Sunday, January 11, 2009


By the time we reach the end of Jonah, Nineveh repents, God relents and Jonah resents! The Bible takes one Hebrew word, that can mean evil, bad, calamity, and uses it for Nineveh's sin, God's threat, and Jonah's opinion of the whole thing. A pieced together Hebrew-to English of Jonah 3:10-4:1, comes out as such:

When God saw their deeds, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the evil that he had spoken to do to them, and he did not do it. This was evil to Jonah, a great evil. It burned to him.

Reading Jonah's prayer we find:

  • A Gracious God angers Jonah
  • A Compassionate God angers Jonah
  • A Slow to Anger God angers Jonah
  • An Abounding in Love God angers Jonah
  • A God Who relents from sending calamity angers Jonah

My first reaction was, what kind of sick individual was Jonah?!? Jonah was so angry, he wanted to die. Elijah had gotten downcast and prayed a similar prayer for the Lord to take his life. Elijah wanted to see revival in Israel and was depressed over the people's sin. But Jonah was brought down over the people's repentance from sin! He sat over in a corner and basically said, "I'll be here with the fire and brimstone if you change your mind, Lord!"

Jonah's attitude is fully reveled and we see that although God manipulates Jonah's circumstances, he leaves Jonah's heart alone. The book of Jonah uses the same word for the storm, the fish, the vine, the worm and the wind. This word means provided, or appointed.

  • The Lord appointed the storm to stop Jonah from going in the wrong direction
  • The Lord appointed the fish to drive Jonah back in the right direction
  • The Lord appointed the vine to show Jonah the same kindness that Nineveh had just received
  • The Lord appointed the worm to make a point
  • The Lord appointed the wind... just to rub it in a little!

God kept nudging Jonah along his plan and purpose. Jonah went, but only because his options were grim! God didn't mess with Jonah's free-will. Jonah could have chosen to go right back in that fish anytime! He obeyed under threat, but didn't seem to have a change of heart.
Why does God have a more difficult time getting one of his own to obey him than 120,000 heathen?

This reminds me of Paul. The fact that Paul was training his body to be a servant of righteousness, reveals his heart. We don't know if Jonah ever had a change of heart, because the book ends abruptly. Where is your heart? Are you serving under the divine whip, or in God's grace?

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
1Corinthians 9:27

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