Jonah didn’t want the people of Nineveh to be forgiven. He was well aware of the forgiving grace of the Lord and didn’t want the Assyrians to receive it. He would rather die than see them have this opportunity. We see this in Jonah 1:12 as well as all of chapter 4. This degree of disgust did not come in a vacuum. The people of Nineveh were cruel warriors (see the previous post). As I have contemplated the feelings Jonah must’ve had for them, I am reminded of an experience related by Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
Keith McMullin of the Presiding Bishopbric shared the following story in the April 2010 Ensign:
In Holland during World War II, the Casper ten Boom family used their home as a hiding place for those hunted by the Nazis. This was their way of living out their Christian faith. Four members of the family lost their lives for providing this refuge. Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie spent horrific months in the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp. Betsie died there—Corrie survived.
In Ravensbrück, Corrie and Betsie learned that God helps us to forgive. Following the war, Corrie was determined to share this message. On one occasion, she had just spoken to a group of people in Germany suffering from the ravages of war. Her message was “God forgives.” It was then that Corrie ten Boom’s faithfulness brought forth its blessing.
A man approached her. She recognized him as one of the cruelest guards in the camp. “You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he said. “I was a guard there. … But since that time, … I have become a Christian.” He explained that he had sought God’s forgiveness for the cruel things he had done. He extended his hand and asked, “Will you forgive me?”
Corrie ten Boom then said:
“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
“… The message that God forgives has a … condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. …
“… ‘Help me!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
“… Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. As I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart.’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.” (Keith McMulling, Our Path of Duty, Ensign, April 2010. See also Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (1974), 54–55).