What is Jonah about? Jonah’s character is strange. It seems to be more about God, which is appropriate, given this is the Bible. Certainly the extraordinary repentance of Nineveh seems a bit tossed off.
Accepting that he must proclaim gods message Jonah does the crazy prophet thing… walking though town and shouting that the end is nigh. And it works, big time.
They all repent, the king makes a proclamation telling everyone to ask God for forgiveness, they do and God forgives them.
This is the capital of Assyria. The ruins are still there today, right outside Mosul in Iraq. The Assyrians were merciless in their treatment of the Hebrews. Jonah may even have witnessed atrocities at their hands, who knows.
And they were not gods people. The whole self definition of the Hebrews was that they were the ones god chose. It is an extreme case of love your enemies.
It makes sense of why Jonah ran when God told him to bring a chance of avoiding destruction to them. He wanted them destroyed. His sense of justice was affronted. Not them lord, they deserve your wrath not your mercy.
Being told to love his enemies, he ran. Jonah’s challenge was to love gods mercy, not just his justice.
The challenge for me is as much to remember here how important gods justice is. I’m your classic western liberal slacktivist who wouldn’t really mind if everyone had a second chance. But to people to whom life has been a lot less fair, and much more harsh, gods justice is more precious.
It is certainly an example of the topsy turvy calculations of grace.
I praise you father for your grace.