A Question without an Answer

David Bast

READ : Jonah 4:10-11

And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city? (v. 11)

Let’s look again at the striking conclusion of the book of Jonah. Perhaps you have noticed it is a question without an answer. I can’t help but wonder about Jonah’s response to God’s question. Was he embarrassed by the contrast between his heart and God’s heart? Did he get up and say, “You’re right, Lord. I have been terribly selfish”? Did he go on to serve with gladness the gospel of grace?

We don’t know. But I think the book’s ending is intentionally ambiguous. The reason Jonah does not answer God’s question is because we each have to answer it for ourselves. Do I care about the world the way God does? Do I have compassion on all those people who do not know him, who have not learned about his love, who have never heard the name of Jesus? Do I share God’s heart? What answer would you give if this were your story?

Here is a little poem that sums up the message Jonah was written to convey:

And Jonah stalked to his shaded seat, and waited for God to come around to his way of thinking. And God is still waiting for a host of Jonahs in their comfortable houses to come around to his way of loving. (Quoted by Johannes Verkuyl, “The Biblical Foundation for the Worldwide Missionary Mandate”)


God of all peoples and nations, help me to come around to your way of loving.