Jonah didn’t get it. He preached judgment like God said to. That led to the greatest revival ever, because God is merciful. But Jonah isn’t. He preferred justice to mercy, like we sometimes choose. He will meet them in heaven. Maybe he will apologize.
What happens when God doesn’t cooperate with me? Or when He disappoints me. God is God. I am not. My moods do not change who God is. I need to adjust rather than telling Him to change. Being in a bad mood does not alter who God is. God knows what He is doing, even if it doesn’t look that way to me. When God and I disagree, guess who’s wrong? I am a child of God, not the Father. I am called to serve. I do not lead, I follow. God doesn’t have to do things my way; I do things His way. I easily trip over my emotions. When things happen that I do not like, I need to examine my thinking, not God’s theology.
Dr. Herb Klem started his seminary class at The Master’s Institute this way: There are two things to know: 1) There is a God. 2) You know less about Him than you think. I am not in the position to give God advice. He is the wonderful Counselor, not me. He doesn’t serve my purposes; I serve His. Jesus and Peter had a difference of opinion. Peter got a strong rebuke for trying to tell Jesus, “This shall not happen to you.” Peter was dead wrong. If we don’t learn how to follow, we can’t lead. An unhealthy inversion–for Peter and for Jonah. First he is running, then repenting, then responding, then rebelling–the many moods of a reluctant prophet.
God’s actions displeased Jonah. What could he have done? “God, this is difficult for me. I wanted you to judge them. Help me work through this.” God would have helped. “Do you do well to be angry?” “Maybe not, but I am. Please help me with my emotions.”
You’d think three days in a fish might have softened the prophet. Jonah’s narrow heart contrasted God’s boundless heart. Grace does not connect with one living by law. Jonah’s theology is orthodox but his love isn’t. Pride and prejudice. Jonah likes plants; God likes people. Anger turned out leads to aggression; turned in leads to depression. He wants God to take him out. He was asking to live when he just about drowned. Now he is asking to die. He is turning in his resignation as a prophet. He doesn’t want to work for someone as kind as God. He sounds like Elijah running from Jezebel and feeling suicidal.
What can we learn from Jonah? It is better to form our ideas by God’s character rather than to interpret His actions by our prejudice. God’s mercy does not make sense to people who only wants things fair. Sometimes God’s grace can upset us. He is way too forgiving. Aren’t you glad He is?