I was reading the book of this morning and thinking about Jonah – the Veggie Tales movie when A few things became connected. In and again in Jesus says that only a wicked and perverse generation demands a sign and that no sign shall be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Matthew 12 further explains the whole three days in the belly of the fish comparing it with Jesus’ three days in the earth (grave). Which on the surface is nothing new here. But God took me to a different place this morning. In reading Acts, and listening to Paul give testimony as to what he was on trial for over and over again… and listening to his answers to the charges against him, I was struck with another viewpoint of Jonah.
is about a prophet of the same name who was sent to the city of Nineveh (located in present day Iraq). Although Jonah is sent, he gets on a ship headed in the opposite direction and proceeds to get thrown overboard. Jonah’s prayer in Chapter 2 from the belly of a great fish is pretty amazing, and I recommend you meditate on it. In chapter 3 we get the whole evangelistic thing with Jonah telling the people of Nineveh to repent or God would destroy the city. One great point is that when word of this reached the King of Nineveh – he repented in sackcloth and ashes (dust) and gave a royal decree for his people to do likewise. Pretty amazing for a bunch of rowdy, immoral, gentiles whom God himself describes as not knowing their right hand from their left.
What if the sign of Jonah were more than just the whole fish/in the ground thing? Here was Jonah – a man who heard from God (representative of the Kingdom of God?) who wanted to see these gentiles destroyed. Unfortunately for him, God sent him on a mission to deliver a message which Jonah doesn’t want to do. He finally goes after some amazing prodding by the Almighty and delivers a message kind of like the modern version of “turn or burn”. But Jonah doesn’t love the people of Nineveh. In fact, Jonah wants to see the city of Nineveh destroyed. Jonah is described at the end of chapter 4 sitting to the East of the city waiting for its destruction. He is angry because God has shown compassion by not destroying it. God raises up a plant to provide shade for Jonah, and then arranges for a worm to eat the plant. Jonah is really mad at this point: God asks him if he has any right to be angry about the plant and Jonah says “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” God responds with the description of the people not knowing right from wrong and the fact that there were 120K people and lots of animals as well in the city.
Could the Jews at the time after Christ be a Jonah? Jesus (God) came with a message of repentance which was promised to all the world (from Adam) through Abraham to the present day. God is the creator of all – not just the chosen people of Israel. Were the Jewish people at the time of/after Christ angrily awaiting the destruction of the gentile world? How about the hell preachers of today? Are they loving? Or do they want to see people die? Were the Jews so mad that they wanted to die rather than be amazed that a world began to come to their God? Was there a few different signs in Jonah? The anger displayed at Paul in Acts was the jumping off point for me… hopefully you will get something out of it too.