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Am I like Jonah?

July 5, 2017

One of the most well-known stories from the Bible is the account of Jonah and the whale. God commanded the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn them of coming judgement. Jonah didn’t want to, so he fled on a ship to Tarshish. God caused a great storm and the fearful sailors drew lots to see whose God was angry enough to cause such an awful storm.

Jonah drew the short straw and was thrown into the sea. He was swallowed by a great fish, spent three days in the fish’s belly and was spit out onto dry land. Jonah then went to Nineveh, preached a message of God’s judgement and the citizens turned to God, pleading for mercy.

This did not make Jonah happy, so he cried out to God:

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 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. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:1-3).

Jonah had a correct view of God: gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.

But notice how he used God’s character as his excuse for disobedience. “That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish.” He knew that God was gracious and merciful, but the prophet did want the wicked Ninevites to experience this grace and mercy. In Jonah’s mind they deserved to be under God’s wrath, to feel the heat of judgement.

Jonah wanted no part in being a minister of mercy. He used God’s attributes as an excuse for disobedience.

Do we do the same thing?

Someone offends us. Damages our pride. Sins against us. We know that God will forgive them. We know that God wants us to forgive them. But instead we choose to pull away from them. We stop talking to them. We break off a friendship. We divorce them. We reason that if we forgive them, they won’t suffer the consequences of God’s wrath.

They deserve to suffer. We don’t want to give them a chance.

Exactly what Jonah did. Get as far away from them as possible, so that we don’t have to be a minister of God’s mercy and grace.

Because we think we know better than God.

Because we think we can pick and choose when we obey God.

Are we like Jonah?

Are you like Jonah?

Am I like Jonah?


From → Jonah

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