Good evening and welcome to our nightly Bible devotional.
Have you ever been angry? Have you ever been angry with God? If you’re going to be angry with God you better have a good reason. Let’s talk about this!
Jonah was a prophet from Israel. God gave Jonah a special task. He was told to go to Nineveh which was in what would later be called Babylon and and preach destruction to them for their evil ways. The story goes that Jonah, instead of going to Nineveh, fled on a ship heading to Tarshish. It is assumed he doesn’t want to preach to these evil people.
Of course, this is the story of Jonah and the whale. So you know how God sent a storm that was about to destroy the ship Jonah was on. You probably remember how Jonah told the sailors to throw him over board and when they did the storm stopped. You also remember how Jonah was swallowed by a large fish or a whale. And after spending three days and nights in that belly of the whale praying to God for repentance that the beast spit him up on dry land.
Jonah then went through the evil city of Nineveh preaching that God was going to destroy the city. The people actually responded to the message and began to repent…. every living creature was covered with sackcloth and everyone prayed and fasted. And then Jonah, in chapter 4, or this book by His name, got upset. Let’s read this together.
When God saw what they (the people of Nineveh) did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. 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. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 3:10-4:4)
In chapter 4 we finally see the real reason why the prophet did not want to heed God’s call to preach to Nineveh. He was angry because God changed his mind and relented from disaster. That was what Jonah was afraid of… that God would save these evil people that Jonah considered his enemies and heathens.
Before this God gave no indication that he was going to changed His mind. He never mentions what would happen if the people actually repented. Jonah hoped that the people would be destroyed in some firework show like that of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord just chose not to reveal explicitly the full scope of the future impact of Jonah’s ministry until it came to pass.
Jonah could not see the future with certainty, but he could know what would happen if the Ninevites were to repent in response to his preaching. So could anyone else who knew God’s character. The Lord is holy, yes, but He is also slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and eager to forgive iniquity (Ex. 34:6–7; Micah 7:18).
Jonah never wanted to go to Nineveh in the first place because he did not want to see the Ninevites turn from their sin. He ran not because he was afraid of preaching in a foreign land but because he was afraid God’s Word might change the hearts and minds of Israel’s hated enemies. So, when the people did rend their hearts and garments, Jonah grew angry at the Lord for being merciful and acting according to what He had revealed about His character (Jonah 4:1–3). Jonah’s anger was irrational—he was mad at God for being God.
Let’s not be quick to judge Jonah here. We want to say that he isn’t compassionate and that he loved his vine more than people. But instead of judging him, Let’s take a close and scrutinizing look at our own hearts. Let’s consider how often we expect the Lord to forgive us but then do not want to see our enemies pardoned. We are too much like Jonah, hoping God will crush our enemies instead of saving them. We like to read the Psalms about God rescuing us from our enemies.
But the Lord takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ez 18:32), neither should we. May our longing always be for the repentance and restoration of God’s foes and ours.
Let’s pray together. PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear God, Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for being a gracious and compassionate God. Thank you for being slow to anger and abounding in love. Thank you for stilling your hand of wrath and sending Jesus as our random for sin. Help me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. In Jesus name, AMEN!
I hope you will join us tomorrow night at 6pm for our Bible devotional. Good night and God bless you.