The Poison of a Man’s Anger

The Hard Lessons on Allowing God to Be Gracious – Part 1

Jonah Chapter 4

Nov 22, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Matthew 12:40,41)


A.    Throughout this little book, we have seen God’s Grace At Work


1.      Using Jonah’s rebellion as a means to save a ship of pagan sailors

2.      Keeping Jonah alive in the belly of a whale for 3 days and 3 nights

3.      Calling Jonah to do an impossible task – preach and warn and turn the Ninevites from sin

4.      All because God CARED about the enemies of Israel – enough to warn them, wake them up to the coming righteous wrath and judgment of God, and save them


B.     We have watched as Nineveh experienced the greatest miracle!


1.      Of grown men and women, rich and poor, coming down off their high horses of pride and rebellion, and repenting of their wicked lives

2.      And then of GOD Himself repenting of the judgment that He was about to pour out on that city just like He did on Sodom and Gomorrah

3.      And forgiving them of all their evil!


C.    We have learned that Only Humble Repentance Unlocks Such Grace!


1.      Not religious acts, and duties – not good and pious efforts to please God

2.      Not money, or charities

3.      Not wisdom or intellect

4.      Just brokenness and sorrow for how sinful we all are before God


D.    We have learned that True Repentance, that completely trusts God, Saves!

E.     But there is a warning to OUR generation… Matt 12:41 


1.      The Ninevites will rise in judgment against us, for "they believed God" and "repented at the preaching of Jonah."

2.      And so many today won’t or haven’t!


F.     But we are not finished. There is one last chapter. And we will have to split it in two:


1.      Today… The Poison of Anger

2.      Next week – Escaping the Trap of Anger


II.    Background (Jonah 4:1)


A.    The fourth chapter of the little Book of Jonah is amazing!

B.     It contains the word "angry" four times! In just eleven verses!  And it is all coming from the prophet Jonah! Jonah is one angry Preacher!

C.     His anger has poisoned his testimony, hurt his reputation, and ultimately ruins his ability to do anything more for God! Because it blinds him to the grace and the kindness of God!

D.    Anger will blind you too, unless you learn how to deal with it


III. Message


A.    Jonah is Furious (Jonah 4:1) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.


1.      Jonah finished his preaching


a.       Jonah has walked throughout the entire city of Nineveh

b.      Preaching his harsh message of warning and coming wrath

c.       Jonah had proclaimed "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." That was the totality of his Sermon! One Message! Repeated across the whole vast metropolis!


2.      And now that he is finished, and leaving the city, he is angry – furious!


a.       He is storming out of the city! He is so angry he is shaking!

b.      Jonah should have been pleased at the success of his ministry

c.       Nothing grieves a pastor more than the hardness of men's hearts, and the failure of their labours; and nothing rejoices us more than the conversion of sinners by straight preaching, and clear repentance!

d.      Jesus said, There is joy in heaven even over one sinner repenting …

e.       Yet Jonah is DISPLEASED at the repentance of the Ninevites through his preaching, and at the mercy of God being showed unto them


3.      What displeased Jonah?


a.       That he had been MADE to do the right thing.


1)      He had been made to go to his nation’s enemies - the Ninevites

2)      And he had been made to offer them a chance for to get forgiven and not judged!

3)      Nobody likes to be made to do anything

4)      But with God, He often not only tells us what is the right thing to do, He puts pressure on us to DO the right thing!

5)      And that’s not a bad thing!


b.      That these ungodly, pagan, hateful people, and even their wicked king actually had acted on the mercy and grace God had offered them, and had received the gift of God’s mercy!

c.       And all that made Jonah VERY angry

d.      You probably believe you would have easily done such a thing – that is until it is YOUR enemy that you are having to be kind and merciful to!


