Pastor's Corner: Von Anderson
The Rest of The Story
Jonah 4:4, And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”(ESV). So we have finally made it to the last chapter of the book of Jonah. Each of the previous chapters ended with a very quick statement about what was taking place, why the beginning of the next chapter seemed to expand on the last statement on the previous chapter. It is sort of like the old radio personality Paul Harvey did, it gives us the rest of the story. At the end of chapter three we see that the people Nineveh had repented and the God had turned against His wrath against them and would spare them the destruction that had been proclaimed.
Then chapter 4 begins with what happened before God had turned from His wrath. First we see Jonah’s response to what he was seeing among the Ninevites. They was repenting, putting on sackcloth, turning their hearts to God by crying out. Everything that should be involved in ones repentance of their own sins. This angered Jonah to no end. We see that in the first three verses of chapter 4. Not only that we finally get an insight as to why Jonah ran in the first place. Just a quick reading of Jonah’s response in chapter 1, would have us believe that Jonah was just being disobedient. It is written as if God asked Jonah and Jonah said no and then left for Joppa. Here in the first two verses of chapter 4 we read, 4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.(ESV). You see Jonah really knew and understood the abounding steadfast love, and the complete grace and mercy that God bestows upon mankind. He knew that if he went to Nineveh and preached against it, they would hear, they would respond and that they would repent, therefore God would not bring the destruction he promised.
So why was that something that Jonah would run from? The answer is simply this, HE DID NOT WANT TO SEE THE NINEVITES SAVED. I hope everyone could read that answer. His hate and desire to see them suffer was greater than his own love and compassion to see individuals come to know who God is. Remember at this time the Assyrians were Gentiles(Non-Jewish). They did not worship God nor follow His commands. They were outside the promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the mindset of Israel. Yet God was sending Jonah to preach to them. Jonah knew that if he did what God was commanding, then the people would repent and come to know God and be part of the people of God. Jonah had no intentions of letting that happen.
So my next question is this, Who is it that we hate, despise, desire that they would receive what we believe that they deserve, that if God called us to go and preach to them that we would refuse and run the opposite way? Is it the homosexual, the pedophile, the murderer, the rapists, the corrupt politician? Or is it a specific nation, religious group, race, or people group? It has to be someone. Why? Because, as a Christian people we certainly are not even coming close to going to all people, nations, tribes and tongues as God as commanded us to go. In the 28th chapter of Matthew Jesus says this, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(ESV). Did you notice verse 20, where it says to teach them. This is speaking of teaching the what is right and wrong.
Not according to our beliefs or principles, but from God’s word. Verse 11 in chapter 4 has God asking Jonah should not He(God) have concern and compassion on those of His creation that do not know their right hand from their left. The illustration here is, these people do not even know what is right and wrong. So why should destruction come to those who have not heard the truth? We may live in a “Christian” nation where “God” and “The Bible” or spoken of and taught, but believe me there are many people who do not know right from wrong, they do not know their right hand from their left.
So before WE make the determination of who does or does not deserve the mercy and grace of God, we need to realize it is not our choice, it is God’s choice. He is the king, He is the Lord, He is the ruler and creator of all mankind, and it is His command and decision that all men come to know Him as Lord and Savior. I hope that this quick look at Jonah has given you something to think about as well as maybe some encouragement to be bolder in your witness in this world.