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Prone to Wander – The Story of Jonah

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Jonah 3:1-4:5

Cody John Simpson


  • Read Jonah 3:1-4:5
    • Its outrageous how Jonah responds and shows the depth of hate that he has for the Ninevites. But we can actually resonate with this:
      • Ninevites are the political/social “other/enemy” to the Israelites. They are the oppressors, the outsiders, “outside the covenant”
      • Ninevites are ultra-violent against other peoples. Israelites have indeed suffered horrendously from the Ninevites. This violence does call out for judgement & justice. Our hearts too would join with Jonah on this issue. “Where God, is the judgement? They don’t deserve peace!”
    • God’s response: “Is it right for you to be angry?” is a masterfully rhetorical question and drives us to some hard truths.
  • It is because of His character that we are not judged and condemned. Jonah’s recital in 4:2 comes from Ex 34:6-7. This self-revelation from God comes after the Golden Calf incident. God forgives Israel of their horrific crimes and sins. He does the same for us. What right, God asks, do we have to be angry when God forgives others since we ourselves have been recipients of God’s grace ourselves? 
  • In our hate we not only forget God’s grace but we begin to actually judge God Himself. That’s what’s going on here in Jonah. Jonah’s anger tells us that Jonah believes God is doing the wrong thing. We do this too. We place our sense of judgement above God and demand He meet our expectations. Is it right that we judge God? Does that not seem ludicrous? Yet we do it. We now find ourselves opposing God as enemies. 
  • We are confused about God’s attributes: In all that God is He is perfect – thus not only perfectly merciful and gracious (as seen here) but also in justice and righteousness. When we are angry at God’s forgiveness we forget that never lets evil go unpunished.
  • Therefore, if God is sure to punish the evil we suffer, we can be free to love and forgive. 
    • A simple quote I like from Miroslav Volf is, “The practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance.”
    • We cannot love and forgive the enemy and the other if we do not grasp that God divinely will make all things right – either at the cross of Christ or His triumphant return.
  • If this is all true, then indeed what right do we have to be angry?
  • It doesn’t mean we condone or forget the injustice, but rather that we can love and forgive the offender. This movement towards the other person starts in our hearts. It’s a change of attitude, an embrace, tearing down walls, or a letting go of resentment.
    • From there we can pray or pursue the other like God has been calling Jonah to do here. Or as Jesus shows us on the cross, as He did the work of dying for us that we can have forgiveness. 
    • And just maybe after this, when the hate is replaced with love we might get reconciliation. 


  • Who is your enemy? Have you been judging God by holding onto your own sense of judgement? Ask God to turn you away from this path and towards His ways of loving the enemy.