In chapter 4, of the book of Jonah, we see the Prophet Jonah angry, discouraged, feeling beaten down and wondering why God even uses him. In chapter 1 God sent Jonah to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh. Jonah was to rebuke, “to reason together”, to point out the evil ways in which they were behaving. Jonah absolutely had no desire to do what God asked. Why? Jonah knew God would not destroy the City if the people turned from their sin (wicked ways) and began living the life God desired.
Jonah was greatly displeased with God and became angry; angry enough to die. I see a worn out and tired prophet; a prophet who’s tired of the people turning away from God, over and over, and God letting them off the hook, again and again. A prophet who is tired of delivering a message in which God does not follow through; at least from Jonah’s perspective. Jonah’s desire is for God to give the City of Nineveh what they deserve… and in Jonah’s mind that is not one more chance… they’ve had plenty!!!
Jonah’s vision is slightly skewed… Jonah sees himself as a deliverer of God’s warnings against wicked ways. He deliverers the message of destruction, yet, it doesn’t happen. What Jonah doesn’t see is, in actuality, he’s a deliverer of a message which leads to a path of forgiveness and compassion. Jonah does not see clearly his role in the big picture. He does not grasp his importance in God’s plan. Jonah sees himself as a failure time after time; useless and without merit … hence the comment, “O Lord take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” I have no value, no worth, and no real purpose!
Have you ever felt this way? I know I have. God doesn’t whop Jonah up alongside the head. Instead, God grows a vine which provides cool shade and a comfy place for Jonah to rest. For a short while Jonah finds rest and his discomfort is eased. The next day, however, a worm eats the vine and the scorching heat returns along with a hot wind. Jonah once again becomes angry. God asks Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine”? “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” We hear nothing more of Jonah and his journey with God. I suspect Jonah got the message; he understood and continued on in his service to God with a renewed spirit, a new found love and understanding for God’s people.
Jonah did eventually deliver the message, after spending 3 days in the belly of a large fish.(Blog for another time 🙂 ) The people did turn away from their evil ways. God did not destroy the city. Jonah experienced first-hand God’s gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding love; the God who relents from sending calamity. 🙂
Like Jonah, I often get concerned and bothered about things; things which belong in God’s area. God knows what He’s doing. I need to do my part, whether I understand the whys or not. God offers understanding, compassion and grace. God loves His people warts and all. Can I do no less?
Until next time,