I hear a lot of people frame this story as if Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh, but fear wasn’t his main deterrent for bringing the LORD’s message.
After all the mayhem with the storm, his near drowning, his salvation through the fish, his eventual obedience leading to Nineveh’s repentance and forgiveness, we find out his clear motivation:
“Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (4:2)
He goes on to ask the LORD to kill him, because that would be better than to witness the salvation of his enemies. He would have rather the LORD let him drown in the sea than see the Ninevites receive mercy.
I love the LORD’s reply: “Do you have any good reason to be angry?” (4:4) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (4:11)
The attitude of Israel to keep the LORD to themselves is something too easily mirrored in us. We shrug at the wrath of the LORD when it comes to our enemies, but we cherish His tender heart towards us. It makes sense. It feels good. We like to point to Romans 9 and say, “who are we to argue with a God who choose us and didn’t choose them?”.
Yikes. The LORD has compassion on all His creation.
Let’s search our hearts to see if there is any of this grossness in ourselves. Is there someone, or some group of people, you would like to see the wrath of God come against? Sometimes I think we use the “come back Jesus” line as an excuse to not get involved, but is the LORD calling you to wade into the territory of your enemies? Ask Him about it today.