“God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”” (Jonah 4:10–11, The Message)
Jonah, a reluctant prophet, gets sent to a pagan city. His job is to preach to the people and tell them to change their lives and come to God, or the city will be destroyed in judgment. Jonah clearly doesn’t care about the people whom he is called to reach. He goes out of his way to avoid the people of Nineveh. After a series of events, Jonah ends up being thrown overboard. God delivers Jonah through a natural submarine (big fish) to town. When Jonah arrives, he tells people to change their lives, or God will bring judgment.
The people, in an amazing turn, actually repent. They heed the warning. They fast and pray. God relents from bringing His anger to the city. The final chapter shows Jonah, all upset because the people obeyed God’s warning. Jonah decides to rest under a tree, and it is first moment of happiness during the entire trip. He enjoys the tree’s shade. The next day, the shade is gone and Jonah is angry about the fact that the tree lost its ability to give him shade.
God takes the shade away to make a point. If Jonah can easily change his attitude from anger to pleasure, shouldn’t God be able to change His mind about His people?
My thought is this: What causes God to change His mind from anger to pleasure? What makes God go from being upset to being happy? I think the key is repentance. God can change His mind. He changes His mind from anger to pleasure based on our response to His offer of obedience.
“God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn’t do.” (Jonah 3:10, The Message)
When I decide to change my life and follow God, He changes His mind and turns His pleasure to us.