But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. Jonah 4:1 (NIV).
Get ready, my friend, because this one is going to leave a mark. Jonah became angry at God because God didn’t smack down the Ninevites. He got torqued off because God didn’t rain down fire and brimstone at supremely wicked Ninevites. You know: the Ninevites who didn’t kill Jonah as soon as he walked into the city and told them they were damned. The Ninevites who had a genuine change of heart and heartfully expressed it. You know the God: the one who drowned the Egyptians, crushed the prophets of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Dagon.
That God: He didn’t punish Ninevah the way He said He would because Ninevah genuinely said “we’re sorry.” And that really pissed off Jonah.
Guess what? Take a look in the mirror, my friend, and you’ll see Jonah there. He stares back at me, too.
It’s nothing new, our pettiness and craven idolatry. That’s what we’re displaying when, like Jonah, we get ticked off when ‘the other guy’ doesn’t get his comeuppance. It’s God’s fault; we blame God. When we do that, we’re being petty and placing our opinions & our ideas above God’s. It’s like we’re actually saying, “screw you, Jesus. I know better.”
I’m guilty of it. You’re guilty of it. It’s the same guilt that plagued Adam and Eve because they were guilty of the same thing. To us, it’s wrong when God doesn’t do what we expect. And it seems extra wrong when God doesn’t take out His anger on people who do wrong in our eyes. It’s what Jonah thought.
But who am I to judge God? Who are you? Who was Jonah, or Adam or Eve? Let’s, instead, put ourselves in the shoes (or sackcloth) of the Ninevites and praise God that He has deep mercy that we, as His humanity, have cast aside. Mind you, God didn’t change His mind about Ninevah’s sins (or ours). Sin is still sin. But God is also still God and shows His very good creation, mankind, far more love and mercy than mankind shows each other. If it had been left up to Jonah, Ninevah would have been struck down hard. Thank God that He’s God and we aren’t.
Face it: we’re like the older brother of the prodigal, who got angry that their happy father threw a party when the wayward brother returned. We’re like the vineyard workers who got angry with the vintner for paying the same wages to people who worked eleven hours less than they had. Face it: fish and all, we’re Jonah. That one will leave a mark.
For further reading: Matthew 20:11, Luke 15:28, Jonah 4:2
Lord Jesus, all praise to You for Your perfect mercy and love. Forgive me when I waste the love You give me.
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