‘But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”’ (Jonah 4:1-3)
Jonah had waited for Nineveh to be destroyed, and now God did not overthrow the city at all. He showed mercy instead. This “displeased Jonah exceedingly”! This was exactly what he had foreseen from the beginning, when God had called him to preach against Nineveh. This was exactly why he had run away from his commission. He did not want God to forgive his enemies. He’d rather die than see how the Ninevites received God’s blessing.
Yes, Jonah was grateful that God answered his prayers when he was in distress in the belly of the fish. But He did not want the Lord to answer the prayers of the Ninevites. These people should not share in His grace!
Jonah cried out: God, what you are doing is wrong! I hate your goodness towards others! Offering salvation to such wicked people was too much for Jonah. It did not fit in his theology. But it was not up to Jonah, nor is it up to
us, to decide who ‘qualifies’ for forgiveness, or who should be allowed to join the church. God Himself invites every
single human to repent and to come to Him. It was not Jesus’ mission to call the righteous, but sinners (see Matthew 9:13).
Are there people you would rather not invite to church? If so, think about why it is difficult for you that God loves them just as much as He loves you.