As we have noted before, the end of a book leaves quite an impression. It is often the part of the book that is remembered best. In the case of the book of Jonah, there is a sad conclusion just after one of the greatest revivals in history.
In Jonah 1, Jonah fled on a boat en route to Tarshish from the call of God to go to Nineveh, but the Lord sent a storm that eventually led the sailors on that boat to toss Jonah into the sea. The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. In chapter 2, in the belly of the fish, Jonah seeks the Lord and turns to Him for deliverance. The fish spits Jonah out, and in chapter 3, Jonah finally obeys the call of God as he is restored to his prophetic office. In that chapter, the Lord uses a message of judgment preached by Jonah to bring about the salvation of the people of Nineveh as they turn unto God.
We would expect a prophet to rejoice over such a revival! After all, the prophets were God’s prophets, and the desire of a prophet ought to be God’s honor and for the people to turn to Him. But Jonah does not respond with rejoicing. Jonah 4 details Jonah’s regret over the Lord’s saving the people of Nineveh. The Lord, however, is merciful in His dealings with Jonah.
The book ends on a sad note, in a sense. In another sense, the book ends in a cliffhanger. A cliffhanger ending is that type of ending that is often found in a novel that leaves the reader on the edge of their seat waiting for the next book. Those types of endings are also found in old television show episodes that leave some aspect of its plot unresolved and say, “To be continued…” In the final verse of Jonah 4, the Lord asks Jonah, “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Though we do not know how Jonah responds to this question, the cliffhanger actually involves all of the people of God. How do you respond to this question? Do you have compassion for the lost? What do you value more than the souls of your neighbors? Is it pride, that your sin is not like the sin of your neighbor? Is it your comfort? Perhaps your comfort zones?
Perhaps as you have read through the book of Jonah, you have been convicted. Maybe your life has been like that of the people of Nineveh, having no regard for God and living in opposition to His commands. Maybe you wonder how the Lord could ever receive you. But look at the grace and mercy shown to the people of Nineveh. If you run unto Jesus, you will find in Him a kind and merciful Savior.
Or, maybe you are a Christian who has been struggling with sins similar to that of Jonah. Perhaps pride has clouded your vision and you’ve lacked a zeal for the lost to come to faith. But dear friend, God was merciful to Jonah as well as He was to the people of Nineveh. Go to Jesus in repentance and faith, and you will find that He is faithful still. And if you have not desired the salvation of your neighbors, then pray to the Lord asking Him to change your desires. He is faithful to grow His people in conformity to His image and to keep them to the end.
Join us as we discuss this chapter together for worship this Lord’s Day evening at 5 at The Commons at St. Andrews Church. For directions, click here or contact us for more information. You can also join us on FacebookLive@RiverCityARP or on YouTube.