Like Jonah

Most of us know the story of Jonah and the whale.  When God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to deliver God’s message that they must repent, Jonah rebelled and ran.  He jumped on a ship to head a different direction, and a storm came up that put the ship in danger.  The ship determined that the storm was due to Jonah, and Jonah told them to throw him overboard.  He was swallowed up by a big fish and vomited up on dry land 3 days later, after Jonah prayed for repentance.

But the story doesn’t end there. 

In fact, the rest of the story is where many of us are just like Jonah.

After repenting, Jonah obeyed God and went through Nineveh preaching God’s mandate of redemption.  God had revealed to Jonah that if Nineveh did not repent, they would be destroyed in 40 days.

Hearing God’s message from Jonah, Nineveh repented, so God did not destroy them.

Which really irritated Jonah.

Nineveh was an enemy of Israel, and Jonah wanted to see them perish.

But God is a loving God, and since the people of Nineveh humbled themselves before God and repented, they were spared.

Jonah then pouted.

He questioned God, wondering why such evil people would be spared.

He wanted to see them punished.

God then taught Jonah a lesson through a vine that provided shade (which Jonah welcomed) and then a worm that ate the vine (which Jonah mourned).

Jonah mourned the vine, but had no sense of compassion for the people of Nineveh.

I’ve been guilty of the very same thing, despising those who need to see and directly feel God’s love and hoping that they be punished, not even considering them to be God’s children and equally as deserving of God’s grace and full redemption (or equally undeserving, which is really the case).

Imagine if all God’s children spent all of their time spreading God’s love and His desire of salvation through repentance, even to those who they felt deserved punishment rather than redemption. 

Imagine if all those who heard in turn responded and repented, and both those we love and those we struggle with all join together in eternal celebration in the end.

God showed Jonah through is actions that His mercy and His offer of salvation even extends to those who are our enemies if they repent and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Jonah obviously was frustrated with that.

I bet that each of us at times may be that way too.

So let’s quickly recap:

  • Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and tell them they would perish if they did not repent
  • Jonah ran
  • Jonah was swallowed by a whale
  • Jonah repent, and the whale upchucked him on a beach
  • Jonah delivered God’s message to Nineveh
  • Nineveh repented
  • God spared Nineveh
  • Jonah pouted
  • God used the vine to teach Jonah a lesson

Are you like Jonah too at times?

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