Jonah, God’s prophet to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. A wicked city filled with wicked people. A city that was lost and did not know God.
Jonah did not want to go. He wasn’t afraid for his own life. He afraid they would perish because of their sin. No, he didn’t want to go because he knew God to be a gracious and compassionate God. He was slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness. Jonah knew that God was a God that would relent.
Jonah knew that even though God had already said He would destroy Assyria of which Nineveh was the capitol that if the people humbled themselves turned from their sin God would show them compassion. He would save them.
Jonah feared that if he went to Nineveh and cried out that Nineveh would be overthrown that the people would listen and repent. His fear came true. Nineveh believed in God and they fasted and prayed to God that He might relent “concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.” (3:5-10)
Instead of rejoicing that this city would now be saved Jonah became angry. In essence he said to God, “see I knew You’d save them! I knew You would have compassion on them!”
Jonah’s response seems somewhat surprising. Many scholars believe he was angry because people would think less of God because God changed His mind about destroying them. Jonah was basically upset because he was concerned about God’s reputation.
This may be true, after all I am no scholar and I’ve not gone to seminary.
But as I read this and studied it this week a thought came to my mind. What IF it wasn’t God’s reputation he was upset with but he was angry because he felt they got “off the hook”.
God had “stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasse” (1 Chron 5:26)
Assyria had been and was an enemy.
What if Jonah was angry because an enemy of his people were saved?
What makes me think this could be a possibility? (Beside a crazy mind!) Because Jonah, like
us me is human. With human emotions. And how many times do we I get angry or upset when someone is saved that I think shouldn’t be.
Are you thinking, “Oh a Christian would never think that!!” or “I can’t believe SHE would ever think that!!”
Okay, let me ask a couple of questions.
What if you’ve been abused and your abuser becomes a believer? What if he or she humbles themselves before God and repents? Do you rejoice over one that was lost and now found?
What about the young man who killed all those recently in CO at the theater? What if he hears truth and humbles himself before the Lord and repents?
What about the man or woman who has molested hundreds of children? Or raped and murdered children? Again would you rejoice over that one who was once lost and now would spend eternity in heaven?
What if God would send YOU to speak truth to them? What if they repented and were saved?
I realize it’s a lot of “what if’s” but it has caused me to pause and think about my attitude toward those who I might deem unworthy of saving. Wow…it sounds so awful typed on a page for all the world to see. But if I am honest, while I may not say it out loud there are times that I have thought it. Or thought something similar.
I can’t imagine I am unique in my thoughts and attitudes.
It’s something to consider. To ask God about. Is there a person or type of person, or a people that you would rather not got to in order “to preach the gospel” so that they might be saved?
Our God, Our Father in heaven is not willing that any should perish… should we not be the same?
May we all preach the gospel to all who are lost regardless of how we might measure their sin.
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9