Jonah - God's Grace is for Everyone
Jonah was told to go to Nineveh and call out against the evil in the capital city of Assyria. Assyria was the powerful nation that would eventually exile the northern kingdom of Israel. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh and instead went in the opposite direction.
Jonah's disobedience towards God landed him in the belly of a fish. With his life ebbing away, Jonah remembered the steadfast love of the LORD and called out for help. The LORD graciously saved him by having the fish vomit him out on dry ground. This gets Jonah's attention and he dutifully goes to Nineveh to proclaim the message that God had told him.
Now, Nineveh's wickedness was so great that judgement was imminent. When they heard the message of Jonah they believed it and changed their ways in the hope that God would be gracious to them. God saw what they did and graciously relented from the disaster that He had said would come upon them, which made Jonah angry. Jonah was angry that God was too gracious:
O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster (Jonah 4:2).Although Jonah had just been saved from the belly of a fish, he did not quite understand the grace of God yet, and so God taught him another lesson through the death of a plant. God appointed a plant to shield Jonah from the sun, but the next day the plant died and Jonah became angry with God for killing the plant.
Jonah wanted God's grace for himself, but did not want to share it with others. His concern for the plant was motivated by the shade for his head. He did not have concern for the human beings who God had created in his image. This is a foreshadow of the Gospel that would be made available to all people. In this one story we see God's grace towards to Jonah, His grace towards Nineveh, and His grace to the whole world.