yet we let them control us and our emotions.
What happened to Jonah was extremely silly, but so true of human nature. The events beyond our control us: they cause depression, sorrow, grief, anger and fear. But they should cause us to get into God's word and search it out for the principles to apply in our lives so that God can work them out.
We cannot control the circumstances around us nor can we control how others act. Really, when we get right down to it, there is very little that we can control and that which we can control we very seldom do control.
(Ps. 119:165, "Great peace have they which love my law
and nothing shall offend them.)
When the flesh controls us, it shows that there is an area we do not love his law in.
When out emotions control us, it shows that there is an area we do not love his law in.
When the influence of others control us, it shows that there is an area we do not love his law in.
You say, "But you don't know what he did to me, or, you don't know what they said to me, therefore, I have the right to be angry." No, the only right we have is to obey God and let his word control us.
Most of the things that upset us are of no more importance than was this gourd. If we are taught anything from scripture, it is that our outside circumstances are not to control us; rather, we are to be controlled by God's Word. Our hope, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost is to be from within.
Ro 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Far to often, we think our joy and peace lies in seeing our desires and needs met. Our Lord told us something quite different in Lk. 9:23-27: Our joy comes from serving him over our own desires.
He is much stronger over in Jn. 12:24-26.
1.) We must die to our own desires.
2.) That which we hang on to over His desires we will lose.
3.) 26, we are called to service to our Master, not Him to us.
Far to often, we measure everything from our own selves. How does it line up with what I want or what is best for me.
The gourd for which Jonah invested nothing brought great joy to him, and just as quickly brought great anger to him.
Aren't we the same? When God sends us a blessing, we really rejoice in it, but when it is removed and gone, we are angry. The temporal things which amount to no more than this gourd amounted to create more happiness and joy in us than all of the things of God combined.
The things of this world which mean no more than this gourd
did gets more of our attention and concern than does the "great
city of Nineveh."
We prune and weep over the gourd while the world perishes.
We can get head over heels involved in a gourd which has little or not eternal value, yet we can hardly endure God's service. In fact, we even go out of the way to avoid God's will or to avoid doing what we know pleases him.
The vain things of this world: they occupy our time, talent, emotions and strength and they leave very little of our heart with which to serve God.
We can be assured that the vain gourd which we think more of than we do of God has a worm, or many worms, prepared for it by God. He tells us he will have nothing before him.
What is that vain thing which:
1.) We have more interest in than we do Him?
2.) We find more joy in than in Him?
3.) Has a hold upon us?
4.) We regard more?
5.) Prevents our pleasing Him with our life.
A good measure of this would be the dedication we have to Him to search His word for His good and perfect and acceptable will for our lives. Those things we allow to interfere, those would be gourds which come between us and our Lord have a worm prepared for them.
Other pictures with the gourd
I think there may be another picture here in this gourd.
A) It grew up and prospered. This could easily be a picture of Israel in its greatness and prosperity.
B) Then the worm struck it. This could be a reference to Israel being stricken with blindness so salvation could come to the Gentiles. Jonah being a prophet of God could have easily seen this and been very upset over what he saw, in fact, angry to the death. Did Jonah see that Israel would have to be cut off so salvation could come to the much larger group of people, the Gentiles?
Right hand and their left hand. If this refers to 120,000 children before the age of accountability, and if we figure this to be 1/5 of the population, we are talking of a population of about 600,000. A rather large city, especially for that period of time.
V. 11, children could also refer to the coming church which we read of in I Cor. 1:27. But God hath chosen the foolish things of this world...
Also, Matt. 18:1-6, who is the greatest... Mk. 10:15.
This could also refer to the need to become as a little child for entrance into the Kingdom: complete dependence upon Him.
And much cattle... 3:8, we see that the cattle also share in the results of mans sin. God is concerned about the animals also, although not as the "Animal Rights" group is today.
Some in the Identity movement use 3:8 to prove that animals in Scripture can refer to non-Anglo-Saxons.
Conclusion of Jonah.
Here a man of God caught in the trap of either his way or no way. How easy is it for us to get caught in this trap.
When things didn't go his way then he had a hard time with it.
He has far more attachment to and interested in the vain, empty, things of this world than toward the things of God.
