Would you be upset if when you get to heaven you would find Hitler there? Or what if you get to heaven you would find Osama bin Laden? Or what if we get to heaven and we see people there who have hurt us badly, who have not lived their lives on this earth in a way that you would think might give them an opportunity to ever get into heaven? Jonah was furious. “Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?” He ran away from God because he did not want the people of Nineveh to hear the Gospel and then repent and then be saved. They did not deserve to be saved. There is no place in heaven for Stalin, or for anyone who was a tyrant and an architect of genocide on this earth. Isn’t there a special place in hell for all of them? Jonah was sure there was a special place in hell for the Nineveties, after all, they deserved it.
But they were saved and Jonah was furious. He went up to see the destruction of the city and fully expected God to act in a way that would have been just in our eyes. God did not. God repented, or changed his mind, or whatever you want to say, God did not destroy the Ninevites. We end the book of Jonah with God teaching him a lesson about the clay and the potter. We end the book of Jonah with God teaching him a lesson about creator and creature. We end the book of Jonah with God teaching him a lesson on providence and subject. We end the book of Jonah hopefully convicted for each of those times that we spoke about someone in light of them not deserving any of the grace of God that we receive from God. Surely they don’t deserve to have the same blessings that we have, after all, look at them. Look at us, we are the most of the undeserving.
It is one of my favorite books of the Bible because I often experience those who feel as if they deserve the grace of God over and above others in this nation. But the reality is that none of us deserve it, so whatever any of us gets, is bonus. I can also identify with a prophet of God who doesn’t always feel that what they have been tasked to do is exactly what they had in mind. It helps me to resist any thought of running away from where God has placed me.