November 9 I Tuesday
“And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” —Jonah 2:10
Once Jonah was back on dry land again, the Lord spoke to him and said, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you” (Jonah 3:2). This time, Jonah was obedient and went to Nineveh proclaiming God’s message of salvation. As a result of Jonah’s faithfulness to God’s calling, “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:5). In the end, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened” (Jonah 3:10). What reasons to celebrate as the people of Nineveh believed and repented of their ways!
In the New Testament, Luke 15:7 tells us, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.” Like heaven rejoicing, we could imagine that Jonah was pleased with the outcome of his preaching in Nineveh. But for Jonah, this seemed very wrong and he became angry. Jonah raised his grievance to God in prayer, saying, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:2-3).
As a response to Jonah’s prayer, God answered, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4). Why did God ask Jonah that question? God is all-knowing; He does not need to ask questions to get answers for information He already knows. Rather, God asks questions so that we can gain answers about ourselves and know what He already knows. Like with the very first question that God asked in the Scripture to Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9), it was not that God did not know the physical location of Adam. Instead, He used that question to make it super clear to Adam that in disobeying Him by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam’s spiritual connection to God was now broken.
What God was doing by questioning Jonah was to correct him, to show him what was wrong in his life, to teach him what was right and to prepare him for the future. God asks questions so we can learn about ourselves. What is God asking us today?
Prayer: Almighty God, You know all things, and yet, You still ask me questions so that I may gain answers and know what You already know. Help me to discern my own errors. Thank You, God.