Understanding God’s Love (Jonah 4)




Chapter 4 begins with Jonah’s angry response to God for the mercy shown to Nineveh. He knows God is gracious and loving, but doesn’t enjoy seeing such love extended to his enemies. In fact, Jonah is so bothered by God’s love toward Nineveh that he asks God to take his life. But God, still pursuing Jonah, teaches Jonah a lesson about his love. Does Jonah see his pride and embrace God’s love? Or does he continue in self-centeredness? The book of Jonah ends without revealing Jonah’s response, and in doing so invites the reader to ask, “How will you respond?” In a way, the purpose of the entire book of Jonah comes to a head in chapter 4. Mark Futato writes:

The primary purpose of the book of Jonah is to engage readers in theological reflection on the compassionate character of God, and in self-reflection on the degree to which their own character reflects this compassion, to the end that they become vehicles of this compassion in the world that God has made and so deeply cares about.


  1. HEAD: Questions aimed at our minds to help us understand God’s word.

    • Jonah is clearly angry over the mercy God shows to Nineveh. The footnote in the ESV explains how Jonah considered God’s relenting “exceedingly evil.” Why is Jonah so angry?

    • Chapter 4 gives yet another example of God’s sovereignty over creation (v.6-8). What does God’s sovereignty in the book of Jonah tell us about God’s character?

  2. HEART: Questions aimed at our affections to help us love God.

    • Read Genesis 18:16-33 and compare Abraham to Jonah. In both situations a wicked city is about to receive judgment, but Jonah and Abraham response very differently. What are the differences? What do these responses reveal about the hearts of each man?

    • In what ways are we like Jonah here, enjoying God’s love and mercy for ourselves, but refusing to extend it to others? See The Parable of The Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 for another example.

  3. HANDS: Questions aimed at our hands to help us live for God (Personally, Communally, and Missionally).

    • Jonah was far more concerned with himself than with the needs of those far from God. In what ways can Christians today lose sight of our mission to bring the gospel to others in favor of self-centered pursuits? How can you guard against this as a Gospel Community?

    • What are some specific ways you and your Gospel Community can reach out to those far from God with the Gospel? Spend some time in prayer over this, asking God to cultivate a Christ-like heart of love and compassion. Then lay out some practical “Next Steps.”


  • From The Sermon: Diagnostic Questions for Identifying Idolatry

    • What are you most terrified of losing?

    • What do you obsess about obtaining?

    • What drives you?

    • What is the one thing you could not imagine being happy without

    • What’s the one thing that without it — life would not be worth living?

  • Jonah’s Anger

  • Should I Not Pity That Great City… Minneapolis? (or Waltham? or Greater Boston?)