Stop and read the object lesson in Jonah chapter 4. It is only eleven quick verses. Jonah begrudgingly preached to the Ninevites. It was clear from the beginning of the book, Jonah did not share God’s compassion for the people of Nineveh. By chapter 4, Jonah is displeased with God’s reaction to the Ninevites’ repentance.
God creates a teachable moment for Jonah by providing him a plant for shelter from the sun and wind. Jonah is pleased with the plant as he waits to see what God will do with the Ninevites. However, God appoints a worm to eat the plant, and Jonah succumbs to despair. He would rather die than endure the sun and scorching wind without the plant.
After setting up the scene, God asks Jonah “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” To which Jonah retorts, “yes.” God reveals Jonah’s heart towards the Ninevites. Jonah cares more about a plant’s life than the life of people. God created both Jonah’s plant and the people of Nineveh, and he ultimately controls their existence. As a follower of God, Jonah should reflect God’s compassion for all people, but his radical and sinful ethnocentrism has been exposed. It is outrageous that Jonah would care more for a plant than human life. Jonah is left to consider his judgement of the Ninevites in context of the death of the plant.
Object lessons are powerful tools to teach. In the past we have posted about different object lessons. In fact check out our posts!
It’s encouraging to see God use of object lessons in scripture. Something resonates with us whenever objects are related to spiritual truths. Object lessons can be particularly useful if a subject is difficult to understand. There are few spiritual truths that kids are too young to understand. Often times it just takes preparation and incorporation of activities or object lessons to teach effectively. God uses an object lesson to teach Jonah about compassion. Challenge yourself to incorporate object lessons in your ministry.