v. 10-11 "But the Lord said, 'You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?'"
We have no control over the things God makes and takes care of, yet we are quick to criticize when things are not going our way. How often do we get angry at things that we have no control over? Again, God is trying to get Jonah to see how his thinking was wrong. He was so worried about his own problems that he still did not care if over a hundred thousand people died. Our human brain can't comprehend all that God knows so we have to acknowledge that our opinions are given without knowing all the facts. Have you refocused your outlook to what God has brought to your life? We should look at interruptions as an opportunity instead of a distraction. God may be trying to get our attention to do something great in His kingdom. Will we really see what it is or just get mad and complain. Incorporating this into our lives will be a difficult task.
"The story of Jonah testifies to the power of our willingness to yield to divine interruptions and leads us to consider two things: the effect the Word has on unbelievers and the effect our simple obedience has in our personal circumstances." Priscilla Shirer
Three times in this book God calls Nineveh great. Nineveh was a very important city in the region, but I keep thinking that God is calling Nineveh great for some other reasons. God sees all of us as His creation and the people in Nineveh were also His people even though they did not claim God until Jonah came to town. This shows that those we think are not worthy are so because of who God is. How quickly we look at another person and size them up in a matter of minutes, when we really have no idea who they are or what they have gone through. God see the greatness in us, even when we fail to recognize it. Why are we great? God made us and if you follow Him then the Holy Spirit is inside of us, it's that simple. God sees our hearts, unlike those around us, He knows who we are. Another reason I think God kept calling Nineveh great is because Jonah could never see them as great as long as he held onto his anger.
Jonah knew such a powerful kingdom could destroy his home. "In 722 B.C., approximately thirty-eight years after Jonah preached to Nineveh, the army of Assyria pillaged the kingdom of Northern Israel, laid siege to Samaria, and dragged every last citizen into captivity. Assyria's assimilation strategy was to intermix their conquered people in order to erase each one's former national identity." Priscilla Shirer
Assyria's plan sounded terrible, to erase one's identity is such a vicious thing to do. Many countries have done this in varying degrees. The United States had done things similar to this on a massive scale several times. All but destroying the native people in this country and in bringing slaves here they made them property. They took away their dignity, denied their history so that many forgot where they came from and they were unable to pass down traditions and knowledge from their homeland. In Jonah's time the people handed down stories and traditions so the younger generations would know where they came from. History was very important to the Jewish people so taking that away was one of the worst things that you could do to them.
Jonah still did not see what God was trying to show him. How often do we get upset when a beloved pet dies or if a special keepsake from our children's youth is damaged. Yet do we go around daily sad at the fact that those around us don't know God? Sometimes I will be overwhelmed with the amount of people who do not know God and that makes me cry. Yet, is it daily? No, far from it. Many things from my daily life seem to block out those moments.
"Considering things from God's vantage point give us a filter to view the tangled web of earth's realities, thereby allowing us the divine momentum we need to move forward toward His goals in our lives." Priscilla Shirer
Unlike other books in the Bible, this one ends abruptly without knowing what happens next. We don't know if Jonah finally gave in to God. Whether he went back home or did he die right on that hill? This abrupt ending makes me think that he never turned his heart over fully to God, this might have been the last thing that God ever asked him to do. I also think what happened to Jonah after this was not important. What is important is that after we read this story where will we be in our relationship with God. As long as we focus on what we can see in this book and not worry about what we can't see, then it should be enough to keep our attention on the things that need to change in our hearts. We are in Jonah's shoes and we have a decision to make.
"Knowing whether Jonah responded at the end isn't the question, it's whether or not we will respond."
God answered the sailors when they prayed, Jonah when he prayed in the fish, the people of Nineveh were saved because they turned towards God. God is waiting for us to call upon His name.
So now what?
Will you and I be changed by this book?
Will we make decisions based on God's divine interventions or blow them off as annoying interruptions?
Will we run away or follow the path we were meant to walk on?
Will we turn to someone we don't care for and extend grace to them as God gives it to us?
This is a book of action, do not waste it by just reading it to get it checked off your Bible reading list. Our thoughts and beliefs will turn into the actions we want to show the world. What will yours be?