Angry Enough to Die – Gospel in Life

Angry Enough to Die

Tim Keller |  September 9, 1990

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  • Idolatry
Jonah 4:1-10
RS 10-8


Jonah went into a big city like New York, and he saw a massive change. He saw repentance that was culturally transforming. The people turned from their violence and evil ways. In response to this amazing thing, we’re told, “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.” What’s going on here?

How can we explain Jonah’s mood swings, his tremendous emotional instability, able to praise God in chapter 2 and a few days later saying, “I am angry enough to die?”
The answer is a divided heart. Jonah believed in and served the true God, but he also believed and served a rival god. As a result, his heart was divided between worshipping two different things.

Hearts divided between more than one god creates that kind of instability we see in Jonah. They create the kind of misery and drivenness of Jonah. And what we see is that it could be true of us as well. Now let’s just ask two questions of the passage: 1) What’s a divided heart? 2) How can we heal a divided heart?

Jonah 4:1–11

Jonah 4 tells us about a great spiritual awakening in Nineveh. But instead of being happy about it, Jonah is upset and angry. This shows us that Jonah has a “divided heart” – he’s trying to serve God, but he’s also serving something else, a “rival god”. It makes us wonder, could our own struggles and discomforts be because we too have divided hearts?

1. What does it mean to have a divided heart?

The story of Jonah tells us what a divided heart looks like. It shows us that Jonah was prejudiced against the people of Nineveh and he had a hard time accepting God’s grace. It also shows us how Jonah was too attached to the things of this world instead of focusing on God. The story warns us about the dangers of idolatry and reminds us that only Jesus can truly fulfill our deepest desires.

2. How can we fix a divided heart?

Jonah’s divided heart is a result of trying to serve two gods at the same time. To fix this, we need to understand and accept God’s radical grace and love. We need to stop looking for approval from other people and instead find our worth in Jesus. This doesn’t mean we need to be perfect or have all the right motives, but we need to stop relying on ourselves and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice to forgive us. Sometimes, God might take away some comforts from us to show us who we’re really relying on.



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