A city repented and turned to God, yet Jonah was unable to find any rejoicing in this.
We also see that God is more interested in showing His might through the conversion of sinners than He is in showing His might through destruction and death against the sinner.
If these prophets of the old testament show us anything, it is that God uses people like you and I. If we will only obey God's word in whatever situation we find ourselves in then He could do great things in and around us no matter how hopeless the situation would seem.
(On web in Book 5, #25)
DOCTRINE OF THE GOURD
As I have contact with several pastors as they write, phone and face to face conversation, I have noticed a common theme among those who try to present the whole council of God to their people: God's people in general display an unwillingness to listen to any message which does not sooth them and make them feel better.
They love messages against the sin outside the church, yet a message against sin and irresponsibility towards God within the church will make them very uncomfortable. Such a message many times will cause them to seek a messager which will not confront them so harshly. Thus any message which will place the destruction and judgment of America anywhere except where it belongs is welcomed with open arms.
America is gone; within five years it will be nothing like we know of or have known of in the past. Yet because it is happening so slowly, the people are accepting it; because it will require sacrifice to change, few will do it.
I have found that as a general rule, God's people like strong hell-fire messages that blame the destruction of America upon the abortions, whoremongers, drug pushers, sodomites, Communist in high places, false religions, cults, occult, IRS, big government, the FEDS, the bankers and many other things we can name.
Books by the truck load are being written and bought like crazy which exposes conspiracies of all kinds: conspiracies to overthrow God. Yet, these conspiracies have been around forever, Ps. 2. Conspiracies ARE NOT the problem. The problem is that God's people won't glorify Him as God, Joel 15:6-9; Rom. 1:21.
People enjoy messages which separate the law of God from the grace of God: "The law was for another time, not today. We are under grace now..." Such theology permits compromise of all kinds.
People enjoy messages which will deal with their inner self which which will allow them to cope with theirselves, their neighbors and with society in general.
As a whole, God's people do not want a message which holds then responsibile for the destruction of America. It is their indifference toward God's command to evangelize and teach the whole council of God to everyone that is destroying society.
People dislike being told that it is their indifference to God's church, law, and people which is bringing judgment. We would much rather hear about how abortion or the IRS is bringing destruction upon American. But the cause of the destruction is sitting in Bible-believing churches; the cause found in the pulpits not down at the Southside Bar and Grill or at the abortion clinic in Indianapolis.
The cause lies within the heart of God's people. God's controversy is with His people not with the heathen, Micah 6:2. The problem is found in Amos 2:4 and Amos 3:3: God's people despise the law of the Lrod, so the Lord refuses to walk with them. The Lord tells us that He cannot walk with those who do not agree with Him on His word.
This doctrine not only teaches the problem with America is big government, IRS, or the bankers, it also teaches us to ignore the problem, stick our head in the sand and it will go away. His people love the message that everything is okay and will continue to be as it was in the days of their fathers as they pursue the desires of their heart, the American dream of pleasure and prosperity, Zeph. 1:12 (besides, we will be gone before any major problem develops).
Let's call this "The Doctrine of the Gourd." People will travel hundreds of miles to learn about this gourd. They will spend untold dollars on accommodations. They will buy books by the score and bookstores thrive on this doctrine of the gourd today. They will import speakers from the farthest reaches of the earth, California, who will preach this doctrine. They will flock to the churches and give their money to those who will promote this "Doctrine of the Gourd."
I spoke against this doctrine and some well known promoters of this doctrine of our day, and some folks got upset. If I would have spoken against Robert Schuller they would have said, "amen," yet this Doctrine of the Gourd is so well dressed up and smells so much better in its new dress that when I spoke against it as presented in its new clothing, it caused problems.
Now, let's consider Jonah, 4:6-11. Here we see Jonah so angry over God destroying his gourd that he wished to die. If a man had killed the gourd, Jonah might have taken out his anger against the man.
This Doctrine of the Gourd made Jonah feel better about himself. It protected him from the hot sun. It might even have shielded him from the wind and it helped him to relax. It provided refreshment. It really doesn't cost him anything in sacrifice. It didn't cause hard feelings and it didn't create any friction over authority.
