Profiles of Forgiveness: Jonah

This October we’re talking about forgiveness.  Two weeks ago we talked about Joseph, and last week we talked about David.  This week we’re finishing up our look at Old Testament men with a look at Jonah.

Jonah’s story begins being asked by God to go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent.  Jonah doesn’t want to so he gets on a ship sailing in the opposite direction, the ship hits a storm and because God was angry at Jonah and sent the storm, Jonah is thrown overboard to save the ship and those on it.  But God sends a big fish to save Jonah, and he spends 3 days and nights inside the fish.  Jonah repented, God releases him from the fish on the shores of Ninevah, and Jonah goes and preaches to the people.  They repent and God forgives them.  End of story right?  No, actually Jonah’s mad that God forgave them.

In Jonah 4 Jonah says “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.”

God just forgave Jonah for running away and now Jonah’s mad that God’s forgiving other people.  Yes they were bad people but they did repent and ask God for forgiveness.  How do we come to terms with this?  What would your reaction be if God forgave murderers or rapists?  What if God wanted to forgive Hitler, John Wilkes Booth or Vlad the Impaler?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on Jonah’s situation, or forgiveness in general, share your comments below.

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