Sunday, July 2, 2023


Debra Isenbletter, Pastor
Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri

Jonah 4:7—”But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.” 

Matthew Henry: “God that provided comfort for him provided also an affliction for him in that very thing which was his comfort; the affliction did not come by chance but by divine direction and appointment.” 

I think this is one of the things that is hardest for God’s people to understand or to accept. It is that sometimes the hard things, the difficult things, the painful things in our lives are allowed by and used by the Lord for our benefit. What is hard is to see how those things can be a benefit to us and how they can be allowed in our lives.  Jonah needed to see this truth in his life and see that comfort and affliction sometimes work together for our good.

“God prepared a worm…” Again, God “prepared” something specifically for Jonah’s instruction.  It is the third thing God prepared for his rebellious servant. When He prepared it, this means that He created it and He controlled it. It had a purpose and a mission all its own. This was a worm created especially for this plant, it was a worm that loved and fed on this plant.  God prepared something to take away the comfort that Jonah enjoyed and may have taken for granted.  It was a small worm but it was mighty.  God often uses little things to do mighty works.  

What Jonah needs to learn is that even if the gourd is taken away, even if his comfort is taken away, it does not mean that because the gourd is gone, that the Presence of the Lord is gone. The Lord is always there in the darkest of times, His Presence is even more precious in those times.

“when the morning rose the next day” or “when the morning dawned the next day.” This is God’s perfect timing, He waited until the “next day.”  The past day was a day of rest, it was a day of reflection and it was a day of rejoicing.  The present day will be a day of change, a day of testing and a day of suffering. What a difference this next day will be!  In this we see that God chooses the type of judgment and He also choose the time of judgment.  Nothing is by chance. This also shows that we have no guarantee that every day will be the same, that every day will be easy, that every day will be filled with blessings.  Our Lord blends together in perfect harmony both blessing and burdens and they work in conjunction with each other. They are the sweet and bitter experiences. They are the mountain top and valley experiences.  The lesson is that in each of those experiences we will always find our Savior. He will succor and sustain us in the sorrowful times and lift us up to glorious heights in the joyous times.

“and it smote the gourd that it withered” or “it attacked the plant and it withered” (Amplified/NAS).  The result is unmistakable.  The purpose and the destruction of the worm is seen.  It “smote” or “attacked” the gourd.  This word can speak of striking lightly or severely.  Here the worm does severe damage, unrepairable damage, unrecoverable damage.  The worm either fed on the leaves or bore into the shoot or stalk of the plant and fed there.  Caterpillars are called “eating machines” because they eat nonstop, this worm did the same thing.  The plant could not withstand the attack or recover from it.  The gourd “withered,” it “dried up” and it “died.” Jonah could see this happening but he could not stop it.  

What is so striking is Jonah’s attitude.  He surely knew the Lord provided the gourd for him, did he not realize the Lord removed the gourd?  What we do know is that in either case, the providing and the removing, that Jonah did not seem to praise the Lord.  He did not praise the Lord in all things and for all things.  Jonah needed to learn to “give thanks always for all things” (Eph.5:20).  Jonah needed to give thanks “in everything” (1Th.5:18). That means in everything no matter what the circumstance may be to be thankful and give thanks. We do this as a new creation. We do this because it is the will of God.  Jonah needed to learn that everything but the Word “withereth” and “fadeth” (Isa.40:4-8).  Jonah needed to learn that the Lord “giveth” and “taketh away” (Job 1:21) and to accept “the loss of all things” (Phil.3:8). Those are the lessons that we are learning today through the experiences we go through, through the blessings and the losses in our lives.

Jonah did not seem to see the Lord’s hand in every circumstance.  He did rejoice when the gourd grew up and gave him shade for “he was exceeding glad for the gourd,” note it is “for the gourd,” it is for the comfort and for the shade but did he mention the Lord in his rejoicing? Did he acknowledge the One who provided the gourd? Now the gourd is removed and the Lord is still not mentioned or acknowledged, just the loss.  The true test of faith is when we are willing to give thanks, not just giving thanks.  It is one thing to be thankful for a relief or reprieve from a difficult situation but another thing to give the Lord the credit and give Him thanks for that relief.  Then there is the ultimate test of our faith, it is when that relief or reprieve is taken away and the situation either returns or gets even worse.  What do we do then?  Do we give thanks? Did Jonah give thanks? No!  Did Job give thanks? Yes! Job praised the Lord even when he lost everything,  he understood that the Lord was in control even if everything was out of control. He said, “the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21). This is the testimony of Job.  He was “a perfect and an upright man” who held “fast to his integrity” (Job 2:3).  I remember listening to Brother David Franklin speak on Job and he said that when it refers to Job being “perfect” it means that Job allowed God to finish the work in his life.  That is what God is trying to do in Jonah’s life and in our lives. He wants to finish what He has begun and He will do it through His grace.