A Final Look at Jonah’s Character

Jonah gives us one last look at his flawed character at the end of the book.

Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.  Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.  But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”  — Jonah 4:5-9

When reading this passage, it almost seems out of place in this book.  But I wonder if the book of Jonah is about the repentance of the Ninevite people, or is actually a tale of a flawed prophet?  Could the point of this book be that God can provide salvation, even in the presence of imperfect prophets, preachers, and men of God?  From the outset, the book of Jonah is unusual for the Old Testament.  It really is unlike any other Minor Prophet book, for it is centered around a very flawed selection for a prophet.  But the end result is the same – God can overcome these flaws, and He can turn sin into salvation.


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