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Many people, at least among the older and middle-aged, know about the account of Jonah being swallowed by a big fish or whale and spending three days in its belly.  Fewer know how he came to be there in the first place or what happened afterwards.  God had told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and warn the inhabitants to repent of their wickedness or their city would be overthrown in 40 days.  Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, one of ancient Israel’s enemies.  The Assyrians were cruel and vicious.  They tortured and often killed those they took captive in battle.  Because of their cruelty and their might they were greatly feared—and greatly despised.  When God told Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh, he went in the opposite direction, on a ship going to Tarshish.  He never made it.  In the ensuing storm and events on board the ship he was tossed into the sea, at which time the storm ceased.  After the great fish vomited him out three days later onto dry land, Jonah went to Nineveh and did as God told him.  The inhabitants of the city humbled themselves and turned from their evil ways.  When Jonah saw this, he was angry.  In fact, he was outraged.


Jonah 3:10-4:4:  Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.  So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country?  Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.  Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”  Then the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”


Many believers would say that Jonah was wrong.  That, in turn, would draw a chorus of Amens.  But—how many of these very same believers take the very same attitude Jonah took when they see people repent whom they don’t think deserve a chance from God?  People like drunks, drug users, prostitutes, convicted felons in general and convicted sex offenders in particular.  People who have wronged them personally or someone close to them.  Who but God Almighty gets to make that choice?  Who are any of us to decide who gets saved and who doesn’t?  Who thinks they are exempt from God’s displeasure for taking such a condescending attitude, as if they sit in the place of God?  Perhaps these Scriptures will help jog the memories and convict the hearts of the Jonah Christians who are out there:


Matthew 7:1-5:   “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”


Matthew 12:36-37:  “But I say to you that every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”


Matthew 6:14-15:  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”


James 4:11-12:  Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.  He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.  Who are you to judge another?


James 2:13-  For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.


On that note, if you are one of those “Jonahs” and you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit over your attitude and you repent, God will show you mercy and will forgive you just as he turned and was merciful to Jonah.  God knows there are truly evil things people do which we wrestle with even as believers, and that when we or someone close to us is badly wronged it can take time to overcome the anger and the desire for revenge.  However, there are no exceptions.  The Word of God is what we are to obey and to live by, and that includes forgiving and praying for evildoers, even the notorious ones.


Accountability is not tied to forgiveness.  You can forgive someone who has wronged you or someone close to you but still hold them accountable.  And do not forget:  No matter what we have or have not done, before we came to Jesus Christ for salvation we were all sinners in the eyes of God, deserving only damnation in hell.  Also remember that God gives us the strength to do what we cannot do in our own power.


Isaiah 64:6-   But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


2 Peter 3:9-  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


1 John 1:9-  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


Galatians 5:16-  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.


2 Responses

  1. Amen. I have been a “Jonah” Christian in the past and I repented and learned to forgive even those that have done me wrong when I helped them. Heck I pray for Biden and I know of the wickedness that he and his family have done and what they continue to do. There is still hope for redemption for many and we are all deserving of God’s Grace when we repent.