Jonah’s Judgment

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Jonah 4

Today there seems to be an imperious spirit among the developed nations. Everyone has an opinion and without hesitation it is expressed in public. Talk shows on TV abound with the wisdom of every person bold enough to tell the most intimate details of their lives, in order to prove some point. How much error is promoted as evidence of truth! It is my opinion against yours.

The prophet Jonah was ahead of his time. He was willing to go to war with God over whose opinion ranked first. The word of the Lord came to Jonah, but Jonah ran away (Jonah 1:1-3). Surely he had read “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). David knew it was impossible to escape from God’s all-seeing eyes.

What motivated his flight? Jonah was convinced God was making a mistake. He knew in his heart of hearts that God was ready to pour out His love and forgiveness on an evil nation, enemy of Israel – the Ninevites (4:2). He was called to administer God’s mercy to Nineveh. Without considering the consequences, Jonah fled.

Jonah was justified in condemning the Ninevites. They were an ungodly nation internationally known for atrocities in war, and in peace. There was absolutely nothing about this nation that was worthy of being saved, yet here was GOD, Yahweh, willing to bring them to repentance, and He wanted to use Jonah. Nothing doing!

In Jonah’s judgment this was a mistake that would ruin the Israelites. After all the Ninevites were heathens to begin with, and Gentiles – the very people God had told Israel to keep away from for fear they would be spiritually contaminated by their evil practices. Israel would disgrace the very God they served by association with these people! Perhaps Jonah feared his own interpretation of the Word of the Lord that had come to him. He wasn’t going to get involved.

Just suppose these people, hardened and ungodly, decided to turn from their wicked ways. Difficult as that was to imagine, there were questions – how they would worship together, for one? No, Jonah couldn’t trust God for that sort of a miracle.

Then there was the issue of grace…..God’s grace had been withheld from various heathen nations surrounding the promised land. Why of all of these more deserving people groups would God choose to honour the Ninevites with His grace and mercy?


Does this strike home a chord within our own hearts as we think judgmentally of people groups we feel are unworthy of God’s favour? In light of Jonah’s default, let us examine our own hearts to see if in the twenty-first century we might be guilty of similar attitudes, judgment. Might we be at war with God over the fact that He is not willing that any should perish?

by Marilyn Daniels (

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