by: Pastor Joey Vazquez
Jonah 4:1-2 (NIV) But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
There are a lot of things that people get angry with God about. Since God is God and everything that He does is flawless, all the things that people get angry with Him about are usually due to misunderstanding the way that God works (His ways are not our ways) or because people usually want things their way and when they don't get their way, they get upset. But in our text above, we read that Jonah gets upset with God for something that happens to be the very character of God. Jonah got angry with God because He was too merciful.
The story of Jonah is very interesting and if we read it prayerfully and carefully, we will find our own form of thinking in the story. God had asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to speak against the people because of the sinful way that they were living. But instead of obeying God, Jonah ran away instead. The reason that he didn't want to go and preach against Nineveh was because he was afraid that they might repent. Yes, you read that right. He was probably the only prophet in Israel that didn't want his message of impending judgement if they didn't repent to be heeded. The reason for this is that Jonah didn't like the people of Nineveh at all. The Assyrians were the cause of a lot of grief for the Israelites as they were their archenemies. Jonah wanted his prophesy of the destruction of Nineveh to come true and he knew that if the people of Nineveh did repent, God would be merciful and forgive them and would not bring judgement on them.
After being corrected by God, Jonah repented for running away and went to Nineveh to preach the message of judgement that God had given Him. Sure enough, the people, starting with the king, repented in sackcloth and dust. The king declared a fast and the people turned from their wicked ways. God, seeing their repentance, relented and did not send the judgement that He had said would come. This is what made Jonah so miserable and angry. He wanted the people to be judged. He wanted to see the words of his prophesy come true. But he forgot about his own sin and his own failures in his life. He forgot that he had just been rescued by God when he repented from his rebellion. He forgot that he, too, was not worthy of God's forgiveness, and that was the reason for his anger.
We are very eager to receive God's mercy when we sin. We are so thankful that God is a God of mercy and love and that He is ever so patient with us. But when it comes to other people, many times we want to see them punished for their sin. Perhaps it was someone that hurt us or someone who tends to be ornery and mean. Surely they deserve punishment, don't they? But the same God who forgave our many sins is ready and willing to forgive anyone all their sins when they repent. That is just who God is, and thank the Lord that He is that way because if He wasn't, we would all be in a lot of trouble. The lesson for us is that we should receive God's forgiveness and mercy with much gratitude and humility, and we should come to realize that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Let's let God be who He is and root for as many people as possible to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, even the ones that we think don't deserve it. After all, who among us does deserve it? Thank God for His grace!
Pastor Joey Vazquez