Fairy tales often end with the words, “and they all lived happily ever after;” by contrast, real life is most characterized by punctuated events of happiness and sorrow. ‘Feel good’ movies portray real life events so that you leave the theater feeling happy, either at a triumphant victory or realized romance. However reality goes on past the highs of life. In reality, the characters portrayed in the movies’ lives continue past the great high moments of life. Teams go on to play another year; and high and triumphant moments are often followed by losses and sorrow.
If the story of Jonah would just conclude at the end of chapter 3, it could be called the ‘feel good epic of the year.’ What ending could be happier – Jonah is reconciled with God, and a wicked city is turned around – no losers only winners! We can imagine the scene – the music crescendos; a wide angle shot shows the masses of the city as they chant, “Jonah, Jonah Jonah!” The camera zooms in slowly to one man in the crowd, as he lifts his fist in the air and looks up and points up to God, as if to say, “this is Your victory Lord!” as the audience claps and cheers! Let’s end this story and run the credits already! But God is not a sentimentalist. He does not need to manipulate His audiences by requiring a warm, cozy, romantic feeling at the end of the story.
And alas Jonah’s story is a drama of real life – and as such, all do not live happily ever after. Instead Jonah ruins the happy ending by once again demonstrating his depravity, this time by complaining against the extravagant mercy of God demonstrated in His forgiving the wicked but repentant city of Nineveh. A prodigal God outpoured prodigal mercy on an entire city, and they repented and were spared! How much we would give to see revival of this kind in our city!?! Yet in what is the most puzzling plot twist of the whole story, Jonah demonstrates resentment and a temper tantrum; how peculiar!
Chapter 4 of Jonah demonstrates that the book of Jonah is ultimately not about the revival of a nation. The repentance of Nineveh was a subplot to tell a greater story! As unbelievably incredible as the repentance of Nineveh was, chapter 4 turns the focus from this great human event, to the even more incredible mercy of a sovereign God! Had the narrative ended with Jonah’s victory, perhaps Jonah would have been lifted up to be the hero of the story; but instead, the juxtaposition of Jonah’s anger and hatred to God’s mercy and love, contrasts the ugliness of sin and the loveliness of the Savior and sets them in context of an unparalleled outpouring of God’s free sovereign grace upon the Gentiles.
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