Well, I have not written a new post in almost a year now. I figure it is about time to post something new.
During my sophomore Christmas break from school, I was reading Jonah for the first time in a long time. Some books of the Bible I don’t read because I feel like I had been taught them so much in children’s church and therefore now I know everything there is to know about that certain topic or book. Jonah has been this way for as long as I can remember but for some reason, I decided to take a little tour down memory lane (All of this beginning banter is pointless and I am sorry that it is contaminating my soon to be profound and incredibly thought-to provoke new blog post).
I was reading the whole book in one sitting (only four chapters) at Dunn Bros the other day and I found something that I had never realized before.
We all know the story of Jonah: God calls Jonah to the evil Ninevites but Jonah says no and runs away until God finds him and gets a fish to eat him as corrective punishment. Jonah is then spat out of the fish and decides that it is now time to go to the Ninevites and proclaim God’s message. He does this and they all repent and God relents from his anger towards Nineveh.
The part of the story I guess I had always missed, the part that God spoke so powerfully to me about was in chapter 4. At the end of chapter three the Ninevites hear that God is going to bring disaster and they decide (V9) that “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” They gave repentance a dying chance and in verse 10 “God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” I love that God was fiercely angry but repentance is a characteristic God seems to like so he relents. However, in the beginning of chapter 4, it says that this relenting “displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was angry” (4:1). The next verse is what gets me:
“And he [Jonah] prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O 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 you are a gracious God and a merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.'”
Jonah did not disobey God because he was scared of the Ninevites as I had always believed. No, Jonah fled because he hated the Ninevites and he knew that if he went there God would be merciful to them. I love that Jonah fled instantly because he knew what kind of a God he was dealing with. He absolutely knew for certain that if they repented God would be merciful and all Jonah wanted was wrath and judgment.
This is incredible to me. The fact that he didn’t need God to say anything about mercy. Jonah knew God’s character so well that he was certain that God was “a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” All too often I picture God as angry and mean. I want Jonah’s view of God: Loving and merciful to the repentant. A “gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”