We miss much of the account of Jonah if we do not see where his personal feelings toward the people of Nineveh led him. Bitterness, turned into hatred, led to manipulations that not only affected him, but others.
When you read what he said to the Lord in 4: l and following, “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me; for death is better to me than life’.”
Need we point out how, though understanding the heart of God to a people who had turned from Him, Jonah allows that personal hatred to drive him into action that affected many others not involved with Nineveh. How ridiculous for anyone to think that he can out-think God!
He was acquiring a ticket on a boat, when he should have purchased a donkey or a camel.
There is desperation in Jonah. He wants God to take his life, and I have to believe that it was so great, but he was fearful of the account that he would have to give to the Lord for a suicidal action. If God took his life, Jonah would be history from a different direction.
It took a little “persuasive action” on the part of the Lord to get Jonah heading in the proper direction. There was the storm, a group of God fearing seamen, a large fish and a “throw-up”, a time of bitterness and moping because of the people that he hated turning to the Lord, a plant growing overnight, a worm destroying that plant, and finally God’s rebuke: Jonah! You had more concern for a worm and a plant than you had for people that you “hated”.
The final rebuke to Jonah is one that none of us should ever forget, especially when it comes to the problem of “bitterness or hatred!” God Loves people! He is not tolerant of our intolerance. Never forget the worth of a soul in need of our Savior!
“For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)