How to Look at People with God's Eyes
Living God's love for the lost.
You may remember that in Jonah 3 there was this great revival in Nineveh. And usually when there's revival there's also great joy in the place where revival takes place. In Psalm 85:6 it says "Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?" And if God uses a preacher as the agent of revival, you would expect him to be the happiest because God has used him. It brings deep joy to be God's chosen vessel for a special task, and so that's what you would expect. But chapter 4:1 in Jonah starts with a "but"— "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry."
You would expect Jonah to be happy, but the instrument that God used is unhappy. And see what he does in verse 2: "And he prayed to the Lord." Well, at least we can credit him for that. He was able to go to God with his anger. In the Bible very often you find God's people complaining to him, and the complaint is not glorified, is not justified. Often there's a rebuke to the complainer, though usually it's a gentle rebuke.
It's foolish to doubt God's wisdom and sovereignty. But we are weak people and we do that sometimes. And if we do, the best thing to do would be to face up to the reality of the doubt and go to God with the problem. That's what Moses did when he couldn't handle the pressure of leading his people. That's what Jeremiah did when he was struggling with loneliness. That's what Asaph did in Psalm 73 as he was contemplating the fact that he had been faithful and not doing well in life, whereas these wicked people were prospering. Now Jonah is doing the same thing. As always God ministers to these bewildered people. And often deep truths emerge from this complaint that comes from God's servant, and that happens in this passage, ...
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Ajith Fernando is the Teaching Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka and author of Reclaiming Love (Zondervan).