Don’t be a Hater

I said in my last post how Jonah did go to Nineveh.

Jonah 3:3-5 “Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city – a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.’ The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.”

It would seem that Jonah got what he wanted, he wasn’t called a loon. Wasn’t placed in jail or persecuted as other prophets were.

No, the Bible says the people believed what Jonah had said, his words from the Lord. Still Jonah is not pleased.

The king of Nineveh proclaims a decree

Jonah 3:9-10 “Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let then give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

The king recognized what was wrong with his city and wanted to change.  Jonah was not as pleased as the Lord with the King’s decision.

Jonah 3: 10 “When God saw what they did and how they had turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”

Jonah 4:1-2 “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? This is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

Talk about being a hater! This passage shows Jonah’s true colors, and I feel is left out a lot because we love happy endings. We get a peek into Jonah’s heart, where what we see is hate.  Jonah is quite dramatic in his next few words. He feels such a strong hate towards these people, he would rather die than see them spared.

Jonah 4:3-5 “Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?’ Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.”

Jonah is actually pouting! Can’t you just see him stomp off, plant himself outside the city walls and sit down stubbornly. I can imagine his thoughts, something like a child’s ultimatum

“I’m not leaving this spot until you destroy this city, God!” Even when we are acting like toddlers God still protects, provides, and loves us.

Jonah 4:6-8” Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed at the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, god provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said ‘It would be better for me to die than to live’”

Jonah is certainly hot or cold, one moment he is happy and as soon as his shade is gone, he wants to die.

Jonah 4:9-10 “But God said to Jonah, ‘DO you have any right to be angry about the vine?’
‘I do,’ he said. ‘I am angry enough to die.’  But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about the vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and as many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?’”

That is how the book ends, God telling Jonah how childish he is being.  We don’t know if Jonah sat there till he died, I will leave it up to you to decide. I would like to think he changed his heart and felt compassion for Nineveh. But the bible doesn’t say.

Jonah was so bitter and stubborn he was willing to die if his enemies were going to live. I think sometimes we down play our hate. If God told us to go to that one person we hate and talk to them about God and his compassion towards them, could you do it?

You might do it if a gun was pointed at your head, or maybe you wouldn’t. Hate is ugly and it can turn us into spiteful children who get stuck in their own little world of Me! Me! Me!
Hate will eventually consume your life, so don’t make it about you. Make it about the Lord and then you will see how childish you are being.

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