And he prayed unto the Lord , and said, I pray thee, O Lord , was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. – Jonah 4:2 KJV
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Though no specific actions of the Assyrians were mentioned in the bible, what is clear is that Jehovah deemed their conduct as wicked and had decided to overturn the capital city of Nineveh – Jonah 1:2. His decision to send Jonah, who was his prophet, a teacher and evangelist to the Israelites in captivity in Nineveh, to inform them of this intention of his, seemed not to have gone down well with Jonah. This is probably because was convinced that they deserved such treatment from Jehovah and so did not see any reason why they should be alerted about such divine plans. As implied from the scriptures, he doubted if Jehovah would still implement His plans should the people decide to repent – Jonah 4:2. That will definitely not make him happy.
Whatever his reason may be for disobedience, Jehovah did not take his decision to travel to Joppa instead of Nineveh lightly as He promptly arranged for a fish to swallow him up after his co-travellers had been left with no choice than to dump him into the sea, to avoid all of them drowning – Jonah 1:3-17. It was while in this fish that he realized his errors and pleaded with Jehovah for forgiveness, which he got and Jehovah instructed the fish drop him off on dry land – Jonah 2:1-10.
He eventually delivered the message and in a very surprising move, the idol worshipping Assyrians and their king believed the message and promptly arranged for a fast that included all living things accompanied by every necessary act, all aimed at seeking forgiveness, and this they got from Jehovah, who as noted in the scriptures, acknowledged the sincerity of their pleas for forgiveness and decided not to destroy their city as He had earlier planned to do – Jonah 3:1-10.
This was never going to go down well with Jonah, who with his people must have been looking forward to Jehovah avenging, on their behalf, all the wicked acts of the Assyrians. He had taken a vantage position under a shade in a shelter that he had built at a location outside the city, to the east, hoping to witness the great destruction of the oppressive Ninevites, only for Jehovah to stop His plan in this direction – Jonah 4:1, 5. The scripture for today’s Devotional is the expression of dissatisfaction by Jonah, with that decision by Jehovah to forgive the Assyrians. In that statement,
- He attempted to justify his initial reluctance not to deliver the message of Jehovah – Jonah 4:2a. According to Him, he had always known that Jehovah was a gracious and merciful God. This confirmed earlier suspicion of the reason behind his initial reluctance to communicate the message to the Ninevites as he was aware that Jehovah will change His mind once the people take the step that they eventually took, and he was not willing to provide them that opportunity.
- He knew that Jehovah does not get angry easily and even when he does, he is of great kindness – Jonah 4:2b. This perception of Jehovah was also shared by the Psalmist who stated that Jehovah is slow to anger and is full of mercy – Psa. 145:8.
- Jonah acknowledged that Jehovah is always ready to change His mind with regards to inflicting evil on the disobedient once such genuinely repents – Jonah 4:2c. This confirms the position of the Prophet Ezekiel that Jehovah does not want the death of a sinner – Eze. 33:11.
Jehovah noticed his anger, and using his expression of anger at the sudden withering of a tree, whose origin he did not know, but which had provided shade for him as an example, He made him realize that he had invested so much on man including the one hundred and twenty thousand ignorant residents and other living things in Nineveh, which should be sufficient reason for him not to be quick to want to destroy such efforts of His because of sin, especially if they are ignorant of what they are doing and are willing to genuinely repent once they are made to see their errors – Jonah 4:6-10.
As far as Jonah was concerned, one hundred and twenty ignorant people can die just so that the oppression of his people by them can be avenged, more so, such action by Jehovah will protect his image and save him from being considered as a fake or false prophet because of the unfulfilled prophecy. All these, he desired without consideration for how their creator felt. That their actions was the result of ignorance meant nothing to him as long as his double objectives stated above were achieved. He just wanted to achieve his objectives not minding the cost but as long as it was not going to be hurting to him.
Most Christians today actually behave like Jonah in presenting pleas and requests to Jehovah. In the desperation to have Jehovah grant such requests, especially those that will status enhancing, the Christian does not give consideration to the effect of such demands, if granted, on other creatures of Jehovah and more importantly, on the emotion of Jehovah Himself. All the Christian desires remains the focus but Jehovah does not operate in such manner, especially when the intention behind the demand is simply for reasons of ego massaging. There is simply no way Jehovah will grant such requests and the earlier Christians realise this, the better for them.
Just as in the case of Jonah, that desire to have vengeance on that supposed oppressor and for which you seek the support of Jehovah, may never be granted as that oppressor may have been implementing the plan of Jehovah or may have acknowledged such errors and sought forgiveness. The grace enjoyed by such may truly not be in your favour, but that will never make Jehovah grant such requests no matter how dear you may be to Him. His intention for allowing such oppressive events to happen must be met which is His desire to have the Christian return to Him and until that is done, the challenging situation may not abate, if anything, it may actually exacerbate.
Jehovah is for all those who are willing to come to Him as He it is that created all and His main intention is to bring all back to Himself. You may have returned earlier than others but in no way does that imply that you can get away with those selfish intentions. All intentions must not just be fulfilled simply because He loves you and you asked for it. Yes! It may be to your advantage but you must ask yourself whether it is of advantage to Jehovah and your neighbour. Should it fail any of the above tests, then you can be sure that it will never be granted because the world and all that is in it were not made simply for your satisfaction.
It is not going to be only about how you see it or how it affects you, but more about how it affects the balance of nature and more importantly how it affects Jehovah. Present your requests to Jehovah and let Him be the one to determine the appropriate solution. Telling Him how He should react to that situation by stringing together those words that you call Prayer Request will remain self deception as He will never grant any request that will hurt the world or Himself. Always consider how all those requests will affect Jehovah and other living beings before making them and you will be assured of His support in bringing them to reality. May we all have a caring heart sufficient to consider others when presenting our requests to Jehovah so we do not become frustrated die to unanswered prayers in Jesus name. Amen.