Do we put limits on what God can do?
Jonah’s motives are finally laid bare. Jonah ran away because he knew exactly who God is, and that God, through sending his word, would reveal His character to Nineveh: “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity”.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, an enemy nation who oppressed Israel. Jonah wants Nineveh to be destroyed, not saved. Jonah is angry at God and wants to die. Jonah goes out east of the city, to see what would happen to Nineveh.
Once again Jonah turns away from God and once again God provides for Jonah. God rebukes Jonah for caring more about a plant that sprang up overnight than for the people of Nineveh. It is both a judgement on how little Jonah reflects God’s character and a revelation of God concern for Nineveh. Despite being a constant recipient of God’s grace and mercy, Jonah wants to put limits on who gets to experience God’s concern, grace, compassion, patience, love, and forgiveness.
Perhaps, like Jonah, we are angry at God for what he is or is not doing. Maybe we are angry that God is being faithful to his own character rather than acting on our concerns. Thankfully, as this book has shown us, God’s mission – birthed by his unchanging love and concern for his creation – cannot be stopped. God is unrelenting in his pursuit. The question is, are we running with God’s word to a world that desperately needs to hear it or are we running the other way?