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. (Jonah 3:10)
I love Jonah, both the book and the character. The book is a great little story about responding to God’s call and the lengths to which God will go to get us to listen. And the character of Jonah reminds me of the grumpy old man my children tell me I am becoming.
Jonah was a grump. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he didn’t like them. He didn’t want God to give them a second chance because they deserved to be punished. He even got mad at a bush for withering and dying causing Jonah to lose his shade on a hot, desert day. I can almost hear Jonah now, sitting on his porch, yelling at the kids to get off his lawn!
But the character I really love in this story is God.
First, God never gave up on Jonah. Even when Jonah did the opposite of what God asked, going east to Tarshish rather than west to Nineveh, God was with him. On the ship in the great storm that threatened Jonah and the crew, God was with him. In the belly of the great fish? Yep, God was there. No matter how often Jonah turned his back or how far he tried to run, God did not give up on Jonah. Even at the end, when Jonah cursed Nineveh and God and everything, you can sense God’s compassion for that poor grumpy old man.
Second, God never gave up on Nineveh either. Verse 10 above may be my favorite line in all the Bible. “God changed his mind….” You see, God was all set to destroy Nineveh. That was the message Jonah was called to bring. And when he finally got around to half-heartedly proclaiming God’s judgment to Nineveh, the people of Nineveh and the king of Nineveh and even the livestock of Nineveh all repented and changed their ways. And when they did, God changed too. How great is that!
This is the God I believe in. A God who is with us, no matter what. A God who never gives up on us, no matter what. A God who will love us, no matter what. Even a grumpy old man like me.