I couldn’t help spending 4 days with Jonah…but he is so much like us. Because Jonah…like us, wants to put God in a box. Just to catch you up, Jonah walks through Nineveh…which by the way was a 3 days walk, so figure 10-15 miles a day of walking…this is a big place. His skin is probably bleached out due to the chemicals in the fish, and he is screaming out, Nineveh…you have 40 days until God is going to wipe you off of the face of the earth (my paraphrase).
Unlike the USA…people start repenting in droves, and it gets to the king and the ENTIRE NATION repents. Can you imagine what would happen in our country…we would probably blame other people for the impending judgement, try to make some new laws so God can’t do that, and then check Jonah’s Facebook account to see how many “likes” he has….
You see, God wants us to repent. What does that mean? Turn away from what you are doing, not because God is a cosmic killjoy…but because what we are doing is not good. Because God is the only one who truly understand what good means. So what happens in Nineveh?
Jonah 3:10 – When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (NIV)
GOD RELENTED….HE CHANGED HIS MIND!!! WOW…now if that doesn’t blow your mind…I don’t know what will. We have a God who will change His mind if we will change ours. If we will return to him, He will forgive our sins…and not only that, but He will bless us!! And yet, when we explain that to people….they talk about how cruel God is….what fools!
So Jonah, who just helped 120,000 people turn to God and get saved from their sinful life is dancing and praising God??? Nope….he is really mad. In fact, he is so mad that he goes and pouts….like a two year old. I couldn’t take anything from Chapter 4 without missing the impact…so here is the inside of Jonah’s mind…and mine many times.
Jonah 4:1-11 – But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (NIV)
You see…we only look at things from OUR perspective. Jonah just helped save 120,000 people…two football stadiums of people from everlasting torment and separation from God. BUT…we are normally upset when God shows compassion on “somebody else”….because WE want to execute judgement….unless of course WE are in the hot seat.
Now I will admit…it is difficult to understand how God can keep things straight on who does and who does not deserve one more chance. But our job is not to worry about that…but instead to worry about ourselves AND the sphere of influence that He has given us.
So be encouraged…we don’t have to understand why. Isn’t that great…because anytime that God does anything, our answer should be “God”. Followed by these verses…
Isaiah 55:9 – For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. (NASB)
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
Grace and Peace, Dan