Jonah 4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
Jonah is mad at God for saving Nineveh. Isn't that hilarious? He's telling God, "I told you so!" "I knew it, I knew you would do this." Jonah would prefer that they did not receive grace and that they would, instead, receive their due. He might be quoting the Scripture He knows when He says that God is "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love". Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8...this is a refrain of the Old Testament. Jonah already knew this in His heart. So, why is he surprised?
I think that often we want God to be "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" toward us, but not toward those that we deem unworthy. He saw the Ninevites as sinners undeserving of grace. I hear the refrain of a little kid here. "But God! IIIIIII want grace, but they started it so they should get in trouble!" We like to point at Jonah and shake our heads, thinking that we are so unlike him. We are so thankful that God would offer grace to the Ninevites. We are thankful that He forgave. Because in this passage we can clearly see how this forgiveness can be extrapolated to His forgiveness of us. We want God to be loving toward us, to keep His anger at bay even when we sin. Yet, do we wish that for others? How old are we? I don't mean literally, but spiritually! Are we drinking milk or eating steak when it comes to God's Word? Are we seeking the lost, having a burden for those who live chained to sin? I'm not saying the Ninevites had no control over their actions, but they were chained to sin. We rejoice when God breaks those chains and forgives those who knew Him not. So let us go forth to those who have once called enemies, who have though did not deserve grace, and let's shout God's love at the top of our lungs.
"GOOD NEWS FRIENDS! GOD IS SLOW TO ANGER AND ABOUNDING IN STEADFAST LOVE! RUN TO HIM! TURN TO HIM!"
This should be our new refrain. The refrain of an adult in Christ, whose ways and thoughts have been turned to the ways and thoughts of the Creator God.