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Our selfishness towards God’s unlimited compassion (2)


However, two theories could possibly be inferred from the action of Jonah: (1) Jonah did not want the people of Nineveh to enjoy God’s compassion, hence he preferred that God’s anger should come upon them; (2) Jonah knew his going to Nineveh would be an effort in futility, for God will eventually forgive them (this he himself asserted in Chapter 3:1-2).

Irrespective of any of the theories that are applicable to Jonah’s real mind, it was still evident that human beings think only of themselves, and bother less about what happens to others.

This type of attitude is ungodly, it is self-centredness, and could be an albatross to our own progress as well.


Meanwhile, after God had showed His power to Jonah for his disobedience, he finally went to Nineveh and warned the people. The manner he warned them portrayed him as a man that had concluded that nothing would save them from being destroyed in the next forty days. Hear him: ‘….yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (3:4).

Yet, this is a city of sixty thousand people (4:11). This is in contrast with that of Abraham, when he pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah, if ten righteous people could be found in the city.

This was even after he had pleaded from fifty persons he thought could be found, who were righteous (Genesis 18:16-33).

God’s great compassion

However, contrary to Jonah’s anticipation, the people of Nineveh, starting from their king, proclaimed a fast, and cried mightily to God. This was not because they were very certain that they would be forgiven, but to at least show remorse, whilst awaiting God’s final decision.

In the king’s words in Chapter 3:8-9 “but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger that we perish not”? Of course, God heard their cries and forgave the people of Nineveh (3:10), but to Jonah’s displeasure (4:1).

Jonah’s selfishness exposed

Jonah, who was himself saved from destruction, for committing the sin of disobedience, reacted angrily to God’s compassion for the people of Nineveh. He challenged God to see his justification for not obeying His instruction in the first instance.

Jonah did not only stop there, he pleaded with God to take his life, for he could not see any justifiable reason the people of Nineveh should be forgiven, as he thought: ‘they made him suffer’ in the hand of God (4:2-3).

The most shocking was when Jonah went from Nineveh and sat somewhere in anticipation of what would become of the city (4:5). This made God to test him with little discomfort, and his reaction depicted that of a man, who wanted pains for sixty thousand people, but wanted comfort for himself (4:6-11).

Many of us have the same mind as the one Jonah displayed. We wish ourselves well, but inside our mind, others should perish. We are always happy that our fellow humans are facing tribulation; so long our interest is protected.

We keep thinking and counting the days, when evil will fall on others, when they will lose their jobs, when they will be disgraced, and when their success will come down like a pack of cards.

We benefit from our bosses and leaders’ magnanimity, but we discourage others from enjoying same benefit. We run others down in the presence of our leaders and bosses, so that the leaders may hate them, and for us to monopolise and be the sole beneficiary of the largesse.

How on earth do we think God will listen to our prayers, when we wish evil for others? Our Creator is a compassionate God. He loves not only a few people, but also all, and wants us to come to repentance.

We should learn to pray for others, and whatsoever we wish for ourselves is what we should wish for others. By so doing, God in heaven will grant us all what we desire in life.

Remain permanently under God’s banner!

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