4.      But all that wasn’t the real reason for Jonah’s anger!


B.     He is Angry at God (Jonah 4:2)


1.      ‘God’ has upset Jonah! (He seems to upset a LOT of people)


a.       God has forgiven a whole city, Nineveh the Capital of Assyria, of their sins! Wonderful Revival has come. One that lasted over 150 years too! The greatest Revival in the whole Old Testament!

b.      The only problem was Jonah did not want these ungodly people spared from judgment!

c.       Wow! Think about it!


2.      Jonah gives out to God - Why?


a.       Jonah said, This is just what I knew would happen!


1)      I knew it over 50 days ago (almost 2 months ago when you asked me the first time!

2)      THIS is the reason why I fled from you to go to Tarshish

3)      THIS is why I did not want to go to Nineveh in the first place!


b.      Because I know you


1)      I know that you are gracious, and merciful

2)      Slow to anger

3)      You have such great kindness

4)      And that you enjoy changing your mind about judgment and condemnation!


c.       And it is because of YOU God that Nineveh won’t now be destroyed!


1)      They have responded to God's Word!

2)      They have repented!

3)      They have turned from their wicked ways!

4)      And You God have seen their hearts!

5)      You have forgiven them all their sins!

6)      Your Grace has prevailed!

7)      Your wrath has now been turned away!

8)      The Ninevite nation was safe!

9)      In fact, it would continue for another 150 years, until the days of Nahum the Prophet!

10)  And such a scene upset Jonah! He was angered deeply!


d.      And I don’t like that about you!


3.      Grace had interfered with his Ministry! I don't like THIS kind of grace!


1)      People choosing to Repent of their wrong attitudes, had ruined HIS attitude!

2)      God was blessing when He was supposed to be cursing!

3)      Jonah had placed his own feelings above the very lives and welfare of tens of thousands of souls!

4)      That's WHY he was angry!

5)      Such attitudes characterize our anger today too!


4.      So, I don’t want to follow you anymore – I want to follow and obey a different kind of a God – one that destroys my enemies, and hates who I hate!

5.      Wow! How could a real Man of God like Jonah react to anything in such an out-of-control way? And yet, Jonah is not the exception to the rule!


C.     Jonah Still Wants to Quit (Jonah 4:3)


1.      Tried to quit when he fled on that boat for Tarshish, and still wants to quit!

2.      Hated the Ninevites… (his sworn enemies)

3.      Upset at God

4.      Hated his own life!

5.      Wanted to just die! “I am asking you God to just kill me”


a.       I can’t stand to live knowing that my enemies will be allowed to live and will not condemned for all the wrongs they have done!

b.      It would be better for to die than to live any longer

c.       REALLY? Yep! Really!

d.      To Jonah, his life was over. He could never go home.

e.       His people, the Jews would never forgive him for being the man who went and showed such wicked people how to be saved!


D.    God’s One Question (Jonah 4:4)


1.      Now, When God asks a question, you better think long and hard about the answer!

2.      Because God does not ask anyone questions in order to discover the answer! He already knows the answer. He is asking because we NEED to know the answer!


a.       Adam where are you?

b.      Moses, what is that in your hand? and Who has made your mouth?

c.       Balaam, what men are these with you?

d.      Peter, do you love me?


3.      So, God asked Jonah a simple question…


a.       Does it help you to be angry?

b.      Is anger good for you?

c.       Is it good at all that you are so angry?

d.      Is it even right that you are angry?

e.       You want ME to be angry - but when I am not, YOU want to take over huh?


4.      Those are VERY good questions that you and I need answers to!


IV. Application


A.    Is Our Anger Really That Bad?


1.      Let's let the Bible tell us:


a.       Eccl 7:9. "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools."


1)      Think about it! That says it all!

2)      Jonah is upset both at the beginning and at the end of the Book!

3)      He is not acting like a believer – in his anger, he is acting like a fool!


b.      James 1:19,20 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

c.       Proverbs 22:24-25, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."


