Summary: God loves everyone...including our enemies.
Big Idea #1: Whoever and wherever you are, God’s love is pursuing you.
(1) God’s love pursues those who are against Him (like the people of Nineveh).
(2) God’s love pursues those who are uninterested in Him (like the sailors).
(3) God’s love pursues those who are disobedient to Him (like Jonah).
Big Idea #2: God desires mercy for sinners, not judgment.
(1) God gives us a warning.
(2) God allows us to respond (rejection or repentance).
(3) God desires to show us mercy.
Jonah’s Anger vs. God’s Love
“You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18b). When God’s anger stopped, Jonah’s anger started.
“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (4:1). Why? See 3:10.
This verse can also be translated, “To Jonah it was a disaster, a great disaster. He became angry.” For Jonah, it is a disaster that the Ninevites have averted a disaster.
“He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish” (4:2a).
“What I said” is literally “my word.” Jonah boldly counters “the word of the LORD” of 1:1. “My word” was correct, claims Jonah, and God’s was ill-advised.
Jonah is focused on himself. “I” or “my” occurs no fewer than nine times in the original.
Big Idea #3: God loves everyone…including our ENEMIES.
Remember: God is HURT by our enemies’ sins more than we are.
“The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6). God weeps over the sinful world.
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (1:1).
1. God’s nature is to LOVE.
“I knew that you are…” (4:2). The sailors (“Maybe,” 1:6) and the Ninevites (“Who knows?” 3:9) hoped what Jonah had known all along: God is love.
a. He is “GRACIOUS.”
b. He is “COMPASSIONATE.”
The primary meaning of this word is “to be soft like a womb.” It is illustrated in the soft compassion of a mother for her child in the womb.
c. He is “SLOW TO ANGER.”
The Hebrew expression means “forbear, continue long, be patient, postpone anger, tarry long.”
The implications of such a God: It means that evil will endure longer on the earth, for God is slow to anger.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
d. He is “ABOUNDING IN LOVE.”
This is the more intense word for love in Hebrew (hesed) and is best understood as God’s “unrelenting love,” which is God’s covenant commitment to His people. With this unrelenting love He binds Himself to His promises to them.
It is translated in modern Hebrew as “grace” but most often in the English Bible as “steadfast love.”
Psalm 136 declares in each of its twenty-six verses that this loyal love of God “endures forever.”
God gave Hosea a marriage metaphor to illustrate this kind of abounding love. Note Hosea 2:19: “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.” He tells Hosea to marry a prostitute and to be faithful to her as an example of God’s faithfulness to a faithless people: “The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is love by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes’” (Hosea 3:1).
The nearest equivalent word in the New Testament is agape, translated “unconditional love.”
Both God’s OT “covenant love” and God’s NT agape communicate God’s unrelenting love for the human race.
e. He “RELENTS FROM SENDING CALAMITY.”
“Relents” (naham) is one of the two kinds of God’s compassion in this verse. “Compassionate God” (raham) is a gentle womb-like compassion of God for His good creation; naham is an agonizing compassion of God in relation to a sinful humanity.
“Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (4:3).
“Over my dead body” is Jonah’s reaction to God’s grace.
Jonah’s words echo the prayer of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4: “Take my life.” Instead of continuing “I am no better than my fathers,” Jonah adapts it to “for it is better for me to die than to live.” Elijah, wearied with his endless struggle with idolatry, was convinced that he would not succeed where his fathers had failed, and so felt that it was time to join them in death. Jonah is disappointed with the very success of his mission.