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Jonah’s Resentment, God’s Restraint (Jonah 4:1-4)

January 31, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week’s sermon from Jonah 4 emphasizes God’s mercy toward an undeserved people and His resentful servant.  Pastor Carter paralleled this record of God, Jonah and the Ninevites with the parable of the Prodigal Son, which also consisted of a loving Father, a repentant son, and a resentful older brother (Luke 15).  The focus of this sermon is on Jonah’s resentment, but also on God’s restraint.

Jonah Series

What Displeased Jonah?

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry (Jonah 4:1).” 

The repentance of Nineveh and the relenting of God displeased Jonah exceedingly, and made him angry (Jonah 3:10).  Rather than rejoicing, Jonah was vexed in his soul, not only because the Ninevites had repented, but what God had done in response to their repentance.  The nation of Israel knew how evil the people was in Nineveh, considering it was the central city in the Assyrian empire; the Assyrians were evil people, terrorists, who terrorized all of their neighbors.  Therefore, Jonah along with the rest of Israel wanted the Assyrians destroyed; and if God would move in destruction against the Ninevites and the Assyrians as a whole, no one would have lost any sleep, because no one cries when the wicked get their just deserts, do we?

Jonah Resents Their Repentance

And he prayed to the Lord and said,’O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country (Jonah 4:2)?‘”

The wicked should be destroyed, right?  Sometimes they are not.  Instead of destroying the wicked, sometimes God redeems them.  What should be then our response, as God’s people, when God is pleased to redeem the wicked? Well, Jonah’s response was resentment.  Pastor Carter defines resentment as the feeling of anger or frustration at a real or perceived wrong or grievance. Jonah’s anger and frustration at what God did for the Ninevites gave way to his expression of resentment as he spoke to God; he prayed to God, not in submission but rather praying seeking to justify and vindicate himself before God, while seeking to vilify God. Jonah wanted his enemies destroyed, not redeemed, like the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jonah did not want his younger brother to return, “Let them stay lost…” But, God is gracious, namely, God is good. God desires good for His creation, especially His people (Ps. 119:68).

Jonah Knew God

“…for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love(Jonah 4:2)

Jonah knows who God is because he knows how God has revealed Himself, and desires Himself to be known; that is the only way to know God, as He has revealed Himself in His Word. God is gracious, He is merciful, and He is patient abounding in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:8; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15, 103:8, 145:8; Joel 2:13).

Gods Agenda Was Not Jonahs Agenda

Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live (Jonah 4:3).”

At this point, Jonah could only think of himself, he resented the Nineveh’s repentance, his own calling by God, and then he also resented God’s grace. Jonah wanted no part of God’s agenda. Overall, Jonah’s resentment really boils down to Jonah being angry with God for being God, because God’s grace to the Ninevites would mean that the Ninevites were just like the Israelites. God is merciful; God looks beyond your faults, not that we do not have faults, to supply our needs; our need of forgiveness, mercy, and Him (Ps. 46:1).

God’s Restraint

And the LORD said,’Do you do well to be angry (Jonah 4:4)?‘”

Jonah refused to rejoice with those who would rejoice in the gospel of grace, and his resentment causes him to be numb to this insanity of racism and nationalism. Jonah forgot that we are all made of one blood; Jonah, the Ninevites, black, white, all of us are created from one blood; and we are all created from the dust (Ecc. 3:20; Acts 17:26). Therefore, we need to understand that my lump of dust is not better than your lump of dust, neither is your lump of dust better than mine. In fact, if God is pleased to give grace and to save any lump of dust, all other lumps of dust ought to rejoice! However, despite Jonah’s sinful resentment and disrespect toward Him and His ways, God is restrained. God is slow to anger (i.e. patient), namely, God is self-controlled although He does not have to be, considering He is great in power (Nahum 1:3).

What is the Cure to the Sin of Resentment?

Like Jonah, many of us grow angry and resentful, because God does not do what we want Him to do when we want Him to do it. Do you realize this is sin? Jonah was in sin. The only cure for sin is to reflect on the nature of God; when you understand again, the goodness and grace of God, the patience and kindness of God, the love and mercy of God; when you reflect upon them in the midst of your resentment, you are faced with the question Jonah was faced with, “have you any reason to be angry (Jonah 4:4)?” Repent, and rejoice with those who rejoice in Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2014 9:02 am

    I do believe all of the ideas you have introduced
    on your post. They’re really convincing and will
    definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick
    for starters. May just you please extend them a bit
    from next time? Thanks for the post.

    • christdied4us permalink*
      May 1, 2014 12:27 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to consider these things, your comment is encouraging. Likewise, these posts correspond with the weekly sermons from our Sunday Worship service at East Point Church. I generally wait until the middle of the week to post the sermon summary to encourage people to continue to think through these things until the next time we meet. If you interested in hearing the sermons feel free to listen to them here: If you are near the East Point, Georgia area, I invite you and your family to join us on Sundays. For more information, you can visit our website at I am glad you find these post helpful and I pray that the Lord would use them along with the sermons to draw more people unto Himself.


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