The book of Jonah is by far one of my favorite books in the Bible. It actually ranks in my top 3 books in the bible. I am greatly fascinated by how God displays his love through very different ways to all people involved in this amazing bible story.
The bible story:
In the beginning of the book of Jonah, we learn of the wickedness and rampant sin that was dominating the land of Nineveh . God could not stand the sin that was crying from their land anymore.In his loving-kindness, He instructed Jonah to go and preach the message of repentance to them. He gave the Ninevites another chance to make things right. Jonah, a prophet of God, heard the word, but chose to disobey by going to Tarshish. (Tarshish was in the opposite direction of Nineveh). Again, God had the power to instantly destroy Jonah or punish him for disobeying him but He chose to be merciful towards him. Without going further, we can already testify the we serve a very merciful God.
Through a severe storm, God made a way for Jonah to redirect his path and visit his original destination. A major highlight of the story is how God sent a big fish to swallow him and take him to Nineveh in the course of three days.Upon his arrival in Nineveh, Jonah preached a message of repentance for three consecutive days. He successfully convinced the entire city of Nineveh to repent. God was touched by their humility before him. So, He spared all the wrath and punishment that awaited them. Not even one person was destroyed; from the king to the lowest servant. Now that is mercy right there!
In the book of Jonah, the manifestation of God’s’ love is seen from the beginning up to the very end. Below is a breakdown of the lessons from this book.
Lesson 1: God loves everyone
Love for Ninevites
First we learn of God’s great love great for the Ninevites. They were a wicked people who were not living in the fear of God. He is a holy and righteous God and He hates sin. When the Ninevites were enjoying their sinful lifestyle, God had an option to exercise his powers to destroy them. He could have sent consuming fire to burn them all to ashes, He could have sent a flood of water or commanded the land to swallow them up;But He chose not to. The Ninevites deserved destruction but God sent his prophet with a message of repentance and destruction that awaited them had they refused to repent. God did not have to do this. He was justified to destroy them right away for these were a people that knew right from wrong and consciously chose to make the wrong choices. But He chose to give them another chance to repent. Whey they sincerely humbled themselves before him, he forgave all of their sins. God is a loving Father, who does not give up on any of his children. With him, all our acts to change our ways never go unnoticed.
God greatly showed his love for them by extending his mercy.
Love for the sailors
During the storm, God’s love to the sailors is shown through the revelation of the truth. When the storm became severe, they called unto their gods so they could save them but it did not help. They rowed hard to bring their ship to land but they could not. By allowing them to get to a place where they could all admit that their gods were useless and could not save them, God created an opportunity for Jonah to minister the truth to them. Through the witnessing and preaching that Jonah did, the sailors became aware of the one and only true God- the one who is mightier and greater than the pagan gods they used to worship. They got to learn that their gods were useless and powerless. They learnt that there was a true God who was the creator of the heavens and the earth, the one with the powers to calm the storm. On that boat, they ended up fearing him and calling unto him. (Jonah 1:9,14,16). They even offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
The Lord showed his great love to the sailors who were pagan worshippers by revealing himself to them; giving them the true light and delivering them from their ignorance. Through the storm, the Lord won his lost children back to him.
Love for Jonah
God’s love is also shown in the way he dealt with the prophet Jonah. At first Jonah disobeyed God by going in the opposite direction of where God had sent him. He was merciful and sent a fish that swallowed him and took him where he ought to be. We all know there is a reward that comes with bringing God’s lost children back to the father. God was merciful in that he did not leave Jonah to just go and live according to his free will, but He helped him to walk in God’s will for his life. And that is the life that is fruitful and rewarding. God gave him a second chance when he did not deserve it.
His love for Jonah is mostly seen at the end of the book of Jonah. After Jonah’s success in preaching the message of repentance for three days, he went and sat outside the city, awaiting its destruction. He was actually looking forward to the destruction of the children of Nineveh. When it dawned on Jonah that God had been compassionate on them and extended his mercy to the Ninevites, he was very angry at God. Jonah thought this was utterly wrong. He actually prayed to God to kill him, for he’d rather die than live. (Jon 4:3) . In his loving-nature, God did not answer that prayer request- if he had there would be no place in heaven for Jonah. God spared him, so He could give him another opportunity to mend his ways.
Jonah was a prophet who knew the nature of God. When God was merciful to him and took him to his destination in the belly of the fish he had no problem with it. But when He extended his mercies to others, it did not go well with him. He got so angry that he even wished to die. At this point God could have either punished him or granted him his request – kill him in his angry state and let him go to hell. But God chose to love and to be patient with him. He responded, to him by asking him if his anger was a good thing.
Jonah 4:1-4 KJV
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou
This book teaches and reminds us of God’s love for everyone.