The final words of Jonah set the theme for the book--"should I not pity??..." It's fair to say that Jonah probably wrote these words after thinking about what God had done with him, what it meant, and what it meant to humankind.
God cares for us. He knows that some of us are evil, and will never turn from our evil ways to worship and serve Him. He tries anyway. Paul wrote, "The goodness of God [is intended] to lead you to repentance..." and so it is. He means us to understand that the evil we see, the evil in our hearts, the evil that is done to us, is NOT His plan.
His plan is for a world without evil, without dictators who have secret police, without Islamic militants, without rockets and bombs and bullets. His plan is a world without disease, without death, without sorrow.
In a sense, much that God desires for mankind is wrapped up in Jonah--
God wants His servants to serve Him 1:1, 2:8-3:2).
God wants His servants to communicate Him 3:2, 1:8-10.
God wants people to listen and respond, so that they in turn can be His servants. 1:8-10,16; 3:5-10.
God wants you to have another chance--see Jonah 3, 4:11.
The problem of evil has been studied a great deal--however, the real problem of evil is what's inside us. The sickness of mankind is a sickness of the soul, and it's played out on every battlefield, in every courtroom, hospital, graveyard.
God has the answer to that sickness, and it's stunningly simple: repent. Serve God. Don't look at the evil in others. Look at the evil in yourself. Call no man an "infidel." Let God judge infidels. You judge yourself, because when you judge yourself, you will not be condemned with the world. That's what happened in Nineveh, what Jonah saw, what at first he could not process. Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed. He wanted his prophecy fulfilled: "40 days from now, Nineveh shall be destroyed..."
Why? Because the Ninevites, in the person of the Assyrians (Nineveh was the capital of Assyria) had literally ruined the land of Israel, killed much of its population, put it to tribute, and impoverished the entire nation. Jonah hated the Assyrians--and the Ninevites. He wanted them dead. So when God offered them life and hope, Jonah hated the success of his own ministry. So eventually he has the conversation with the LORD that ends up as we read:
"Should I not pity Nineveh?..."
As Jonah meditated on this, he must have realized that his own ministry was a revelation of the mind of God--He is merciful, gracious, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
He is the God of second chances.
He is the God of YOUR second chance.
Turn to Him.
Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.
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