Summary: God sees behind our facade and does what He knows is right.
Patron saint of the disgruntled Jonah 4
Here we have a prophet but he’s more than just a prophet. Jonah has the gift of an evangelist. He preaches and people get right with God. We don’t know too much about his ministry prior to Ninevah and we know nothing about what he did afterwards but when he preached in Ninevah everyone from the beggar on the street to the king in the palace responded. Over half a million people were ushered into the kingdom during a three day walk through the city.
Can you imagine the excitement of having God use you to impact the lives of a half a million people? In 2 Peter 1:10-11, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Here we have a picture of those who arrive in heaven as being greeted by the very ones they encouraged to either accept Christ or helped along the way.
Imagine what’s going to happen with Jonah. A half a million people would be waiting to thank him for being a faithful preacher of the word of God. And yet there’s a problem isn’t there. Jonah doesn’t want their gratitude. As a matter of fact, if it was up to him everyone of them would be in hell. He didn’t like these people before he went to Ninevah and if you read chapter four carefully you find that he didn’t care for them afterwards either. Jonah had a hard heart. He was a joyless, hard-hearted believer. And yet he was affective in the ministry.
Why did God use him? Romans 11:29 says, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Which is another way of saying they are irrevocable. When God calls us to do something and gives us the gifts that go along with the office He doesn’t take them away if we don’t live up to His expectations. That’s why I think some of these people on TV who are bleeding people to death for money are still reaching people for the Lord. They have the calling and the gifts but they often take advantage of their audience.
God also used him to demonstrate His grace. God’s dealing with Jonah demonstrates the extent of His love in His patience and longsuffering. God not only saves us from our sin but goes to great extremes to work in the hearts of those He saves. He accepts us just the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us that way. In His grace He uses a rebel that deserved to be left in the belly of the whale and gave him a second chance to be used. We see the same thing in the New Testament with Peter. He publicly denied the Lord before the unsaved but the Lord publicly restored him before the saved. Then there’s Mark who left Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. At the end of his days Paul would write in 2 Timothy 4:11, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." In spite of his failure God used him in the end.
So, God used him because he created him for that very purpose and He used him as a demonstration of His grace. I think He also used him to show how the message is more powerful than the one who preaches it. Listen to what Paul says in Philippians 1:15-18, "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." Paul says I don’t care if they’re preaching for money or fame as long as the gospel is preached.