“They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (Deuteronomy 32:21)
Centuries before Jonah’s time, when the Israelites were about to enter the land that God had promised them, the Lord said something striking about His relationship with the Israelites. God knew that they were “a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness”. He told them clearly that their disobedience and stubbornness would lead to judgment. God would hide His face from them because of their provocations. But then there is verse 21, where the Lord explains what He will do when the Israelites won’t listen: He won’t just leave them forever, but He will “make them jealous” like a husband who sees that his wife is dating another man. I think the story about the Ninevites is an
example of that ‘strategy’.
The Israelites had a special covenant relationship with God, but they had left Him and served idols instead. God had
punished them, He had blessed them, He had announced their downfall… but they did not turn back to Him. Now He was gracious towards their worst enemy. God said, as it were, “Look how good I am, and remember that I offered you the same! Come back!” Would that make the Israelites jealous, and make them long for God’s renewed blessing for them too?
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