Background: Nineveh was an ancient city of Assyria—a nation known for war, destruction, terror, torture, and murder.1 As the story unfolds, a reluctant Jonah is persuaded by God to warn Nineveh of imminent destruction if the people do not repent, which they almost immediately did.
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. BUT it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. (Old Testament | Jonah 3:10-4:1)So why was Jonah so very angry? Could it be the same reason that caused Biblical Job to be so distressed and confused?2 Might it also prove to be the same reason why many of us will become confused or angry when “Justice and Judgment”3 takes the bench and rules contrary to our will or perspective?
Some believe that Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh because of its reputation, but Jonah's words suggest that he feared not Nineveh, but rather God's will and ways.
I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. (Old Testament | Jonah 4:2-3)The whole world knew of Assyria's infamy and menace, and undoubtedly thousands in Israel prayed day and night for justice and judgment to reign down upon those purveyors of trauma and terror. But what did Nineveh know, prior to Jonah, of God, or goodness, or truth? What was the culture they were immersed in from birth? Were they not like unto cattle driven hither and thither at the whims, commands, and customs of their leaders because that was all they knew of obedience? of survival?
To have been so instrumental in immediately convicting Nineveh of its abominations, Jonah must have preached such fire and brimstone that the city was overwhelmed with his truths. And what was he preaching with such passion if not Justice and Judgment? Do his words not tell us that God's seeming abandonment of these values distressed Jonah to the point that he questioned the whole purpose of his life? Did it not appear that God's mercy had robbed justice, especially when God's Word is saturated with promises of justice and judgment for the wicked?
But God tried to teach Jonah (and other lovers of Justice and Judgment) that all things are not as they appear.
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much [like unto?] cattle? (Old Testament | Jonah 4:11)Is this why Justice and Judgment are to be strictly left in the hands of God?
1. Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death By Erika Belibtreu at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f4af/bb82f1b7920fa9444e29eb128bd13832cd46.pdf ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyria
2. http://dejavu-times.blogspot.com/search/label/Biblical%20Job ; http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/search/label/Biblical%20Job
3. Old Testament | Psalms 89:14 ~ Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.
Old Testament | Proverbs 21:3 ~ To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Pearl of Great Price | Moses 6:61 ~ Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3 Fac.:1 ~ Fig. 1. Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh's throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand.
Book of Mormon | Alma 60:13 ~ For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.