Talk about a plot twist! We find out Jonah didn’t run away because he was afraid the Ninevites would reject his message. Rather, he ran away because he was afraid they would accept it.
Jonah should be celebrating God relenting of his plan to destroy Nineveh, but instead loses his temper with God for not destroying Nineveh. Jonah has a hard time understanding why after ignoring God once, he found himself in the belly of a big fish. The Ninevites were atrocious for decades - mercilessly oppressing and murdering thousands of Jonah’s people - and God simply chose to forgive them. In his distress, Jonah pleads, “O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
This is a good reminder that God decides who receives mercy, and not us. “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33, Romans 9).
We don’t extend mercy and love as God does. We forget we are equally “dirty” without Christ, and that God expends equal forgiveness to cleanse each person. God is gracious and compassionate. He doesn’t desire punishment for sin, but repentance from it. This is good news!
Ultimately, God takes Jonah through a series of circumstances to show him that his heart doesn’t fully belong to God.
What is your attitude toward non-believers around you? There is not one sinner God cannot redeem. What are you doing to extend the gospel to the most needy in your town - the homeless, the orphans, the prisoners, the unwed mothers, the high school dropouts, and at-risk kids?