Old sour Jonah seems to have made the fish sick, so he gets barfed out on the bank, and as soon as his legs were unwobbly enough, he heads for Ninevah. He smells bad but is determined to obey. He might not be happy about his mission but he sure is happy to be out of the fish. God’s praises bubbled out of his inner being.
“But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
I like old Jonah. In my mind I see him with a perpetual scowl on his face, trying to manipulate God to his point of view. He reminds me of me.
If you start the story in chapter three, Jonah looks obedient. It’s like God says, “Okay, now. Go to Ninevah and announce my judgement against them.”
And maybe Jonah straightened, saluted “Aye, aye sir!” and ran off smelling like fish barf to obey God. It took him a while to get there, but he got there didn’t he?
You ever been through that process?
Greatest Revival in Ancient History?
Jonah didn’t stop running until he screeched to a halt at Ninevah. As a good prophetic evangelist he may have been working on his doom and destruction voice the whole way. “Briiimmmstone-uh! Destruction!” and with a bit less enthusiasm, “Repent.”
But, at the gate of the city he must have paused and gulped. This place was BIG. Took three days to walk across it.
These people were arrogant, cruel enemies of his people. “Mean” barely begins to describe the Assyrians. There are stories of them skinning enemies alive or impaling village leaders on sharpened poles.
He must have taken a deep breath and plunged into the city. A day’s walk put him in a strategic place. From here there was no running. It was either revival or a skinning.
““Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:3) ““Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown. “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
I believe the fiery prophet enjoyed this part. Notice he didn’t even mention the possibility of repentance. He hoped they wouldn’t.
Imagine his dismay when all around him, people began to repent and call on God for mercy. Even the king proclaimed a fast and everyone was asking forgiveness for their horrible acts.
Jonah must have been saying, “No, no, no! Don’t repent. He’ll hear you and forgive you and give you another chance. No! Here! Skin me alive or something, but don’t believe what I’m saying.”
Only evangelist I ever saw who was mad about an effective altar call. Over 100,000 conversions and Jonah wasn’t even taking pictures!
He said, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!
“So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” God said, “What do you have to be angry about?” (The Message, Jonah 4)
He stalked out of the city, mad as a mother who finds her teenage son still in bed five minutes before the school bus comes.
He finds a place so he can see the city well and waits. I can almost hear him mumbling, “Come on Lord. Zap them. Wipe them out.”
But no. God Almighty who unleashes a tsunami of compassion. And a dark, dark mood descends on Jonah.
God turns from the multitudes to his pouting preacher. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t treat us like we deserve to be treated?
He caused a big, leafy plant to grow up and provide some shade from the blistering desert heat. Jonah must have thought, “God has provided relief for his suffering servant. He did a miracle for me but I deserve it after all I did for Him.”
Then a strong-jawed insect gnawed into the plant and it withered. Then God—notice it was God who did it. I’m telling on you Lord—then God sent a scorching east wind and a blazing hot sun to make the angry hardhead even madder.
“Just kill me God,” was his prayer.
Jonah, God’s patience is unlimited but you’re pushing it. I’d be careful if I were you.
God speaks to him gently, (I paraphrase), “Jonah, do you have the right to be mad about the plant?
“Yes, I do.” (I hear you criticizing. But, do you remember the last time God took away some of your comforts, part of your “heritage in Christ,” and you got mad and said, ‘Why?’ You ought to hush and learn).
The Lord reasoned, “You’re mad because of a plant. I could be mad, too. But, there are 120,000 people down there who have very little spiritual discernment. If you can feel sorry about the loss of a plant, can’t I feel the pain of 120,000 people screaming out into eternity unprepared?”
God doesn’t tell us the end of Jonah’s story. Why?
I think because Jonah’s story is yours and his story is mine. We’re all a mix of grumpiness, prejudice, wanting to give God advice, not wanting to obey, and we’re mad because God didn’t do it the way we thought he should. That’s mixed with a love for God, a deep faith in Him, strengthened by a heart of praise and adoration.
Jonah is you and me. It’s up to us to finish the story.
Once people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they will believe in nothing; rather, the problem is that they will believe anything. C.S. Lewis
Just burned 2,000 calories. That’s the last time I leave brownies in the oven while I nap.
What’s the difference between a northern fairytale and a southern fairytale? A northern fairytale begins “Once upon a time …” A southern fairytale begins “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this…
“Doctor, there’s a patient on line 1 that says he’s invisible”
“Well, tell him I can’t see him right now.” (One Line Fun)