Jonah 6: Learn to Care About What Concerns God
This is the sixth and final installment in a series of blog post from the prophet Jonah. In Jonah 4:5-11 we find:
"Jonah left and found a hill that overlooked Nineveh from the east. He made a shelter and sat in its shade to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a plant that grew to provide shade over Jonah’s head and ease his discomfort. Jonah welcomed the plant. But when dawn came the next day, God sent a worm to attack the plant, and it withered.
"As the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind. The sun beat down on Jonah so that he almost fainted. 'I'd prefer death,' Jonah grumbled. 'Just let me die.'
"Then God asked Jonah, 'What right do you have to be angry about that plant?'
"Jonah replied, 'I have every right. I’m so bitter I just want to die.'
"So the Lord said, 'You show great concern over an expendable vine you had nothing invested in. You didn’t have to plant it or prune it. It appeared one day, gave you comfort, and perished the next. Do you think I shouldn’t be at least as concerned for the great city of Nineveh, that boasts more than 120,000 souls who no longer seem able to discern between right and wrong, not to mention thousands of innocent animals?”
Jonah was in excruciating pain. He was disgusted and disillusioned. Gastric acid from a fish’s stomach dissolved his hair and skin. Can you imagine sending a person with second degree burns out to face the blistering sun in hot dessert winds? Sand and dirt probably lodged in his scabs.
He spent five and a half weeks marching through a strange intimidating city in a tattered garment yelling offensive threats at an adversarial audience.
He wanted and expected vengeance. These people had mocked his God and killed his people. He enthusiastically proclaimed they were finally about to get what they deserved. He was confused and disappointed when they unexpectedly repented and received mercy in place of justice.
God judged their sin. He sized them up and lined them up for his wrath. They deserved whatever he poured out on them. When he confronted them, they owned up to their sin and repented. That’s all God ever wanted. Had Adam simply owned up to his sin and repented when God confronted him, he may not have been banished from the garden. Had Cain owned up to his sin and repented, history might have turned out differently. Had many proud kings and defiant peasants who refused to bow the knee simply owned up to their sin and repented when God confronted them, the world would be quite different now.
God lovingly showed Jonah that when deviants and criminals confess and repent he is forever willing to forgive and restore. That’s all God ever really wants from any of us. Yet, Jonah refused to bow the knee himself. He did what God commanded and expected him to do outwardly, but he refused to see from God’s standpoint so he couldn’t understand and accept what God did in response. ship was righted and justice was served.
God wants you to do, possess, and become something special. But unless you see things from God’s perspective you might enjoy success and not recognize it. You could miss the blessings and joy that were designed to go along with it. Do what God calls you to do. But do it for God. Learn to care more for what God is concerned about. And may God richly bless you on your journey.