Tuesday 07 July 2015

Bible Book:

“But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry.” (v. 1)

Jonah 3:10 – 4:11 Tuesday 7 July 2015

Psalm: Psalm 37:12-29


Jonah is hardly the sort of character one warms to!

Having finally obeyed God's command to go to Nineveh and warnthe city of God's impending judgement on it, we might expect him tobe elated at the response he provoked. After all, despite preachingone of the briefest sermons on record (Jonah3:4), and doing it half-heartedly, his hearers all reactedimmediately, repenting and turning to God in droves. Through thewitness of just one man one of the largest cities in the world hadbeen converted overnight.

Yet far from being grateful to God for God's mercy toward thecity, or even being tempted to indulge in a bit of misplaced pridein his own success as an evangelist, Jonah got angry and suicidal!He even tried to justify his original decision not to go to Ninevehon the grounds that he knew God always intended to let those wickedpeople off the hook anyway (verse 2).

There are many things we could say about Jonah's behaviour, onebeing its comical lack of perspective. When God provided him withsome shade, he is described as "happy" (v. 6), something he neverfelt about the salvation of a whole city. Yet when God took awaythe shade (verse 7) Jonah got suicidal again, prompting God topoint out that his priorities might be slightly skewed.

Even more worrying is Jonah's resentment toward God for beinggracious to the inhabitants of Nineveh, when he himself had beenrescued by the same God from a watery grave! His attitude to Godwhen he finds himself in the belly of the fish (described inchapter 2) could hardly be more different from that when he is safeagain on dry land. Staring death in the face he is a model ofcontrition: once out of the mire he is sulky and bitter.

Jonah's attitude to God is not one we should hurry to emulate. Abetter model is found in the book which follows Jonah in the OldTestament. "What does the Lord require of you," the prophet Micahwrites, "but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walkhumbly with your God?" (Micah6:8).


To Ponder

  • Have you ever been tempted to wish that someone you thoughtdeserved God's judgement had actually received it?
  • Are there occasions when, looking back, you realise that youhave failed to keep a sense of perspective about what is just andwhat is unjust?
  • In each of these, what happened? And what did you learn aboutyourself and God?
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