We may try as hard as we like, but we will never be able to get one up on God. It does not matter which theological persuasion you subscribe to … God is always right. I am “reformed” theologically. I am totally convinced that this belief is Biblical and is easily proved as such. Having said that, like all persuasions, even within the “reformed school” there are those who superimpose their rigid take on certain doctrines onto what God says in His Word. Let me give you an example to illustrate my point. Crudely put, “once saved always saved”. God does say that when He gives New Birth to a soul, that soul shall remain saved throughout life on earth and go to heaven when the body dies. Biblically speaking, when God saves a soul it means that soul is regenerate and is slowly being restored to the likeness and image of God. We need this because being born in sin, with a sinful disposition called depravity and living in that state until salvation takes place … the image and likeness of God is seriously tarnished. Of this soul Jesus says proudly and encouragingly:
Jn 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
These verses give the saved soul great comfort, because they ensure and guarantee the eternal security of the saved soul. I hold to this position yet there are those who say because God saves this way, they can live as they please because God will keep them saved eternally. What they forget is God’s sovereign election which includes “repentant proof” of salvation.
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Salvation presupposed holiness and blamelessness in election. From the moment of salvation to the moment of death there is a preparation for heaven. It is a process of holiness making. You cannot remain as you are. There must be changed and that change proves salvation. To grab “once saved, always saved” as the full motto of Christian life without a commitment to holiness means such a soul, although believing good theology, does not run that theology through with its Biblical requirement. Perhaps this was a long introduction but Jonah was like this. He believed God was sovereign in salvation but also believed that God could only save Israel. In other words, his theology excluded the pagan world coming under God’s saving love and grace. Very slowly we have seen the account of Jonah playing out and now in the last two verses we find what God was seeking Jonah, His prophet to learn.
Jnh 4:10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
These two verses followed Jonah’s words in response to God’s question
Jnh 4:9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”
1) Jonah’s concern about himself. Yes, God is saying “concerned about this vine” … a miraculous overnight provision of shade over Jonah’s shelter, which died and withered away overnight by God sending a worm to miraculously removed the vine. This vine, although miraculously provided was created, part of nature and like all trees, bushes, vines and shrubs they have a life span and die and that is the end of them. Although they are living they don’t have life, they are not human, they have no soul. They die and that’s the end of them. Jonah was angry over the death of the vine because it protected him from the harsh Middle Eastern conditions. And God points out to him that he did not plant it, water it or fertilize it. It appeared miraculously … he was delighted … it disappeared miraculously … and he was fuming. On the one side we need to be caring for the planet but we need to understand this planet will burn!
2Pe 3:7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men
2Pe 3:10 The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare
2Pe 3:12 That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
We must look after the planet and we must use what the planet produces wisely … but we need to understand this is not our eternal home. Our concern must be souls! Why was Jonah so selfish?
2) Jonah wanted a selective salvation message, one that suited his personal, self-styled theology. The phrase … more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left … normally referred to the children of a city. This would mean that the total citizenship could have easily been in the region of six hundred thousand if one includes the surrounding villages. This is a huge amount of souls. Then, perhaps God is using “animals” with reference to the vine. Should God destroy the city, not only all these souls but all these animals would be destroyed. Don’t see the animals as “wealth” … see them as a comparison to the vine. Look at God’s answer to His question … Should I not be concerned about that great city? O where in the Bible does it state that salvation is restricted to the Jews! If that were so, all of us who are classed as Gentiles (pagans) have no right to salvation! Consider the following text carefully:
Ge 12:2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Abraham to Israel to the world. What Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1v8 started right there in Genesis 12:3. Jonah ought to have known it. Before we state a belief as to who God ought to save who not, remember:
1 Tim 2:3 God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Although we don’t have Jonah’s written response, we have the Book of Jonah and we can safely say he repented properly … because he would have provided all the Book’s information.
Lord, this is your world. You are King. You can save whoever You want. Thank You for grace. Amen.