The story is quite simple.
Jonah Tries to Run Away from God
Chapter 1: God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach coming judgment. Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites and didn’t want God to spare them from judgment, so he fled in the opposite direction by boarding a ship heading to Tarshish. A storm arose and Jonah slept. The sailors cast lots and determined Jonah was the cause of the storm. Jonah told them to throw him overboard and they did so. Then they called out to the LORD. God prepared a great fish (whale?) and it swallowed Jonah. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish (1:17).
Chapter 2-3: God caused the fish to vomit up Jonah and three days later Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh. He preached coming judgment and the whole city repented (3:5).
Chapter 4: God not only cared about saving Ninevah, He also cared about changing Jonah’s angry heart.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “I pray thee, Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repentest of evil. Therefore now, O Lord, take my life from me, I beseech thee, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Then Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.Jonah 4:2-5
God wanted Jonah to warn Ninevah.
Jonah did not want to.
Jonah did not like the people of Ninevah.
Jonah did not WANT the people of Ninevah to be saved.
He did not think they deserved to be saved.
Jonah was angry with them AND with God’s request to warn them of their wickedness.
He was SO angry that when the people of Ninevah did repent and turn from their evil ways, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it ~ that Jonah told God he would rather die than to live!
He would rather die than live!
Simply because of his anger.
Sounding eerily familiar in our World today?
Right now we live in a very angry world. Some would say, “of biblical proportions.”
We won’t go down the rabbit-hole of politics; but I am certain, unless you’ve been living in the belly of a whale, you know that the red fish and blue fish are angry with one another.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated are angry with one another.
There are some races who are angry with one another.
(Fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank) are angry with one another.
Even our Church is divided amidst anger.
Jonah is the only book in the Bible that ends with a question by God.
Isn’t it time to stop being so angry?
This lent if you find a slice, or even a sliver of anger in your heart will you ask God to uproot it?
Will you ask Him to swallow it up to be removed from your heart?
I know I am.
And I do hope when He does, it is replaced by something much kinder.
Like maybe more love.
We are not really told whether Jonah fully understood God’s love and compassion, but we might think that he did because he authored this book and told the details of his disobedience as well as God’s grace and love for all people.
One fish. Two fish. Red fish. Blue Fish.
This one is a little small. This one is very very tall.
Big or small. Red or blue.
They ALL are fish.
The lessons from Jonah are even greater than the tale of a whale, don’t you think?
hugs n’ blessings for all those freed from anger.