When God's Love Annoys Us

Jonah 4:2: He prayed to the LORD, 'Isn't this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing 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'" (NIV).

My family and I were discussing the story of Jonah last night. As we discussed the story, we noticed how much hatred Jonah had towards the people of Nineveh. By nature, Jonah had every right to feel the way he did. The Ninevites had been repulsively brutal in the treatment of the Jewish people. The Ninevites were a ruthless people whom showed no mercy on and had no respect for human life. There are stories from history that describe how the soldiers of Nineveh stacked the decapitated heads of their victims' corpses in shapes of pyramids as a symbol of victory to themselves and as a message to their enemies. There are incidents where the skins of human flesh were peeled off as a tactic of warfare.

When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to pronounce judgment upon the people, Jonah was so repulsed by the idea, that he boarded a ship and went in the complete opposite direction (in America, it would be like going from East Coast to West Coast). After doing so, Jonah finds himself in the belly of a large fish, praying to God for deliverance. God answers Jonah's prayers and Jonah heads back, going down to Nineveh to deliver the message. But, just as Jonah suspected, the Ninevites repented at the preaching and God spared them from total destruction. This really angered Jonah! The Bible states that Jonah was so mad he wanted to die. Can you imagine being that angry? So angry that you want to die? I have experienced plenty of anger in my lifetime, but none so intense that I wanted to die! This statement tells us to what extreme Jonah was angry with the living God. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh for what they had inflicted on the Jewish people, and now, after all that suffering and God finally ready to act, they have been totally forgiven and spared!

Here's the point....God loved the people of Nineveh! They were His creation just as much as the Jewish nation was His. He had a right and the prerogative to want to save them. We have to think about this and consider all the facts involved in order to relate to this story in today's world. The Jewish people were specifically chosen by God. They are His people with His brand on them and He will rise up to defend them against any nation that goes after them. God also loved the Ninevites and wanted nothing more than for them to repent and be healed of their wickedness. That is what we must remember today! God loves all peoples of the Earth! We are all His creation no matter how wicked we can be, God wants nothing more than to save us all!

The next time you feel hatred burning in your heart towards a person or group of people, think about the story of Jonah and how much God allowed one of His own to go through in order to spare a nation of wickedness.


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