It was a three day walk. A journey he dreaded, but was compelled to still make. What choice did he have? His "no" and runaway attempt had landed him in the vilest place in the sea. Three days in the depth of the digestive system of the great fish, and Jonah reluctantly agreed to obey the Lord.
Ninevah was now about a hundred more yards ahead, and Jonah remained grumpy about his God-given assignment. He quickened his pace as he approached the city.
"The sooner I get this over with, the sooner I can get out of this forsaken city," Jonah thought.
"In forty days your city will be overtaken, " Jonah proclaimed continuously in the streets for the next twenty-four hours.
As the new day approached, Jonah noticed the people flocking into the streets. They were dressed in sackcloth. They were weeping and shouting, "Dress in sack clothes. Seek forgiveness from the Lord."
"What are you doing?" Jonah asked a young man passing by.
"The king has given his orders. He is hoping your God will not bring the punishment we deserve if we seek forgiveness," the young man answered.
"Well that just figures," Jonah said, tightening his lips and squinting his eyes. He stomped through the crowds to find a place away from their repenting. Yes, indeed the Lord was once again faithful. The Lord did remove His coming judgment from the city of Ninevah because of their change of heart.
"I knew that you were going to do this, Lord," Jonah mumbled as he went east of the city and built a place of shade to sit under. "Oh just let me die, Lord, for certainly death is better for me then living."
As Jonah sat pouting, a plant miraculously grew around him. It provided protection from the sun and the heat. Jonah leaned his head back as a smile began to form upon his face. Jonah spent the night sleeping with a sense of peace that he had not had in quite some time.
As morning light beamed through cracks of the plant, Jonah awoke to the sound of chewing. The plant was infested with worms and began to collapse around him. Jonah darted out from beneath the plant as it fell all around him. The sand assaulted his face as he gasped to catch his breath against the blazing heat causing his mouth to quickly dry up. Jonah cried out to the Lord, "I told you I would be better dead then alive."
"Jonah, are you listening to yourself? You are more upset about this plant then the 120,000 lives that would have been lost in Ninevah yesterday."
Placing his hand on his hip, Jonah rolled his eyes and said, "These people are so wicked. I told you when I was running to Tarshish that you would not destroy them if I came here. I knew if I told them about your coming judgment for their sin they would repent."
"Jonah, Jonah, Jonah. That is the point. It would have been nice if you had told these people with the right attitude, but despite your attitude, truth is still truth. You, my child, still need to understand the heart of true compassion. You took more pleasure in this plant, then the lives saved yesterday."
Jonah hung his head. He did not want to talk to the Lord anymore today. He walked away sadly thinking, "Why would the Lord use me to tell the good news to these people when he knew my heart was still not in the right place?" Jonah knew Ninevah had been saved because of the power of the message and not because of who the messenger had been.
(Jonah 1-4; Romans 10:17)
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