Agonizomai: Jonha 3:5-6 - A Lesson on Grace Begins

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jonha 3:5-6 - A Lesson on Grace Begins
5-6 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 And the LORD God appointed a plant, and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.

Whether Jonah already knew of God’s relenting before the 40 days were up is not clear in this verse. But it seems to me that when Chapter 3:10 says that God relented and did not do what He had said He would do to Nineveh, then the 40 days must have come and gone. Otherwise God would have had to promise not to do what He had said. But it clearly states that He did not do it.

So when Jonah makes a booth and settles down to see what will become of the city is he hoping God will change His mind again? Is he betraying his real motivation right there? Is he hoping Nineveh’s repentance will be a short-lived one, or that at least some chastisement might be visited upon the city, if not a full overthrow? Perhaps something similar to the promised chastisement of David in 2Sa 12:10-14?

We can’t be sure of any of this. But we can be sure that God is teaching Jonah (and us) something about His nature.

The lesson starts when God causes a leafy plant to grow up and give shade to Jonah from the heat of the mid-Eastern sun. It is a mercy. It is grace shown to one not deserving of it. Jonah is glad of it, as we all are when God’s mercy brings some grace into our lives.

My moniker - that's John Hancock to Americans

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