God said, “What do you have to be angry about?”
Jonah could have made a list of the things he was angry about. He was a prophet and being asked to do the unthinkable – take God’s grace to the Israelites worst enemy. He was angry that the Ninevites might repent and God would spare them the judgment they had coming. They were ugly, vicious enemies of the Israelites. They were cruel and apparently boasted of their cruelty on their monuments, some of these monuments exists today in museums and here is a partial list of things they boasted about:
“I cut off their heads and formed them into pillars”
“I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins”
“Many within the border of my own land I flayed, and spread their skins upon the walls”
“I cut off the limbs of the officers, the royal officers who had rebelled”
“3,000 captives I burned with fire”
“Their corpses I formed into pillars”
“From son I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from other I cut off their noses, their ears, and their fingers, of many I put out their eyes”
“I made one pillar of the living, and another of heads, I bound their heads to posts round about the city” *
Many of these atrocities would have been done against the people Jonah lived among. Oh yes, Jonah had reasons to be angry. But when told to go to Ninevah and warn them to repent or God would destroy them, Jonah said no. The last thing Jonah wanted was for God to forgive these enemies and relent on His plans to destroy them.
I have been there. I can relate to Jonah; been so angry with someone for so long that his salvation no longer mattered to me. Maybe even in my darkest moments of anger I might have wished God’s judgment on him. Oh, in my defense, I didn’t get there overnight; no it took years, as it no doubt did with Jonah. I can make a list of wrongs done to me that would make anyone angry. I could justify my anger, but that didn’t make it right, at least not in God’s eyes. Like Jonah, I don’t believe I saw the depth of my anger until God exposed to me my unwillingness to pass on to this person the love, forgiveness, mercy and compassion that God had so freely given me. Unlike Jonah, I did repent and while I would like to say it changed the person I was so angry with, it didn’t. It changed me.
I continually have the choice – wallow in my anger, keep the list of wrongs done to me forever in my remembrance, withhold grace to someone in need, or I can purpose to let the anger go. I’m not saying it is easy, it’s not, but it is a choice – my anger or God’s righteousness. Which would you choose?
* this from James Montgomery Boice
pic credit 1: slbc2u.org
pic credit 2: amazon.com