The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 127

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry” (Jonah 4:1, Amp. Bible)

Has it ever displeased you to see God’s favor rest upon someone who has had a wicked past? You think to yourself ‘I am not like that person. Yet he prospers and I struggle. It’s not fair!’ Well, Jonah had a similar problem. God called Jonah to take a message of impending judgment to the people of Nineveh. However, Jonah decided to flee as far as he could from Nineveh, boarding a ship to Tarshish, the most remote of the Phoenician trading places then known. God intervened. He sent a great storm upon the sea, threatening the lives of all aboard. The sailors cast Jonah overboard, and the sea ceased its raging. Once overboard the Lord caused a large fish to swallow him and he remained in its belly for three days and nights. He cried out to the Lord in repentance and the fish vomited him upon dry land. God then called him a second time to deliver the message of impending judgment. This time, he obeyed. The result was that everyone, from the king down, believed his message, repented, and immediate judgment on Nineveh was averted.

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry’. His reason was “You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and you revoke [the sentence of] evil against them”. In his opinion, they were deserving of punishment and God should have carried out his threat. Therefore, God gave him a personal experience of His mercy. Jonah had constructed a small temporary shelter just outside the city, and sat under its scanty shade ‘till he might see what would become of the city’. He was still hoping for its destruction! God mercifully caused a climbing plant to spring up alongside the shelter to provide him protection from the scorching heat. This pleased Jonah. However, the next day, God caused a worm to eat the plant away. The relentless heat once more endangered Jonah’s life. He was upset that God withdrew the protection of the vine.

God reminded Jonah that his displeasure about the destroyed vine was ill founded because he had done nothing to make that vine sprout or grow! On the other hand, God had a stake in the lives of those whose destruction Jonah was seeking. God was interested in sinners and was constantly working to draw them towards Him. Jonah was evidently pleased to have God show mercy to him but not to others!

The world we live in meticulously records our past to use it for future character assassination. The current political scene is a good example! This should not be the way of the Christian. The sinner who returns to God glorifies Him, because it is God’s desire that none should perish. After all, He made man in his own image.



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