WEEK 10: Selfish Destruction
“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.’” (Jonah 4:1-2, ESV)
God relented from punishing Nineveh because they repented of their evil ways. And now we find Jonah, who ran away from God, angry with the same God who showed him mercy by saving his life, just like He did for Nineveh. Jonah deserved the full wrath of God, but God relented, and Jonah was pleased. Nineveh deserved the full wrath of God, but God relented, and it “displeased Jonah exceedingly”. Could Jonah be so selfish?
The Hebrew word use here for angry is “charah”, meaning “to glow or grow warm, to blaze up, anger, zeal, jealousy”. Jonah did not suddenly become angry at God – it started the moment the fish spat him out. And from there, with every step he took towards Nineveh, the anger grew and grew to the point where Jonah was blinded by his anger, unable to see the repentance of Nineveh. There was an inner battle between flesh and spirit going on inside of Jonah, and the flesh won. How quickly the praise of Jonah in Chapter 2:9 was forgotten (“But I with a voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord”).
Jonah was now angry with God, and he took it a step further by accusing God of His very nature (“You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster”). Jonah accused God of making a mistake – that because He is steadfast in love, gracious and merciful, Nineveh would no longer get what it deserved. The men of Nineveh had killed men of Israel; they had stolen, raped and pillaged, and now God had forgiven them as if these sins had never happened…
Jonah wanted Israel, the chosen people of God, to be the only benefactors of God’s salvation. And now God had extended it to Nineveh – a heathen, idolatrous nation and the enemy of Israel. Could Jonah be more selfish?
If you are the only one benefitting from your relationship with Christ, then something is wrong. Christ Jesus did not come to save only you but all who repent, deserving or not, chosen or not. Beware that your flesh does not overpower the Spirit of God in you. Choose today to share the benefit of having Christ. Choose today to praise the steadfast love, mercy and goodness of God, so His kingdom may advance. If you don’t, His kingdom within you will be destroyed by your selfish flesh.