“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)
Jonah understood that God loves wicked people. Indeed, our text verse tells us that this was the very reason he ran away from God! Jonah wanted God to destroy the sinful people of Nineveh and feared that God might forgive them if they repented. Ironically, Jonah acted wickedly by disobeying God’s command to preach to the inhabitants because of his lack of compassion for wicked people (Jonah 1:1-3).
Even after Jonah was swallowed by the “great fish” (1:17) and agreed to preach in Nineveh, he still had no love for the city’s cruel inhabitants. As a prophet, Jonah undoubtedly wished to see God’s sinful people of Israel repent and be spared from God’s judgment, but he did not want God’s mercy extended to their enemies. He was furious when God forgave these repentant sinners (4:1). Jonah apparently failed to realize that he needed God’s mercy as much as the people of Nineveh. Praise God that He “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The world is full of wicked people who hate God and His people. God created these sinners in His image (Genesis 1:27). Even though they reject Him and His commands, Jesus loves them and wants them to come to Him for salvation. May every Christian be loving enough to tell people the truth: that they have sinned against their holy Creator and incurred His righteous wrath, “but God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).