Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Jonah and Nineveh

We tell our children the story about Jonah and the Whale, but often, the story ends there, with Jonah deciding to trust God and be obedient. To me, it is the rest of the story that is more interesting.

First, I have pious acquaintances who will pronounce “God never changes his mind” and yet . . . here, and in many other places, God relents against a prior judgement. He listens, and he has compassion.

Second, what is this toddler-like behavior when God does not destroy Nineveh? Jonah was rescued from the belly of the great fish/whale, and yet he pouts and is angry when God delivers Nineveh from a fiery destruction? He is downcast when the bush withers?

Third, At the very end, God asks should he not be concerned, when there are so many people, 120,000, who don’t know their right from their left AND MANY ANIMALS. I love it that God is also concerned about the condition of the animals, and shudder to think of the price people will have to pay in the after life who treat an animal with cruelty.

From today’s Lectionary readings:

Jonah 3:1-10,4:1-11

3 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
4But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3 And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ 4 And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ 5 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

6 The Lord God appointed a bush,* and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’

9 But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ 10 Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Charity, Cross Cultural, Interconnected, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Spiritual, Values, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment