Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
The book of Jonah has a unique place in the Old Testament. It is primarily the book of the divine sovereignty. The confession of the pagan mariners, “You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You” (1:14), is emphasized throughout. We are told that “the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea” (verse 4); “the Lord had prepared a great fish” (verse 17); “the Lord spoke to the fish” (2:10); “the Lord God prepared a plant” (4:6); “God prepared a worm” (verse 7), and “God prepared a vehement east wind” (verse 8). It is the Sovereign of the universe who works all things according to His own will (Ephesians 1:11). This answers every question that foolish, unbelieving skeptics might raise regarding the strange experiences recorded.
God’s love and grace transcend all national boundaries. His heart goes out to all the world. He would have all men repent and come to the knowledge of the truth, that judgment may be averted. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). He delights in mercy (Micah 7:18). Judgment is His awesome work (Isaiah 28:21). It is a great pity when His servants fail to recognize this and are more concerned about their own ease and reputation than about the needs of men to whom they are commissioned to go as God’s messengers.
Sovereign grace, o’er sin abounding,
Ransomed souls the tidings tell;
’Tis a deep that knows no sounding;
Who its length and breadth can tell?
On its glories
Let my soul forever dwell.
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 138.