I keep thinking of the sermon I heard on Sunday about Jonah.
Jonah fled God's instruction and ending up inside a large fish. He repents, and follows God's instructions to go to Nineveh. He warns the people there that God will overthrow them because of their wickedness. Then Jonah gets upset with God. God shows compassion on Nineveh when they repent. This angers Jonah because he feels it is unfair, and they should be punished. Jonah declares that he would rather die than see the people of Nineveh granted mercy. God shows His patience with Jonah. Jonah goes outside the city and sits in the desert sun. God causes a plant to grow and shade Jonah which makes Jonah happy. Then when it dies, he once again is angry and tells God for yet another time he wants to die.
Verses 9-11 tells us, "Then God says to Jonah, 'Do you have good reason to be angry, even to death?' And he said, 'I have good reason to be angry, even to death.' Then the Lord said, You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left hand, as well as many animals?"
We may be delusional in thinking we do not try God's patience, but doesn't He remind us over and over, with every single mistake, that He wants to cause us to grow? The book of Jonah is only four short chapters yet is one of the most remembered stories from the Old Testament. Every kid that grows up in the Church knows this story, yet Jonah is not in a good place in his heart in any part of the book.
Why do you believe the book of Jonah is included in our Bible? Jonah is not mentioned a lot in the Bible and the book ends with God's rebuke to Jonah. God showed His great mercy and compassion to a large city who was known to have done terrible atrocities and was pure evil.
I believe that this story shows us some very important things:
1- EVERYONE can truly repent, and God will show His mercy and love, and we can be blameless before Him. He created us and He loves us so.
2- We should ALL show compassion to others no matter who they are or where they come from.
3- We should all obey God because, How can we RUN away from the mighty GOD?
This book is a great lesson for us all. We have all sinned and need God to use our past mess-ups to teach us, and to help us be compassionate to others. To teach us to be accepting of others, and to be a person who listens to God and follows what He commands. God loved Jonah and continued to stick by him while he was taught great lessons. Do you think Jonah learned those lessons? How about you?