With the book of Jonah, we usually get so tied up with the “swallowed by a big fish” aspect, that we often overlook the human condition and gospel aim. But what theological and comedic gold we miss, when we don’t pay closer attention. Throughout the whole book, Jonah was angry. Why? Because God’s chief aim was to save sinners and not destroy them. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, not because he was afraid of the people, but because he knew God would forgive them.
Jonah would rather see God kill people he didn’t like, than see them come to repentance. What a gospel backwards mentality. Jonah didn’t want to tell the lost about the Lord because he didn’t want God to forgive them. Jonah wanted God’s wrath to fall on the wicked people instead of see wicked people turn from their ways. That seems like a terrible thing when we say it out loud, but then I open my eyes. I look at my computer, I turn on the TV, and wouldn’t you know it? We’re doing the same thing today as Jonah did.
Earlier this summer two teenagers were shot, one fatally, in the fourth shooting in 10 days within the boundaries of the free-protest zone set up near downtown Seattle  and my first reaction was “serves them right.” Here I am, grumpy Jonah, looking after my own interests, throwing a tantrum, and not really caring about other people. Al I can do is hope they get what they deserve while complaining about my petty problems.
The end of Jonah really smacked me in the face, when complaining about the injustice of the worm eating his plant, God says, “you pity the plant . . . and should I not pity Nineveh . . . in which there are more than 120,000 souls who do not know their right from their left?”
We need to look at the world and recognize that people don’t know their right from their left, and God’s desire is to have them turn from ignorance. We who believe in God’s saving grace were ignorant too, once. Do we really not want Nineveh to be saved? Praise God, that He sits on the throne, and not you or I.
God, please forgive us, for wanting the worst for people, when you call us to bring to them your best.
Check yourself, and don’t be Jonah. Pray and desire, instead, for God’s restoration, and weep for the lost as does the Lord who died for them.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall have everlasting life.”
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