By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Jonah
Key Scripture Verse: Jonah 4: 4 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
God gave Jonah very specific instructions and he decided not to do what God told him to do. He hated the sinful ways of the Assyrians at Ninevah and when God told him to go and preach to them about their sin, he avoided it by going elsewhere. He ran away, hopped on a ship headed to Joppa to avoid the whole situation.
But, God had a plan and a mission for Jonah. And when the storm got so bad that the people on the ship thought they would perish, they cast lots to find out who and what was the source of their peril and it fell to Jonah who had already told them he was running from God. Even though they were reluctant to throw him overboard, he told them to do so and then God would calm the seas for them–and that is what happened. But, Jonah, all tangled in seaweed and moving towards his own peril was swallowed up by a whale. God had a plan for Jonah and he wasn’t pleased with Jonah’s response, but rescued him anyway. The whale regurgitated Jonah and he knew he had better get himself to Nineveh.
So, reluctantly he went to Nineveh and spoke to the people who then repented. God had compassion for them after they repented and did not bring the destruction on them that they had deserved. But, Jonah was mad about that.
Jonah knew God was compassionate and loving and just knew these people did not deserve his grace and was just adamantly opposed to that.
God had some more lessons for Jonah and finally challenged him about it. God had taken care of Jonah, rescuing him from the whale and then also providing some shelter under a vine. When he took the shelter away, Jonah in a bratty manner was mad again and said he might as well just die.
God must have just shaken his head on that one. He didn’t want Jonah to die. God wanted him to learn some discipline, wanted him to realize his blessings, and wanted him to realize that His grace is for all—not just for those who are already righteous.
It’s the story of the Prodigal son, isn’t it? The one son who stayed with his father and helped with the chores and followed his instructions, did all the things he was asked to do was mad when his brother returned home—this was the brother who defied his father and Dad was going to have a huge feast and celebration that he had come home. The audacity!
I guess that’s how Jonah felt—Nineveh didn’t deserve it.
But, actually—Jonah didn’t deserve it. We don’t deserve it. It’s grace. It’s a gift and God willingly and lovingly forgives us and blesses us, even when we don’t deserve it.
What a wonderful and loving God we have. Praise His Holy Name!