When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
The story of Jonah is one that many of us are passingly familiar with, from vacation bible school and pop culture, but it’s a story that certainly deserves a deeper look. It’s not Pinocchio, where Gepetto fishes in the whale’s belly. It’s a story about hatred, and how our lack of compassion for our enemies stands against God’s nature and His desire for our hearts.
When we read of Jonah warning the Ninevites of God’s wrath, and them repenting and being spared, that is what we should hope will happen in our world, to the enemies of God’s kingdom. But, in a way that I think is timely in our world of terrorism and political divide, I believe many of us would actually be like Jonah. We’d be so angry that we’d rather die than see our enemies forgiven.
We should desire, not the death of our enemies, but for our enemies to become our allies, even our brothers and sisters. As Abraham Lincoln once said “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
1. Have you ever hated anyone so much, that you’d rather see them destroyed than redeemed? How can or how did the Holy Spirit help you to overcome that hatred?
2. How can you more effectively pray for your enemies? What are some ways you personally can call the most wicked amongst us to repentance?
Pray that God would give you a mission, to preach the truth to those who need to hear it, both near and far. Pray that your heart would never be so full of hatred that you miss the opportunity to love someone enough to call them to the arms of Jesus Christ.