His Love Knows No Limit!

Jonah 4:1‭-‬11

But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still in my country? That is why I ran to Tarshish, because I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and great in lovingkindness, and [when sinners turn to You] You revoke the [sentence of] disaster [against them].Therefore now, O Lord, just take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Then the Lord said, “Do you have a good reason to be angry?”

Then Jonah went out of the city and sat east of it. There he made himself a shelter and sat under its shade so that he could see what would happen in the city. So the Lord God prepared a[a]plant and it grew up over Jonah, to be a shade over his head to spare him from discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about [the protection of] the plant. But God prepared a worm when morning dawned the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God prepared a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he fainted and he wished to die, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have a good reason to be angry about [the loss of] the plant?” And he said, “I have a [very] good reason to be angry, angry enough to die!” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 [innocent] persons, who do not know the differencebetween their right and left hand [and are not yet accountable for sin], as well as many [blameless] animals?”

Wow! Was he truly upset? Yes he was. Why was he upset over what happened? Jonah was on his own when God gave him an immediate instruction that needed to be carried out. The life of Jonah and who he was wasn’t mentioned. God’s ways sometimes are unreasonable. I used the word “unreasonable” because his ways sometimes contradict ours. Take for example Abraham….. He told him to leave his family, friends and relatives to a land He will show him, without a direction or a map of where he was truly going. The bible never said God consulted Abraham against the reason he should leave, he just told him to leave to a land He will show him and He will bless him. That wasn’t a conversation that began with reasoning things like the ups and downs of the journey out. So, Jonah was found in like manner. In chapter one of the book of Jonah, the bible says God told Jonah saying “Arise”. That wasn’t a statement of plea or bargain. It was an order. But why would God give such an opening remark to a man? That’s what we’re about to find out. God’s eyes runs through and fro the earth. He loves His creatures both man and animals. It hurts Him when one of the creatures He created in His image and likeness dies without knowing or having a relationship with Him. After the instruction was given to him, he fled from the face of the Lord. Well, he actually forgot God is omnipresent. If you run from Nigeria to UK He’s still there. If you run from UK to China, He’s still there. The truth is, you can’t run away from Him, you will always run into Him and He’s intentionally waiting to grab you with a warm embrace. 

So, this dude called Jonah fled from God but there should be a tangible reason for that. Don’t you think? Of course there was. He understood and knows that the love of God for His creature is exceedingly great irrespective of their background, or ethnicity. And He might change His mind if the people turn around from doing wrong. He didn’t want to be disappointed after delivering the message so he boarded a ship going to Tarshish. Unfortunately for him, God made the whole arrangement and placed the desire for him to be on that ship. I know this because God’s word declared in proverbs 19: 21 that “Many plans are in a person’s mind but the Lord’s purpose will stand.” He should’ve fled to Damascus or probably Haran , all these options boiled up within him but God gave him Tarshish. And so it was,  that God deviced the desire to flee to Tarshish because it is a shortcut to Nineveh for the submarine He already prepared for him to get to his destination. When he got on that ship, the Lord caused a great storm upon the sea and it looked like the ship will break into pieces. Most times, the storm’s of life might hit us on our way to our destiny and purpose. It could be so intense like that of Jonah that people concluded he was cursed but never knew he was on assignment. Your friends or family may have concluded on you but God has the final say with what concerns you. When they were done with their conclusions, they had to throw him into the sea with his permission. Before he  could get to the bottom of the sea, his ride was ready to take him to his destination. He spent three days in the belly of his ride. Well God provided a great fish to swallow him. While he was in the belly of the fish, he came to a conclusion to do what God told him to do, that was when the fish vomited him or I’ll say dropped him off at his point of duty.

