“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:2-4)
As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice. As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if we have prejudice in our hearts that is blocking the love God wants to express through us to the hurting people of our world.
The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth you find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.
Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people or people swallowing whales? Refuse to get sidetracked. Come to the book of Jonah looking for truth. When you find that truth, you will find at the heart of this book, and in the heart of this prophet, a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.
The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation. When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world. If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s own people are hung up on their prejudices?
Did you observe Jonah did not answer God’s last question? To put the best possible spin on this, I would like to think Jonah’s silence this time was because, when Jonah finally saw the truth of God’s love and compassion for even wicked people, he was humbled to silence. That is how the profound truth of the pure and unconditional love and grace of God, when it comes to you directly from God, can impact your life. When your mind and spirit experience a personal revelation of the love and grace of God, which are not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance from us, you will be humbled into a submissive silence.
from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet