After reading and studying the book of Jonah recently, I’ve seen something I’ve never noticed before. Taking a step back from the book it is perhaps a bit surprising to see two whole chapters worth of attention given to “getting Jonah to Nineveh” and a few verses given to “Jonah activity in Nineveh” and another whole chapter given to Jonah’s response to what “God did in Nineveh.”
That’s 3 chapters given to God dealing with the heart of His rebellious prophet, and 1 chapter given to the work God did through this prophet. What does this mean?
I think this means that though Nineveh met the true and living God and experienced a completely transformed change in life and worldview, the main lesson in the book of Jonah has more to do with God and Jonah, rather than God and Nineveh. Did God therefore call Jonah to Nineveh to reveal to Jonah his own deep-rooted idolatry? Did God call Jonah to Nineveh grow Jonah’s faith and trust in Him? Did God call Jonah to Nineveh so that Nineveh would repent? Or did God call Jonah to Nineveh so the Church would have an example of the kind of work God does in and through His people in a hip, urban city?
I think the answer we’re looking for in all of these questions is a simple “yes.” It’s good for us to see this, because God, in doing His work is an extraordinarily intricate Person. He’s never just up to one thing in the hearts of His people. He was acting through Jonah for Nineveh, He was acting through Nineveh for Jonah, and the result is heart change in both cases. Be encouraged, therefore, and know that when God is up to something it usually has more of a community implication than an individual implication.
God is doing things for your neighbors through your heart.