The book of Jonah really isn’t about Jonah at all. Have you ever caught on to that idea? Yeah, on the first look, it may look like his story and his disobedience, and his stupidity, etc. But those things are one theme, and they are pretty much a given, summed up in the title. So, that makes them just a tad less important as a more overarching theme that comes up again and again and again in the book. And that theme is, as the title of this post may suggest, God’s Heart. The whole book, really, is about God. Jonah is God’s prophet, God’s messenger, etc. Every moment is Jonah’s life is a work of God. This is very easy to miss. I went for 17 years without knowing this, hearing many sermons on Jonah.
So, let’s take our focus off of Jonah’s story for a moment, and focus on God’s heart.
God’s Heart is against evil and desires that evil to be corrected.
Jonah 1:1-3: In these few verses, we see God call Jonah…”Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” God commissioned Jonah to go, and preach against their evil. But Jonah did not go…he instead “fled from the presence of the Lord.”–God is always with His servants, even in their disobedience.
God’s Heart is a heart of second chances.
Jonah 3:1-3, 6-10: God has now saved the guys on the ship, who saw His power and might (look at Jonah 1:16). God has also now saved Jonah from death in the belly of a whale. Now, He is once again commissioning Jonah to go into Nineveh and preach. Then, after Jonah’s 5-word sermon, the people of Nineveh believe God, and they repent and fast and pray, that God may relent. And God does relent, after He saw “what they did.” The people of Nineveh knew that God didn’t just want repentance & faith, but action. The people fasted and prayed to a God they just met, and they instantly formed a relationship with Him, not just feeling sorry for their evil ways, but “turning from their evil ways.” “And He did not do it (the disaster).”
Well, we know that Jonah’s reaction was not pretty, but God’s heart is given in His response to Jonah.
God’s Heart is for people. All people. Even the enemies.
Jonah 4: Jonah got so angry, because his enemies just got saved, not destroyed! He knows (because of the prophet Amos, a couple of books back) that Assyria is about to attack his country, so he is not happy. But God just had lots of people come to know who He is…not as a big mean God, who was about to kill them all, but as a God of second chances, who relented of the disaster, and saved these people. Jonah HATES this. He calls God’s actions (which stem from God’s heart, therefore Jonah is calling God’s heart…) EVIL. But this is just who our God is. A God who desires relationship with us. A God who loves people. God makes this plant grow, to give Jonah an example of His love for people. When this plant dies, Jonah gets kinda close to compassion, which quickly turns to anger. And God says, “You pity this plant? I made all the people of Nineveh for My glory, so that I may have a relationship with them. There are over 120,000 people who were spiritually dead. Oh, and there are cattle too, so that maybe you’ll care, since you seem to like things without souls a bit better… Should I not be concerned with these people, whom I love?” (my paraphrase)
This is the main theme of Jonah: the main part of God’s heart is how He just loves people. Jonah missed this. The reason why God wanted Jonah to go to these people is that they might know Him. The reason why God got Jonah there, through many different circumstances, is for God to be known in that people. That is God’s heart….that people may know Him, to the glory of His name. That is why Jesus’ lasts words were for us to make disciples. Because that is God’s purpose. God started this in creating Adam and Eve. Then He called Abraham, to be a blessing to the nations. Israel was to be a people set apart to show God’s heart to the nations through everything that they did. We, as Christ followers, are apart of that same plan. We are apart of showing His heart to the whole world.
Well, the question is, are we?
Next: Jonah: The Application–Our Response. I’ve kinda touched on that already, but I’m gonna use some sermon notes on which way we our running.