Why was Jonah so unwilling to obey God’s first call to go preach and warn the city of Nineveh that they had 40 days to repent or burn?
1. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh because of their cruelty to the Jewish people. They had taken many captive, raped the women and some of the soldiers had fathered children by the Jewish women. They were also deep into idolatry and the worship of false gods and were participating in witchcraft of every kind.
2. Jonah knew the kindness and mercy of our Lord, and he was deeply worried that if the people of Nineveh heeded his warning, that God might change his mind and not destroy the people and their city.
When the GREAT storm arose, the sailors soon decided that someone must be at fault and when they drew straws, Jonah’s lot was chosen.
Where was Jonah? He was in the bottom of the boat fast asleep, with not a worry, not an ounce of conscience and happily resting on his laurels.
Was Jonah happy? Not on your life!!
"I Knew This Was Going to Happen!" was all he could say. Jonah was furious. He lost his temper.
God said, "What do you have to be angry about?"
But Jonah just left, going out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter of leafy branches and sat there in the shade to see what would happen to the city.
God arranged for a broad-leafed tree to spring up. It grew over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry sulk. Jonah was pleased and enjoyed the shade. Life was looking up.
But then God sent a worm. By dawn of the next day, the worm had bored into the shade tree and it withered away. The sun came up and God sent a hot, blistering wind from the east. The sun beat down on Jonah's head and he started to faint. He prayed to die: "I'm better off dead!"
Then God said to Jonah, "What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?" Jonah said, "Plenty of right. It's made me angry enough to die!"
God said, "What's this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can't I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don't yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?"
Isn’t it amazing how God uses a whale and a plant to show his mercy? He is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance.
Jesus referred to the story of Jonah saying that even so, he (Jesus would spend three days in the grave but would rise again so that we as a people could receive eternal LIFE.
God spared Jonah and yet He spared NOT His own son so that death could be swallowed up in victory for all who believe and receive.
Portions of the story are taken from the Message Bible.