Ep.068: Jonah Scolds God.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

Today, a quick look at Jonah.  

Here’s the story: God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. His assignment was to warn the citizens that if they didn’t repent, God would destroy the city in 40 days. That’s like God sending you or me to the capital city of today’s evil empires — Washington D.C. or Beijing — to threaten destruction and preach repentance. Jonah wasn’t impressed. He liked the idea of God destroying Ninevah. So instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah took a Mediterranean cruise in the opposite direction, to a city where he could wait comfortably for news that God had carried out his 9/11 on  Nineveh.

But God wasn’t so easily deterred. Jonah’s cruise encountered a fierce storm, and Jonah told the sailors he caused this by disobeying God. “Throw me overboard!” he told the crew. They did. The storm stopped, the ship was saved, and God provided Jonah a prayer room in the middle of the ocean — in the belly of a whale. Jonah took the hint and did some serious praying. Soon the whale got indigestion and vomited him up on the land. God said to Jonah, “Did I mention Nineveh?” and Jonah replied, “OK, maybe I’ll go.”  So he preached to Nineveh until the king and the people of that evil empire sought God and changed their ways. God decided not to destroy the city after all. 

Jonah found this outcome intensely annoying. He pouted and went to the desert and said, “God, this is exactly what I warned you about. I was only trying to protect you from yourself. You bill yourself as loving and compassionate, but you had already given Nineveh all the love and compassion they needed. It was time to destroy them. But I preach a bit, and they repent a bit and you go all soft and decide not to punish them? How is that helpful? You were well on the way to implementing regime change in Assyria, but now we’re back at the unhappy status quo.”

God responded by providing another prayer room for Jonah. A leafy plant grew up over Jonah’s shelter in the desert, and he was comforted by the shade. But the next day, the plant died and Jonah was angry. God said to him, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” Jonah replied, “Yes, it is. I’m so angry, I wish I were dead!” 

God said to him, “You have compassion on the plant that gave you shade? I have compassion on all the people I have made, even the ones in the evil empire.” 

Some lessons from Jonah:

1.    First, sometimes God is not a fan of violent regime change to solve the problem of evil. I wish someone would preach that message in Washington and Beijing.

2.    Second, God is a fan of all the people he has made. He prefers mercy to punishment, but he thinks the merciful approach works best when people seek him and turn away from evil. 

3.    Third, a Mediterranean cruise might not be the answer to your current set of spiritual problems. You might just bring yourself and your troubles along on the cruise, and then where would you be?

4.    And finally, God kept providing prayer rooms for Jonah, even when he was disobedient and angry. Why don’t you tell God you need a prayer room, or maybe use the one you have? 

Let’s pray.

Our father, you love all the people you created. Send your prophets to Ottawa and Washington and Beijing and Mogadishu and Moscow. May the evil empires find their way to repentance and new life, instead of violence and perversion and destruction.

Amen. 

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”. 

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