Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
God makes a gourd spring to give shade to Jonah, by Matthaeus Merian I, 1630
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. / But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
— Jonah 3:10,4:1
According to the story, Jonah spoke just eight words to the citizens of Nineveh,Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown1, and the entire citizenship, including the king, turned from their evil way. This must be the greatest success of any prophet. Most fail, many are ignored, or even, like Amos, threatened. Jonah in a few words convinces a gentile nation to repent and turn to God, something even the people of Israel and Judah are repeatedly unable to do. Jonah is wildly successful, and he wishes he was not. Jonah does not wish to see Nineveh redeemed. He would like the citizens punished, even destroyed. That is not God's way.
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?2
In this story God demonstrates enemy love. While Jonah is stuck in the separation of people, the desire to 'other', God embraces all the people, with love, equally. Sinners are considered learners. Of all the Old Testament stories the story of Jonah is the one which heralds the message of Jesus in the gospels, and the one we need to really, really pay attention to today in the midst of all the othering we do as we build walls of hatred to keep out all those who are not exactly like us.
1 Jonah 3:4
2 Jonah 4:11