I'm afraid Christians love this Doctrine of the Gourd because it allows them to work rather than serve God. It allows them to go on about their own business while Nineveh goes to hell. It allows them to dismiss Nineveh with "they are wicked heathens, God will catch up with them one day and then it will be too bad for them. One day He will rule them with a rod of iron and I will help so why get involved now with influencing them to turn back to God."
Also, I might add, this Doctrine of the Gourd can be preached by Billy Graham behind the iron curtain. It can be preached by the missionaries on the field. It will attract politicians to it because if offends very little. It easily gains state approval because it is no threat to them. It makes people love everyone, even loves those who are trying to overthrow God.
This Doctrine of the Gourd allows the pursuit of worldly pleasures and possessions. It permits folks to go their own way and do their own thing as long as they feel better about theirselves and God. It allows Nineveh to go too hell with a clear conscience, sitting in front of a TV set watching a ball game or a dirty movie. We see this doctrine in absolute control of the church today. People want a "Bible Doctrine" which will make them feel better, which will benefit them, and this is it.
This Doctrine of the Gourd doesn't require holiness and responsibility toward God. This doctrine permits dressing like and acting like the world. It allows the flesh to control, Rom. 13:14; I Pet. 1:15- 16.
This doctrine doesn't tell about responsibility for Nineveh or to God. A responsibility of a holy and separated life which God can use to reach them, I Cor. 15:34.
People like to hear this doctrine. They like to hear about God's Gourds. They want to hear about the material blessings that is their's in Christ. They want to hear a message on how God can benefit them and help them cope, not how God can turn a situation around no matter how hopeless it seems if they will only be faithful in their responsibility to God. We enjoy a message which gives rest from the hot sun and effort. We enjoy a message which permits sitting down and enjoying the benefits of salvation while we wait for God to judge Nineveh.
We love this Doctrine of the Gourd. Many will drive for miles to hear it and will flee from a church which does not present it. People don't want to hear about their responsibility to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Human nature doesn't want to have to lay aside what it desires for what God desires.
Far too many of God's people will search high and low for these gourds, for the message (or church) where they feel comfortable. If a preacher doesn't make us feel uncomfortable about our relationship with God then something is wrong. God's word exposes sin and gives the remedy. The word of God will make us uncomfortable about our indifference to His Word and His will. It will make us uncomfortable about society around us, and calls for us to depart from iniquity, Acts 2:37; I Cor. 15:34; II Tim. 2:19; 3:16, etc..
This Doctrine of the Gourd will expose Nineveh's sins. It tells us how bad Nineveh is yet it will not say that the answer lies in the heart of God's people. This doctrine will allow us to sit back and even pray for Nineveh to go too hell (be destroyed) because it doesn't place any responsibility upon God's people to return to God in obedience. It will place the responsibility everywhere except in the individuals relationship to God and this relationship revealed in his actions, Ja. 1:22.
There are many of these gourds growing around us. Remember, this was God's Gourd. This was something provided by God for Jonah's benefit. God raised it up in order to show Jonah how foolish he was in being concerned over it. It emphasis: 1) how much God owes to man -- He doesn't owe us a thing. 2) how much benefit man deserves from God. 3) how much benefit salvation is for man.
Salvation is to equip us to live a holy life of right priorities in obeying God so God can reach those around us. Salvation is a life of responsibility to God not of responsibility of God to man, I Pet. 1:18- 20.
This Doctrine of the Gourd doesn't preach holiness and separation. It avoids the law of God and presents grace in contrast to law. It provides another way of sanctification other than obedience to God's law-word. It permits a man-centered, self-centered, me and mine gospel. It permits sitting back and letting the world go to hell and hopes it does it soon so the Lord will have to judge it, yet, Jonah is the one who faced the judgment for being unconcerned about Nineveh.
The Doctrine of the Gourd had nothing to do with the glory of God. It will do nothing to bring Nineveh closer to God or even bring God's people closer to God in obedience. It sat back and complain because things didn't go his way. This doctrine is based on how much it will make me feel better about myself, and about Nineveh going to hell, and about God. With Jonah it brought exceeding gladness, it will bring large crowds and big bucks. It is well supported and flourishes for a day. Yet, there is a worm prepared and the gourd will die.
