In this fourth chapter of the Book of Jonah, (Jonah 4), the prophet Jonah has a strange reaction to his success. He's angry, and sulky. He thinks he knows better than God does. What is this story about?
Rev. George McCurdy, in his exegesis of this chapter, offers a summary in his Study Guide for the Book of Jonah, which is available for free as a .pdf, for your use. Below, we've excerpted part of his summary, and edited it for use in this context.
The people of the Jewish church in Jonah's time didn't want to reconsider their belief in their "most-favored-nation status." They challenged the Lord. They couldn't understand why He wanted to save their enemies in Nineveh.
Despite the hard lessons in chapters 1 and 2, and his success as described in chapter 3, Jonah still thought he knew better than the Lord. He thought that God was being too soft and loving -- too forgiving -- and that He needed to come around to Jonah’s tougher view.
Jonah got so angry and vengeful that he preferred to die rather than approve of the Lord’s way to save the Ninevites. His self-love wanted shade -- protection for its concepts. The Lord needed to bring such thinking to an end; the worm brought about death to the gourd from within. The Lord then sent a vehement east wind, that represents a blowing away of the stagnant thinking of the church.
The Lord's heavenly sun shone upon Jonah, but he felt faint. Here, Jonah's insistence on his own troubling view of things made him uncomfortable with the Lord’s view. The Divine guidance offered him a way to learn to enjoy the success of his neighbors as his own, but he wouldn't take it.
For us, then -- what? This story is telling us that we can't just keep the truths of the Word for ourselves; we have to go to Nineveh and share them. And then, if people start to hear them, and use them to turn their lives around, we can't allow ourselves to get resentful that the Lord accepts their repentance and forgives them. It's a very human reaction; think of the disciples vying to be first in the Lord's command structure (Luke 9:46), or the brother of the prodigal son (Luke 15:28-29), or the workers in the vineyard who had worked all day for a denarius (Matthew 20:10-12). But... it's not a good reaction. The Lord doesn't admire it in Jonah, and doesn't admire it when it crops up in our minds, either.
Rev. Martin Pennington recommends several explanatory passages from Swedenborg's theological writings:
Jonah Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities. Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10
Jonah and the Gourd A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults. Teaching Support | Ages over 3
226. (i) THE WORD IS NOT TO BE UNDERSTOOD WITHOUT DOCTRINE.
This is because the Word in its literal sense is composed of nothing but correspondences, in order that it should simultaneously hold spiritual and celestial meanings; and every single word is a container and support for these. That is why in the literal sense the Divine truths are rarely uncovered, but are clothed. They are then called appearances of truth, and in many cases are made suitable to be understood by the simple, who do not lift their gaze above what is in front of their eyes. Some appear to be contradictions, when in fact there is no contradiction, if the Word is looked at by its own spiritual light. Moreover in some passages of the Prophets there are collections of place-names and personal names, from which no sort of sense can be extracted. Seeing that the Word is like this in its literal sense, it can easily be established that it could not be understood without doctrine.
The Word is not to be understood without doctrine. Doctrine is to be drawn from the literal sense of the Word. But Divine truth, on which doctrine is based, is not visible to any but those who are enlightened by the Lord.
 But let us take examples to illustrate this. It is said that Jehovah regrets (Exodus 32:12, 14; Jonah 3:9; 4:2); and also that Jehovah does not regret (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). These statements cannot be reconciled without doctrine. It is said that Jehovah visits the wickedness of the fathers upon the sons, to the third or fourth generation (Numbers 14:18); and also that a father shall not die on account of his son, nor a son on account of his father, but each in his own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16). Doctrine can show that these statements do not conflict, but are in harmony.
 Jesus says:
Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find. To him that knocks, the door shall be opened, Matthew 7:7-8; 21:21-22.
Without doctrine one might believe that each will receive what he asks for; but we know from doctrine that whatever a person asks from the Lord, that is granted. For this too is what the Lord teaches:
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be done for you, John 15:7.
 The Lord says:
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God, Luke 6:20.
Without doctrine one might think that heaven was for the poor and not the rich; but doctrine instructs us that the poor in spirit are meant, for the Lord says:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens, Matthew 5:3.
 The Lord says further:
Do not judge, so that you are not judged; with whatever judgment you judge, so will you be judged, Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37.
Without doctrine anyone could be induced to assert that we must not judge wicked people to be wicked; but doctrine tells us we may judge, so long as we do so justly. For the Lord says:
Do not have yourselves called teacher, for you have one teacher, Christ. Do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one father in the heavens. And do not have yourselves called master, for you have one master, Christ, Matthew 23:8-10.
Without doctrine this would mean that we are not to call anyone teacher, father or master; but doctrine tells us that we may do so in the natural sense, but not in the spiritual.
