Debra Isenbletter, PastorChristian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
Jonah 4:10—”Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:”
Jonah’s Pity: “Then said the Lord”—Jonah had answered the Lord’s question, but he had answered in anger, he did not hide it, he was not ashamed of it, and he had not yet judged it. Now, it is the Lord’s turn and He answered Jonah differently. He speaks personally to His prophet. He speaks powerfully. He speaks patiently to His prophet. The Lord could have spoken in anger but He did not. The very way He answers Jonah is part of the lesson He is trying to teach him. He shows patience to Jonah to teach Jonah patience. What the Lord does is look past the anger and focus on another emotion that Jonah felt, a different emotion, an emotion he maybe did not even admit to himself. The Lord focuses on the pity behind the anger. He focuses on the plant that caused the pity. He uses the pity for the plant to teach Jonah to pity the people. The Lord reveals His patience which reveals His grace. It is His patience made verbal and His grace made visible. It is “a word fitly spoken” (Prov.25:11). It is “grace seasoned with salt” (Col.4:6). It is knowing “how ye ought to answer” (Col.4:6). It is “speaking the truth in love” (Eph.4:15). It is how we should answer and can answer because of the Christ life. It is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Thou hast had pity on the gourd”— The word “pity” has two levels of meaning. It means “to look upon with compassion.” It means to see it. It means “to have compassion for it and to feel it. It is one thing to look and another to feel. Jonah did both. The Lord uses pity and not anger as the basis for His lesson to His prophet. Jonah did not just feel anger, he felt pity, though he did not admit it. Jonah said that he was angry for the gourd but the Lord said he was sorry for the gourd. Jonah saw the worth of the plant and felt the loss of the plant. The Lord knows our heart better than we do. He knew Jonah’s heart better than Jonah did. The gourd is a practical lesson used to teach Jonah a spiritual lesson. He knows Jonah felt compassion for the plant, He wants Jonah to feel compassion for the people. Jonah needs to be like Abraham who felt compassion for the wicked in Sodom. He had prayed the righteous might be spared (Gen.18:23-33). Abraham would have rejoiced if there were any righteous that were spared. The people of Nineveh were not righteous but they had repented, God had spared them and Jonah should have rejoiced. The Lord will show the value of the plant is not greater than the people. He is the Creator. He has complete power over His creation.
God’s Plant: “for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:”— By this statement the Lord declares that this was His plant and that He is Sovereign. He can do what He wants with what He creates. There are four statements that the Lord makes to show His Sovereignty.
God Planted it: “for the which thou hast not labored.” Jonah did not work for it, or ask for it. It was provided by grace, and Jonah received and accepted it through grace.
God Nurtured it: “neither madest it grow., Jonah did not give it life or sustain that life.
God Created it: “which came up in a night,” this was the first miraculous sign. It came up unexpectedly and suddenly. It came up because it was needed. It was a blessing from the Lord.
God Destroyed it: “and perished in a night,” this is the second miraculous sign. It lasted only a short time. It met a need when it was given and it revealed a need when it was taken away. The One who gave it also took it away. We do not understand it. We do not question it. We can only learn from it. God has a right to do what He wants. He can give life and He can take life. He can destroy a people and He can forgive a people. His justice and righteousness is balanced by His mercy and His grace. This is a lesson in the power and the provision and the sovereignty of God.
Is Eternal, Ps. 103:17, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him…
And Boundless, Ps. 108:4, “For thy mercy is great above the heavens…and reacheth unto the clouds.”
Making Salvation Possible, Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”