Wednesday 07 October 2009

Bible Book:

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

Jonah 4:1–11 Wednesday 7 October 2009


Now the comedy of Jonah comes to a climax. After running away,getting thrown overboard, being swallowed by a whale, being spewedup by a whale, finally agreeing to prophesy God's judgement onNineveh, witnessing Nineveh's repentant response and finally seeingGod's forgiveness of the city, what is Jonah's reponse? An angry 'Itold you so' to God and a request to be put out of his misery! Hetells God that his reason for running away in the first place wasbecause he knew that God was so merciful that God would neverdestroy the city. It has all been a waste of Jonah's time.

God's response is to teach Jonah a lesson by making a bush grow toshade him, and then destroying it. The message seems to be that ifJonah is concerned even for a bush, he should not be surprised thatGod is concerned about 120,000 Ninevites and their animals.

On one level, we are presented here with a spectacularly unlikelyprophet: one who would prefer the destruction of a city to itsrepentance and forgiveness. On another level, however, Jonah turnsout to be a clear witness to God's mercifulness. Even though Jonahwishes God were less merciful, he is convinced that God is somerciful that the destruction of a city is unthinkable. Is a trueword here being put in an unlikely mouth?

We should also note that Jonah seems to revise his personal historywith God in order (verse 1-3) to pretend that he foresaw all theseevents, rather than being scared and disobedient. It's easy tolaugh about this in this comic story, but perhaps the story isleading us to reflect on how we refuse to listen to God, areunmerciful in wishing God's judgement on others and retell our lifestories to show ourselves in a better light.

To Ponder

What impression of Jonah are you left with at theconclusion of this story?

Do you see yourself in any of Jonah's actions?How?

What conclusions are you left with about whatthis little book is doing in the Bible?

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