 Jesus said to the disciples:
When the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you too will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Matthew 19:28.
One might infer from these words that the Lord's disciples too are to act as judges, though in fact they can judge no one. Doctrine therefore will reveal the mystery by the fact that the Lord alone, who is omniscient, and knows the hearts of all, can and will be judge. His twelve disciples mean the church in respect of all its truths and all its kinds of good, which are given to it by the Lord by means of the Word. Doctrine infers from this that it is the truths and kinds of good which will judge everyone, as the Lord said in John (John 3:17-18; 12:47-48). There are many more passages like this in the Word, which show plainly that the Word cannot be understood without doctrine.
Verses 1-2. That when conjunction of good and of truth is effected, it is allowed man to appropriate every good, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary in the representative Church.
Verses 3-5. Since the Lord, by coming into the world, and uniting his Human principle to the Divine, abolished the Sabbath as to representative worship, and made Himself the True Sabbath.
Verses 6-11. And thus restores the truth of the Church to conjunction with its good, from which it had been separated, since this was the great end of his coming into the world, and making his Human principle Divine.
Verse 11. Nevertheless this doctrine excites abhorrence and hatred against Him in the representative Church.
Verse 12. Which abhorrence and hatred become instrumental in leading the Lord's Human principle to a more intimate union with the Divine.
Verse 13. So that by the light derived from this union he is enabled to discriminate all the goods and truths constituent of the Church, and to conjoin them to himself.
Verses 14-17. Which goods and truths are enumerated.
Verses 17-20. Therefore all, who are desirous of spiritual instruction, and to be delivered from false and evil principles, seek communication and conjunction of life with the Lord, and find it.
Verse 20. Being instructed, that all have such communication and conjunction, who from the heart acknowledge that no one knows, understands, and is wise of himself, but from the Lord, since in this acknowledgement there is internal truth and good.
Verse 21. And being further instructed, that, all are gifted with heavenly good, who in heart desire it, and that all are gifted with heavenly truth, who feel the want of it.
Verses 22-23. And that all goods and truths are more closely conjoined with the Lord, and more fully confirmed, in states of opposition from infernal men and infernal spirits, than at any other time, and that this has been the case from the beginning.
Verses 24-25. Yet that truth of itself, without good, separates itself from the Lord, as also does good without truth, and as likewise does the affection of truth, unless the affection of good be in it.
Verse 26. Since the affection of truth may be excited by worldly considerations of fame and glory, as was the case with teachers of old.
Verses 27-28. Whereas the affection of good is kind and well-disposed towards all, doing good to, instructing, and interceding for all.
Verses 27-29. Also being patient, and contented as far as possible, under the assault of evil, whether the assault be against good, or against truth.
Verses 30-31. And imparting both good and truth to all who are in the affection of those principles, content, for the sake of others, to be deprived of its own, and showing kindness to others in the same degree that it expects to receive, kindness from others.
Verses 32-34. Since true charity does not consist in natural affection, but in spiritual, and thence in natural.
Verses 35-36. Good therefore ought to be done without a view to recompense, because it brings along with it its own reward, by restoring in man the Divine image and likeness.
Verses 37-38. So that he will never think ill of what is good and true, but will live in the exercise of charity, from a conviction, that in proportion as he does good to others, he will receive a more abundant measure of the love of good from the Lord.
Verse 39. Neither will he attempt to instruct others, until he himself is instructed in the truth, lest he should lead both himself and others into what is false.
Verses 39-40. But will rather submit himself to the guidance of the Divine Truth.
Verses 41-42. Not looking at the intellectual errors of another, but at the evils which pervert his own understanding, since it is impossible to correct another's intellectual errors, until a man's own understanding be separated from evil, and therefore every one ought first to remove evil from his own love and life, that he may be in a state to remove error from the understanding of another;
Verses 43-44. For the good of love produces good of life, as evil love produces evil of life, therefore every one's quality may be known from his life, since no good, either external or internal, can be derived from falsities and evils.
Verse 45. The true character of every one is thus determined by his will, since if the will be principled in the love of truth, the good of life will be thence derived, whereas if the will be principled in the love of what is false, it will then give birth to evil of life.
Verse 46. That consequently external worship is of no avail, unless it proceed from obedience of life.
Verses 47-48. Which obedience consists in the acknowledgement of the Lord's divine Humanity, and in a right understanding and practice of His precepts, by virtue whereof the true believer acquires a knowledge of the Interior truths of the Word, and conjoins them with the divine truth, and thus in preserved in all states of spiritual temptation.
Verse 49. Whereas he, who is only in the intelligence of truth, and not in the good of love and charity, fails in temptation, and perishes by grievous falsities.
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