Saturday 11th 2020 July Jonah 10
But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’
Having heard Jonah’s repeated request to die, God again responds with a question asking Jonah to reflect. The question presumably refers to the demise of the bush and this time Jonah answers God but only to insist that he is justified to feel as he does.
The covenant God then poses a final question to Jonah, which of course is really directed at us, the readers of this story. A contrast is drawn between a wild plant that has a fleeting existence and the inhabitants of Nineveh - not forgetting the animals. It’s a rhetorical question that prompts us to think about God’s relationship with everything in creation – from a fairly insignificant plant to a huge populated area - and what that reveals about God’s nature. It also challenges us to reflect on what is expected of us, as God’s people, in our attitudes.
The point is; why do we feel compassion towards small things for which we have no responsibility? God, on the other hand, brought everything into being; therefore we should expect God to have equal compassion towards everything. Nineveh’s way of life was the result of ignorance, not culpability. Jonah had completely misunderstood his commission from God. He wasn’t being sent to Nineveh in order to condemn it but to let its people know about God and of God’s love for them. His message was intended to be a call for Nineveh to repent and receive the good news.
In the story Nineveh has repented but sadly the people still haven’t heard anything about the true God because Jonah hasn’t told them. They remain in ignorance.
So where does this leave you? – and me? Do people still live in ignorance? May we be ready to go among them with an invitation to discover new life in Christ.
Amazing God, your compassion reaches to the ends of the earth and you invite us to show that same compassion towards all that has existence.
Help us to respond with joy to your invitation and send us out to the people and places that still need to hear about your love for them.
Challenge us to catch the vision of your kingdom come on earth; and in this hope to go in the name of Christ. Amen