This "new" self-acceptance," "make me feel good," "what is in it for me," gospel will wither and die. It will work no better today than it did for Eve. It was solely for Jonah's benefit and cost him nothing. Salvation without cost and responsibility is not scriptural. He is the only one who would benefit from it yet look at his concern over this gourd.
Jonah, a prophet of God, yet, he is caught in this trap. Much more concerned over the things of this world which would benefit him than he was over the things of God. If he got caught in this "trap of the gourd" then how much more of a danger for us. Have we swallowed this doctrine? We get excited and even enjoy the messages against the sins of Nineveh, yet, we don't like to hear about our responsibility to God and His law, or to His Church or to His people. There is death in this gourd, I Ki. 4:39.
Are we more concerned with the gourds of this world (even those which God provides for our benefit) than we are over the kingdom of God and Nineveh? Which will cause us more heartbreak, grief, and anger, the lose of the gourds which God has provided for our comfort, or the loss of Nineveh?
There is a worm prepared which will destroy those things which is valued above service to God -- over the advancement of His cause, over the love for His word, His work, His church, His people, His law.
The people of God have relaxed in the shade of this gourd and I'm afraid the worm is already at work eating away at this gourd which has prevented the accepting of responsibilities before Him. This is indeed sad. Jonah, a great man of God, yet, he was more concerned about this gourd than he was over seeing Nineveh repent, turn and submit to God. Angry, even unto death, over a gourd. This is crazy to say the least, yet we find ourselves here all to often.
This is probably the saddest thing about this book. A man chosen of God, for God's glory. A man who was to reveal God's glory to the world around him by his obedience and love for God. A man publicly identified with the God of heaven. Yet, he was more concerned about his gourd than about a nation going to hell. More concerned about his own well-being and comfort than he was about a nation. More involved in something which was given to him by God for his own comfort then he was in a cause for Christ.
Human nature desires that God spare our prosperity far more than we desire He spare that unsaved person next to us. Because if there were more concerned about that person there would be a HOLY life before them which God could use to reach them.
Before we get too hard on Jonah, let's look at something here, I Cor. 4:7, "For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
"Jonah. why do you get so angry over that gourd as though you by your own might caused it to grow?" And may I ask, "Why do we get so involved with the things of this world as though it was by our own might that we accomplished them?" We are experts at getting head over heels involved in these vain things while Nineveh goes to hell, as a NATION sells out to ungodliness. We are experts at sitting in the shade of our gourds while those around us perish.
We are experts at pursuing the temporal things, the things that are seen and that benefit us while Nineveh perishes. II Cor. 4:18, "while we look not a the things which are see, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Every one of us have our gourds. We claim them as ours, although they are God's. We set under their shade and wait to see what God will do to the heathens around us. We get far more involved in them than we do in the souls of men. Any threat to that gourd which we find pleasure in, will get far more of a response from our emotions than will the fate of the wicked.
The vanities of this world, the gourds that give pleasure. We are far more interested in them than we are: about advancing the kingdom of God; about bringing glory to God with all that we say and do; about obeying God's law-word so that Nineveh can be reached for God, BY GOD with His mercy and grace.
What is that gourd? What is that temporal thing that causes more interested than in advancing God's kingdom and reaching Nineveh? Nineveh could only be reached as Jonah accepted his responsibility to obey God's word.
It could be the job, home, pleasures, habits, TV shows, leisure, families, or as with Jonah, PRIDE, "My way or no way at all." The list is endless, the things which gets more concern than Nineveh. The things which prevent seeking first the kingdom of God, seeking first obedience to Him and His Word, seeking first pleasing God. More concerned about than seeing Nineveh receive God's mercy and grace.
God has a worm prepared for that gourd. For that which gets attention above Him and His will. It is far better to give that gourd to Him willingly than to see the worm strike and it wither up. It's time to apply the meal of God's Word to that gourd.
We can run and protect the gourd all we want to. We can condemn the preacher for attacking our gourd, if we please. We can fight off the predators against our gourd.
We can take every effort in the world to see that our gourd lives on, yet, there is a worm prepared and it will eat the gourd.
The same God which provided the prosperity, health and strength, those things for our comfort, can remove it just as fast. They can be removed overnight when we allow them to prevent our concern for Him and His Word, and our responsibilities.
God's people love this doctrine, yet we must stand for the
truth of God's total law-word.