When he got to Nineveh, God had to remind him again to go warn the people of Nineveh. He obeyed and went into the city. Unfortunately for him, the city was so ambiguous that it took him three days to finish his declaration. He declared unto them saying “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be overthrown” in other words, “Forty days from now, God will destroy this city and everyone in it man and animals”. But something changed in their hearts when they heard the words of Jonah. They believed God, declared a fast on everyone both young and old and turned from doing wrong immediately. Even their ruler the king did thesame by stripping himself of his robe and covered himself with mourning clothes. He even extended the fast to the animals.  He felt maybe if they all do this and turn from doing wrong perhaps God might have mercy on them. You see, repentance is not just an act, it also involves declaration. When you stretch your hands to God in declaration by saying you cant help yourself and you need His gracious hand to hold yours, he holds your hand and never let go because He knows one of His child is returning to Him. That’s why there’s joy in heaven for the return of a child to His father (God). God who gave the message to Jonah changed His mind while the one who delivered the message was angry on why He would do such a thing. He was grieved within him because God just spared an entire city and made him look like a false prophet. He was exceedingly displeased at the goodness of God over a repentant city. I’m shocked at the attitude of Jonah who was vexed at God showing mercy to a city full of thousands of people when three days ago he received mercy from God after he disobeyed Him. One would’ve thought Jonah would rejoice over the repentance of the Ninevites and it would’ve warmed his heart to know that these people are receiving Grace and mercy he received three days ago and that should’ve made him rejoiced that souls are being saved rather than care about his honour which he thought was at stake.

He was so upset that he wanted God to take his life. He knows the personality of God is Love and also knows when people repent from their wrong doing, God always and swiftly forgives them. He knew God is slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. This is who He is. He’s no respecterof persons. If we were to be fair in a way, we could say God will respect His prophet and just deal with the Ninevites mercilessly. Sometimes we want God to punish that person oppressing us at work,  that neighbour causing you trouble with no just course, that man or woman who orchestrated your sack letter which oed to lossing your job,  or better still take them out of our way and when that same person gives his/her life to Christ, like Jonah we become upset over it. We want to direct God on how to treat His own creature. It’s funny though. I believe God shakes His head at some of our actions and thoughts. The funny thing about this story is that Jonah left the city, got a shelter for himself and was waiting to see if God will change His mind. I mean can you believe that? How can a prophet who is supposed to be glad that God had mercy on a whole city not a single person be so eager to see the downfall of a nation or rather to see the judgment of God fall on a nation? He was still expecting to see what will happen simply because he doesn’t want his reputation to be thwarted. He actually forgot the message was not to please him but to please the one who sent him. Even in that disgusting attitude of his, God still made him shelter to shade him and gave him comfort. This made Jonah so happy that very day. He actually waited till the next day hoping to see what God will do against Nineveh. How anticipating he was, what a hop!. But n the morning God caused a worm to attack the plant He gave him for shelter and it died, the Sun came hitting on his head and he started to faint. These got him even more upset and asked again for God to take his life because it is better for him to die than to live. We humans are very quick to speak horrible words when things are going against us. Like “God, what the heck is going on in my life? I am tired of these whole mess  that’s greater than I can bear, it is better I die than live and go through these mess.” I’ll zero-in on the word “go through” and that’s the reason most of us are still alive today. That was the word God in His Grace held on to. Because you said you’re going through it and not remain in it. So, you can’t die when you’re still on the journey. And when you go through something, you should know that there’s  an exit point for you.

Now here comes the lovely conversation between God and Jonah and also the summary of the story. God asked Jonah “Do you have a tangible reason to be so upset about the plant you didn’t laboured for?” And he replied saying “I have a good reason to be upset and even angry and I’d love to die!” Then God in His mercy and love had to make him understand by saying ” You had so much compassion for this plant you never planted let alone watered it to grow which I gave you overnight for shelter and now it’s no more.” Tell me Jonah, why i shouldn’t have compassion on Nineveh, the great city that has more than 120,000 people who are innocent, not knowing their right hand from their left, whose worth is more than the plant you were bitter about as well as the animals who are also without fault? From the onset of this beautiful story we can see how compassionate God is. He’s not that wicked, terrible, killer, the one waiting to throw stones at you when you err, the one with the gun ready to shoot you or the one who play the blame game. He even thinks the animals are blameless. How much more the ones He created in His image and likeness? Jonah made an outstanding statement he said “I know you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and great in lovingkindness, and when sinners come to You you revoke the disaster against them.” This is who He is. He won’t change from being that because of you. No matter what men tag Him to be, He never changes, yesterday, today and forever. God Loves you so much even before He sent His Son to come pay the debt for our sins, He already showcased who He is. A father who loves his children dearly. Theres nothing wrong in fact all is right in having such a man as a father and humbly asking to receive His fatherly love and to greatly embrace Him to be a son or a daughter.

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