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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6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 40:6–14.
Job 29:21-25 21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.