2.      Jonah was wrong to be angry – both at God and at the Ninevites when they repented


a.       It is only right to be angry at sins, but not people


1)      For if we are angry, not with men but with the sins of men, and if we hate and persecute, not men, but the vices of men, they we are rightly angry, our zeal is good.

2)      But if we are angry, not with sins but with men, if we hate, not vices but men, then our anger is wrong, and our zeal is bad.


b.      Thirty seconds of genuine repenting would have restored the fellowship between Jonah and God. But Jonah's stubbornness and pride prevailed.


3.      What about you, dear friend?


a.       Has your temper robbed you of the grace of God?

b.      Are you bitter at God because He did not obey YOUR will?

c.       Are you wrapped up in the "little things" of life, maybe not worms and gourds and the weather, but little nonetheless?

d.      Have you today missed the vast scope of the Grace of God? That it is intended for more than just you and the people you love???

e.       Have I missed the purpose of the grace of God? (Luke 5:32)!


B.     I know some of you will say “anger is not always wrong!"


1.      You are correct!

2.      We need to be angry at the Devil!

3.      And at sin around us!

4.      The apostle Paul wrote, "Be ye angry, and sin not." Ephesians 4:26

5.      And HERE is a good use for anger Proverbs 25:23. "The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue." The next time a gossip or a person with critical spirit comes around, spreading his garbage… Look him right in the eyes! With no smiles and no nods and no encouragement! Look angry! He will not tarry long! Your angry countenance will drive him away! He will sense that you do not want to hear his slander!

6.      Mark 3:5 tells us of our Lord, perfect and sinless, "And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other." There's an example of righteous indignation, anger without a taint of sin!


C.    But still, in the vast majority of Bible references to anger, it is condemned or belittled or discouraged. Often outright forbidden!

D.    I pray the Holy Spirit of God will "attach" some of these verses to our hearts! If so, anger will  have a more difficult time rooting itself into our lives!


1.      "Wise men turn away wrath." Proverbs 29:8 alone should do the job!

2.      Proverbs 15:1 adds a little practical advice. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."

3.      Learn this phrase, "slow to anger!" It's from Proverbs 15:18. "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife."

4.      Look at this one. "An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression." Proverbs 29:22

5.      And here's a comparable verse, too good to omit. Proverbs 16:32 declares, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

6.      Even women can have a temper (Prov 21:19; 23:24) Don’t think only men have a problem with anger!!!


a.       "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman." Proverbs 21:19 presents quite a choice, doesn't it?

b.      Again, "It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house." Proverbs 23:24


7.      So, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. " Ephesians 4:31,32


V.    Conclusion (Luke 5:29-32)


A.    Jonah was Furious – Have you ever been that way?

B.     He is Angry at God


1.      Didn’t like God being nice to his enemies – to someone who didn't deserve it - wanted justice, wrath, disaster on them, not an opportunity for them to repent, and be forgiven!!!

2.      Has God made you angry – boxing you in, trying to change you and make a better man or woman out of you?


C.     Jonah Wanted to Quit on God – like a lot of folks I know. God doesn’t do things THEIR way, so they literally jump ship, and fall off the map, and get into some serious trouble!

D.    God’s Question Applies to All of us… Doest thou well to be angry?


1.      Wouldn’t it be MUCH better to repent ourselves of our OWN sinful attitude towards our problems, and the will of God?

2.      Wouldn’t it be much better to rejoice at God’s kindness being offered to wicked people, instead of just His wrath?

3.      Aren’t we just poisoning ourselves when we stay angry? Our Christian testimony, our reputation, our ability to do anything more for God! Have we become blind to the grace and the kindness of God?

4.      Anger will blind you, unless you learn how to deal with it


E.     Jesus died on the cross under the righteous wrath and anger of God at your and my sin – so we don’t need to be angry anymore!

F.      The only way to be spared the righteous wrath of God is by humble, sorrowful repentance towards God (2Peter 2:9) and child-like faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ!

G.    Are you finally willing to own up to YOUR wicked lifestyle, and your anger and be saved?