By Mike Chaffin
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Jonah 4:10-11
The last words here certainly put Jonah in his place, and they should do the same to us. The whole book of Jonah is about his reaction to being instructed by God to preach an evangelism message to Israel’s enemy, the Assyrians.
God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell them to repent and if they don’t they will die in their sins. God will destroy them. Jonah liked the end of the message but not the first part and decided not to go. He decides to get in a boat and go as far away as possible. God is omniscient. That means everywhere. There is no where we can go where God doesn’t see.
God got Jonah’s attention in a remarkable way and Jonah repents of his disobedience. He goes to Nineveh and preaches the message God had given him. To his amazement the Assyrians repent. Still hoping for God to destroy them Jonah decides to go up on a hill to sit and watch to see if God will still destroy them.
Trouble is he is in a desert area and there was no shade. God made a plant shoot up to provide shade. Jonah was comforted by the shade. However, the next day a worm ate the plant and the shade was gone. A scorching sun beat on Jonah. Jonah got angry. God saw Jonah’s heart. He saw the anger and sadness. God’s last words put it all in perspective. Jonah was more concerned for his own comfort than the salvation of others.
God told Ezekiel that He has no pleasure in the death of anyone (Ezekiel 18:32). It is His desire that all come to know Him and ask for salvation, even those who we see as undesirable, unsavable, or different. We might see them as enemies, but God sees them as people in need of hearing the message, “Repent of your sins, accept Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and ask him into your heart.”
Jesus put emphasis on these last words when he told us in Matthew 28:19-20,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
God was with Jonah and He will be with us as well. Those are the last words we need to hear.
Prayer: Lord, you love the whole world. So much so you sent your only Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Lord, help me to spread the good news of the gospel to everyone I meet. Help me overcome my fear and prejudice. In Jesus name, Amen.