|"Jonah didn't want God to forgive"|
Digital Painting - Corel Painter
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, "Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!"He became angry with God. One finger pointing at someone else, three pointing at himself...
4 Then the Lord said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
The Lord questioned him on this. Jonah essentially told God He was wrong. God of the universe, all powerful and mighty. Not such a good idea to tell God He's wrong... God is patient.
5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.It's like he's testing God to see if He will do what Jonah wants or what God wants. He was looking for a lightening bolt to take out the Assyrians.
6 And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
God loved Jonah and thought some shade might help him out. It didn't- that's one stubborn man!
7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered.
So God sent a worm to kill the plant.
8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live."Next came extreme heat and sunlight. Jonah was stubborn, he still didn't give up on his anger. I know how that is holding on to something that makes me mad. I just have to let it go and move on or drown in self-pity. That's too miserable.
9 Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!" 10 But the Lord said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left — and much livestock?"This is an awesome insight into God's heart. He loves all of us even those in nations that are violent. He nurtured them and made them grow. I honestly wanted to write about Jonah because it's a fun story, but this really stood out to me. In this crazy time where nations are fighting against nations. I have to ask myself, "Do I want to see repentance or a lightening bolt?"
It challenges me to think about how I pray, how much compassion do I really have? Jesus spoke of the story of Jonah:
39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed one greater than Jonah is here."Jesus is the Son of God, He is God. Jesus went through far more physical suffering than Jonah. He was whipped with metal spikes, then nailed to a cross. His body was in a tomb for 3 days. Then He was resurrected and ascended to Heaven. Why did He go through all that? Because that's how much God loves us. He became the final sacrifice for our sin. That's how much He longs for us to turn to Him and allow Him to be our Savior. While Jesus hung on the cross in excruciating pain, He forgave a robber who hung next to Him and invited him to Paradise. Because the robber believed.
Matt 12:39-41 NKJV
Even though Jonah was hard-headed, God still loves him. God still offers second chances. That's what repentance is. A chance to turn from bad choices and behavior to seek Jesus as Lord and Savior. When I first became a Christian I had no idea what this meant. I was afraid I would need to wear outdated clothes and poof out my hair. Jesus is more concerned with our hearts than our hair- although He does have compassion for bad hair days. He seeks to change our actions, fears, and anxiety. Faith is reaching past the old things and allowing Jesus to change our lives. It's not a religion. It's a life-changing relationship with God Himself. The more I came to know Him, the more I naturally changed.
As an example, I used to listen to a lot of hard rock as a teenager. After I became a Christian, I realized how depressing it really was. That's one way my heart changed- I started longing for music that encouraged and inspired me instead. My anger and emptiness faded into joy. My first Pastor told me he had never seen such joy. I came from a really rough background. Other people have different experiences.
After reading through this story, I must admit, you gotta love Jonah. One very honest prophet. Someone like us.
Here's a great song by Phil Whickham Safe (link).