Jonah is a prophet we can identify with. Elijah hardly seems like a man, living in a cave and being fed by birds. Moses used a stick to bring water from a rock. Even John could have been better dressed if he had gone to a thrift store. But, none of that for Jonah. He did it his way, even choosing to be grumpy, thank you.
Jonah told God, “No, I don’t want to go. My life here is comfortable and who cares about Nineveh?” He dragged his feet all the way and reluctantly delivered the message, possibly adding, “That’s what God says. I personally don’t care if you repent or not. In fact, since I’ve traveled so far, I’d just as soon see a fireworks display.”
It did not happen, of course, because God is the God of Mercy.
There was Jonah sitting outside the city walls, waiting for the big show. 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
Jonah was mad. “God, you dragged me all this way, and then you changed your mind? Why? I thought you were going to punish them. I would rather be dead than have this happen.”
God asked The Question, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
How often we humans are angry when things don’t go our way. Jonah preached God’s message of repentance, but when they did repent, he was angry with God. He sat outside the city and pouted.
God gave him an object lesson with the shade plant. The plant was obviously a gift from God since it grew to shade height in a couple of hours, and Jonah was happy. But the next day the plant died, and Jonah became angry again.
Jonah took pleasure in himself, not in God. He could not accept that God did not kill the evil people. He asked God to kill him rather than force him to live with the evil ones.
We American Christians have our lists of evil ones. Islāmic terrorists. Politicians of the ‘other’ party. LGBT. Anyone who disagrees with my understanding of Scripture.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus blessed ‘those’ people, forgave them, healed them, fed them, even went to their houses to eat.
With Jonah, we must be able to say, I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love. NIV
I am glad I am alive to know your love.
Read my comments on these NT readings here.
Be righteous and do good.