Many of us, have felt several emotions this past week due to the outcome of the Presidential election. Four years ago, America seemed to have received a second chance from God when Donald Trump was elected…a chance at turning our country back to its roots and foundation of faith. We came to terms with the fact that, though he was far from perfect, President Trump was the right person for the job. Now that job is likely to go to someone else. There seems to have been some shenanigans among the vote counters and others that led to this conclusion, so the true outcome is yet to be known.
While we wait, I wondered what message God could have for us that will prepare us for the next four years. I think I found the answer in the book of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet whom God had called to go and preach to the city of Nineveh… because their wickedness was being put before God. Now Jonah knew that the people of Nineveh were evil and if it continued God would have no choice but to destroy this city of over 120,000 people.
Jonah had no interest in seeing this evil city being spared, so instead of following God’s call, he headed in the opposite direction of Tarshish. He boarded a ship and was sleeping when a storm came up. The sailors knew Jonah was fleeing from his God. “What shall we do with you?” they asked him. Everything of any weight had already been thrown overboard in hopes of saving the ship.
“Take me up and cast me into the sea,” Jonah told them. “For I know it is because of me that this storm is upon you.”
They tried again to sail on, but finally gave up and did as Jonah said and threw him into the raging waters of the sea. The raging stopped for the sailors and God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah up. He was in the belly of the fish for three days. He described the experience this way in Jonah 2: 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6…yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, o Lord, my God.
He vowed to do as he had been called and realized in verse 9: Salvation is of the Lord. The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out onto the dry land. Once again, the Lord told him to go into Nineveh and preach to the people. Nineveh was a three-day journey away and after a day’s travel, Jonah cried, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” This was his own prediction however, and not from God.
The King of Nineveh listened to the preaching of Jonah and insisted the people do as he said. God saw them turn from their evil ways and was pleased, He decided not to destroy the city after all…but Jonah was far from pleased. In fact, he was exceedingly angry. He said to God, “Didn’t I say this would happen? That’s why I fled to Tarshish, for I knew you are a gracious God; merciful and slow to anger…I knew you would repent of the evil. (toward Nineveh) So now, O Lord, just take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Then said the Lord, “Doest thou well to be angry?”
Jonah then went out to the east side of the city, made him a shelter and sat in the shadow of it so he could see what would become of Neneveh. The Lord prepared a gourd to come up over Jonah to give a shade for his head. Jonah was exceedingly glad to have this shade. But when the morning came, God prepared a worm and it damaged the gourd and it withered. Then He sent a vicious east wind and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he fainted…once again he wished he could just die.
God said to him, “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?”
Jonah replied, “I do well to be angry, even unto death!”
Then the Lord said, “You had pity on the plant for which you didn’t labor or make to grow; which came up in a night and perished in a night…and should I not spare Nineveh, that great city of more than 120,000 people that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand?”
I have read this last part of Jonah over and over and tried to find the exact lesson God teaches. I understand why Jonah might be angry if perhaps the people of Neneveh had mistreated him in the past. Evidently, he felt the city did not deserve to be saved. But why did God send the shade then send the worm to destroy it? Jonah was glad for the shade, then angry enough to die when it was taken away…in fact, Jonah was angry through the entire story…mostly at God. Herein lies the problem. God is a personal God, but that doesn’t mean He cares for only me, only you…or only Jonah.
God points out that, though Jonah can have compassion on a plant he had nothing to do with, he is angry that God had compassion on the people of Nineveh…people that God created and had every right to care about. The lesson here is on compassion…caring for others more than ourselves. God is just that…God. A friend, yes…but still to be reverenced and honored above all. He loves all the people of the world… and to protect them or not is up to Him. Our emotions change from minute to minute, but God’s love is constant.
Let’s look at the anger (caused by politics) in our country. The Democrats have been angry at the Republicans because of our President. They could never accept the fact that he was fairly elected without interference from Russia or some kind of voter fraud…Now the Republicans are angry that he has not been re-elected and voicing the same concerns.
What has been God’s concern in the middle of all this anger…that one side wins and the other loses? Of course not! He has an interest only in His people who are called by His name and whether or not we turn from our evil ways. He wants us to seek his face and pray…not just for our country but for each other. He wants us to replace our anger with compassion.
Many places in God’s Word we are told that certain events took place in order that scripture or prophesy concerning God’s plans might be fulfilled. Perhaps what is happening now in our country is such an event. We have to remember, and be thankful, that we are not being led by a President or a King…we are led by a perfect God with a perfect plan that always is as Jonah said: kind, gracious, merciful, slow to anger and willing to forgive when we are truly repentant. Forgiveness is another lesson Jonah…and many of us need. The last commandment Jesus left us… John 13:34…love one another as I have loved you.
May we stop looking at each other as Democrats or Republicans, but as brothers and sisters in Christ… who all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. How would we answer God’s question today: Doest thou well to be angry?