Daily D – Jonah 4:2-3
So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” JONAH 4:2-3 (NLT)
Jonah wanted artillery. God wanted a fireworks display. Jonah wanted flames of fiery fury. God wanted warm hearts and hearths. Jonah was a racist. God loves everyone.
To Jonah’s utter dismay, God loved Israel’s enemy. How could God love the very nation seeking to destroy the people of God? How could anyone love cops and Black Lives Matter at the same time? Pick a side, God!
Jonah wanted judgment. God wanted repentance. Jonah wanted hellfire and brimstone. God wanted grace and mercy.
Jonah wanted judgment on his adversaries. He did not want them to enjoy the benefits he experienced for himself. He deliberately and disobediently sailed one way when God told him to go the other way. God in his mercy sent a violent storm. Jonah took a long nap. The pagan sailors behaved more godly than Jonah did. His solution was simple. When they asked him to pray, he had a different idea. “Throw me in. Life’s not worth living if I have to love those people.”
Again, the pagans prayed when Jonah refused: “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”
Jonah hated Nineveh. Jonah didn’t care to talk about matters of faith with the sailors. He would rather die than love everyone enough to give them the good news of God’s mercy and love. So, into the water he went. God in his mercy provided a great fish to swallow him and to take him back where he got off the path.
Even in the belly of the beast, when he did pray and thanked God for saving him, he still harbored hate in his heart for people like the Ninevites and sailors. Listen to v. 8: “Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies.” This was true. The rest of the truth is that God wants those who worship false gods to come to him, the one true God, and experience his mercy.
Jonah was belched back on the right path. He still harbored the wrong attitude. He still hated that place and those people. He enjoyed his message a little too much: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” (3:4). He spoke the truth, but not in love. Then the unthinkable happened.
The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.
Jonah did the right thing the wrong way and everyone changed except him.
The bottom line of the story, the last three verses of the book, is perfectly relevant to us today in our season of pandemic, protest, and politics.
Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die.”
Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
God loves cops and Black Lives Matter.
God loves Democrats and Republicans.
God loves everyone and so should we.
I will seek God’s mercy and grace for all people everywhere, including those I don’t particularly like.
Our Father, pride and prejudice run deep. Please root them out and replace them with your grace and mercy for all people. Deliver us from racism and all of its complications. Amen.
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John 19:11 “You would have no authority over me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (CSB)
John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (CSB)