Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Whale of a Tale

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittal: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. (Jonah 1:1-2a)

Jonah is one of my favorite Bible characters. Not because he got swallowed by a whale and lived to talk about it. Rather, because Jonah’s humanity gets him into trouble at every turn. We all can relate to that.

But when God comes calling, you best not try to run and hide. Jonah’s excursion into the belly of the whale brought remorse into this stubborn man. Out of fear and respect, Jonah finally obeyed God’s command to preach to Nineveh. Remarkably, they heeded Jonah’s warning and repented.

Was Jonah pleased? No, their repentance made him angry. And that’s where Jonah’s true colors shine through. When we look closer, we discover that Jonah had a beef with God that ran deeper than his disobedience. He felt the people of Nineveh didn’t deserve grace. They were a very evil and wicked people. Not only was Jonah angry with the people, he was angry with God for forgiving them. He wanted Nineveh to be punished.

And he said so!

“That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassion God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

Then the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”(Jonah 4:2a-4)

Like a child having a temper tantrum, Jonah didn’t answer. Instead, he sat down at the edge of the city to die.

Wow! I’m not sure I’ve ever been that angry. But there Jonah sat…waiting…

This is where God’s humor and grace come into play in Jonah’s life, as it often does ours. In his Fatherly way, God probably shook his head and said, “Time to teach him another lesson.” He made a vine grow to shade Jonah and, sure enough, Jonah was happy.

Talk about a person with mood swings.

Then God made a worm chew through the vine so it would die and sent a scorching wind to blow on Jonah. You guessed it. Jonah was angry again.

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”(Jonah 4:9)

God then chastised Jonah about his concern for a vine when Jonah had nothing to do with its existence, yet expected God not to be concerned for His people whom He had created.

What are you angry with God about today? Do you feel He has let you down in some way because His solution and yours don’t mesh? Search your heart and ask God to help you get through it. If you’d like me to pray for you, please email me using the link under my profile.


  1. I've always thought Jonah was so silly, ultimately! Rather selfish It's nice to see that I'm not completely crazy and that someone else sees the narrow view that Jonah has at the end of the story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my post. I love Jonah! I laughed out loud the first time I read the book all the way through. He's so real!