On the forty-first day after Jonah made his proclamation to the king of the Assyrians in the capital of Nineveh Jonah sent up a prayer. “Isn’t this what I said wouldn’t happen, God? I knew You were compassionate and gracious. You hate to bring calamity on those who repent. Now the Assyrians are still in power because You won’t bring the judgement on them they deserve. This is exactly why I hopped a boat for Tarshish to begin with. Just let me die right here and now.”
Jonah heard God’s response. “Do you have a right to be angry?”
He marched east of the city, made a crude shelter and sat down. He stared at Nineveh just in case God relented about His relenting and destroyed it after all. A plant grew rapidly over our reluctant evangelist and brought great relief from the sun’s glare.
As the sun set over the great city Jonah drifted off to sleep. As the sun rose the next morning Jonah smiled at the plant God grew for him. He kept up his vigil to see Nineveh destroyed once and for all.
The wind became hot on his back as the sun scorched his head. The plant wilted before it gave the anticipated shaded relief from it’s leaves.
Jonah griped another prayer. “Just let me die and get it over with. Why drag it out like this?”
God’s voice was loud and clear. “Do you have a right to be mad at the plant?”
Jonah spit. “I do. I’m mad enough to die.”
God spoke once more. “You’re more concerned over that plant that you had no control over than you are about the 120,000 folks in Nineveh. Why wouldn’t I have compassion on so many people?”
So ends the saga of the soggy, sagging, pitiful prophet of God.
Which brings me back to my original question: was Jonah hard of hearing or hard of loving?
I would venture to guess he was hard of loving. These Assyrians had a history of being the meanest, nastiest, foulest folks on the face of the earth. Who wouldn’t want to see them get what they deserved? And, who would want to see them live to see another day during their lifetime?
Jonah’s hatred for these people was so strong he didn’t want to carry out God’s plan of redemption even after he carried it out.
So how did God respond to His chosen vessel? The same way He did with Job–with questions. The questions boil down to the same basic one: “Which one of us is God in this situation?”
I pose a couple of questions for us.
Is there a person, or people group, you’d rather see wiped off the face of the earth than reach with the gospel message?
Is there a situation you’re mad about how God is handling it?
Take some serious introspection time to delve into your answers before you do answer them. You may be surprised at your responses.
After you’ve faced your demons ask yourself: “Who is God in this circumstance?”
Trust Him to do what’s best. He IS in control.
Keep smiling. Wade