“For I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”- Jonah 4:2
John Ortberg concludes Chapter 8 of All the Places to Go by noting something about Jonah’s prayer (Jonah 4) that would have been very apparent to its Old Testament readers. In Jonah 4:2, Jonah is quoting Exodus 34:6, where God speaks to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In Pastor Ortberg’s translation of the verse, he states that Jonah leaves out the word truth (of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness).
By doing so, John asserts, Jonah is impugning God’s character- in effect saying that God is unreliable. Pastor Ortberg adds: “I will never trust God to go through open doors if I think he is unfaithful.” God responds to Jonah’s displeasure and anger by asking Jonah if his anger is justified. Jonah gives God the silent treatment and again runs away to the east of Nineveh- waiting for God to blast the city.
God then proceeds to provide shade to Jonah in the form of a plant, meaning that Jonah was under God’s protection. Literally, the text says the shade was to deliver Jonah from evil. The Lord wants Jonah to see that all people matter to Him, but the story of Jonah ends with him sitting there, his anger unresolved- very similar to the Parable of the Two Sons.
John points out that the problem isn’t that the author can’t think up an ending. Jonah’s story really is about us and our response to God. John concludes:
There’s a door out there right now with your name on it. Right now. It’s open. What will you do?”
Today’s question: What has been your response to God when an open door is right in front of you? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Closed doors”