Jonah and the worm (and the Gourd?) or what's your Gourd?
Bottles from the Springs-7/16/19 Jonah and the worm (and the Gourd?) (or what's your Gourd) Well, as this writer was at a distant remote location having to do with my anniversary, (we visited Key Largo). The gathered saints at 12 Springs Warehouse in Rosemary District in Sarasota heard about and considered a guided tour through Jonah 4. Not what one might consider the main action of the story but maybe, as it revealed the character of the God revealed in the Bible by a dialogue between the prophet and his Maker, the more important part for us in the 21st century to consider. 1 But this was very displeasing to Yonah, and he became angry.
2 He prayed to ADONAI, "Now, ADONAI, didn't I say this would happen, when I was still in my own country? That's why I tried to get away to Tarshish ahead of time! I knew you were a God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in grace, and that you relent from inflicting punishment.
3 Therefore, ADONAI, please, just take my life away from me; it's better for me to be dead than alive!"
4 ADONAI asked, "Is it right for you to be so angry?"
5 Yonah left the city and found a place east of the city, where he made himself a shelter and sat down under it, in its shade, to see what would happen to the city.
6 ADONAI, God, prepared a castor-bean plant and made it grow up over Yonah to shade his head and relieve his discomfort. So Yonah was delighted with the castor-bean plant.
7 But at dawn the next day God prepared a worm, which attacked the castor-bean plant, so that it dried up.
8 Then, when the sun rose, God prepared a scorching east wind; and the sun beat down on Yonah's head so hard that he grew faint and begged that he could die, saying, "I would be better off dead than alive."
9 God asked Yonah, "Is it right for you to be so angry about the castor-bean plant?" He answered, "Yes, it's right for me to be so angry that I could die!"
10 ADONAI said, "You're concerned over the castor-bean plant, which cost you no effort; you didn't make it grow; it came up in a night and perished in a night.
11 So shouldn't I be concerned about the great city of Ninveh, in which there are more than 120,000 people who don't know their right hand from their left - not to mention all the animals?"
Now as you may observe I am using the CJB version or Contemporary Jewish Bible. So the prophet Jonah is outside the City having marched right through and pausing enough to announce the message of the Lord to the Ninevites, and then kept marching right out of the city. The story is full of Greats and extremes so Jonah's short and pithy sermonette has maximum impact upon the entire population of the city from King to beggar and animal/pets. Note that Jonah has gone outside the city to a place in the east to sit and sulkily observe. Ryan McBride has already talked to us about the aspect of God as accountant that appears in this story, God counts out a great fish to swallow up Jonah/Yonah. Now we see God tally off a plant and finally a worm to Jonah's life or account. Each of God's special “expenditures” has it's place, purpose and effect. Jonah is already upset, angry! The city's people have repented during the two days during which Jonah was hiking through the city after he had preached. The King and all his palace pals, all the merchants, all the pagan religious folks, all the Men, Women, and children, all the poor and beggarly folks, and even all the animals are doing their best to mourn before Jonah's God just on the off chance, God should change His mind!. Jonah sees this, and angrily reacts in Chapter 4. Jonah could see the effect God's word to Ninevah had on the city and so the final conversation begins of this story. He decided to sit and watch to see if God would bring calamity on Ninevah at a safe distance. He is angry and sulking and has taken it personal. Meanwhile God allows a quickly growing plant to rise up to make a pleasant shady spot for Jonah to sit under. And God asks Jonah once, Is it right for you to be so angry? Then God has a pesty worm destroy the plant which gave such lovely shade. Now Jonah is upset about losing the shade. Ryan pointed out Sunday that God was using all of creation to deal with Jonah! God so loved Jonah that He came to the Prophet and nibbled at Jonah's anger like a dog does a bone! He asked him again and again, Are you doing right to be angry? Ryan pointed out that each of us gets distracted from God's Path for us by fostering distractions-like Jonah and his plant or Gourd. The new Jewish Bible likes the idea of a Castor-bean plant because they grow up very quickly and make shade! What is your Gourd? What keeps you from doing what God is asking you to pursue? Finally God confronts our human anger which always can lead us off the path God wants us to pursue. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:20. Once I am angry my thinking processes shut down or can. Some people say you can be angry without sinning. In Jonah, we see that the prophet's anger was not producing what God wanted from him. Basically God can and did work around the prophet's prejudice and vengeance driven anger. Does anger stand in God's way in our lives? In Ninevah God presented a large city full of people God cared about enough to send Jonah there. God even expressed his opinion that we should even care about the animals because even the Jews were told by God in the Torah not to abuse animals-sounds like God cares about his entire creation and wishes none of it to be mindlessly destroyed. P.S. I really liked Ryan and company's theatrics (Rock-Opera?) about Jonah and the whale!