Reading through my devotions this morning I came across somethings in the story of Jonah that struck me as strange. Most of us would know the story of Jonah and his call to preach to the Ninevites, his attempts to escape from God, his being thrown overboard and being eaten by a big fish and eventually preaching to the King of Nineveh who changed a society. What really struck me was that almost 3/4 of the story is over and done with in the first 8 verses, the rest of the 4 chapters of the story is about a faithful servant wrestling with his own identity in God and desires to ‘let them burn’.
The first point of interest for me was in Verse 9, where we have Jonah, who has just run, boarded a ship to the furthest part of the world to flee from God, then turns around and say ‘I am a Hebrew and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land’, certainly doesn’t look like he belongs to God. As if that were not enough to show the man’s repentance he says to the sailors he is with, ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea and it will become calm. I know it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’ How about a simple, ‘ Sorry, my bad, can you take me back now’. Turns out they couldn’t have taken him back even if he had paid them 1000 times his original fee, but how insane is this Jonah guy, does he love God or doesn’t he, he wants his own path but 9 verses later hands himself over to death. That’s repentance right there.
The second part that gets me (apart from the fact that a giant fish swollowed him whole and took him back to the place God had sent him in the first place, talk about vein punished for choosing the wrong path) is in Chapter 4. Jonah has been to the King, the king has acted appropriately led his people to the Lord and the Lord has turned his wrath away from them,but Jonah is ‘angry.’ Jonah has just saved an entire kingdom and he is angry at the Lord because he didn’t ‘toast them’.
He says it himself, ‘I knew you were gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.’ I’m pretty sure that he just used up all of those gifts from God to keep himself alive after his disobedience, yet he is angry that God didn’t kill all of them because of their disobedience.
It’s the ‘Selected Amnesia’ I spoke about on Sunday, we chose to forget the times he has poured out his compassion on us, forgiving us of far worse, yet we get angry because he has compassion on others that do the same (usually less terrible) things than us.
It is hard, do we want to see people saved or are we happy as a club who’s members are in and no one else can join because we won’t forgive and they are still flawed.
God throws it out there to Jonah (and to us) ‘is it right for you to be angry?’, the answer is No, God has a right to be angry, but he’s not, he has love, grace and compassion for us. So if your tired of waiting on God for your friend, family member, spouse/partner/girlfriend/boyfriend to be saved and accepted into the God’s family, just make sure you are ready to be accepting of all people and completely forgive them when he does make that breakthrough, because it may be that God is actually just waiting for you to be ready to accurately represent him to others and to not be a ‘sooky la la’ when they don’t get smoked, before he will give you the person you are praying for.
Just a Thought.