Jonah was one of God’s premier prophets. He was revered by the Israelites because of the prophecy given to King Jereboam II that the King would restore much of the land to the borders of Israel. (2Kings 14:25)
The Assyrians were a mighty people and were a constant threat to the land of Israel. Their treachery and barbarism was well known and has been well authenticated in secular history. The Israelites hated the Assyrians.
When God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and “cry against it”, Jonah knew that God was merciful and would withhold judgment if they were to repent. This was too much for Jonah. He fled, hoping that God would either change His mind or get someone else to deliver this message. Jonah was WILLING TO DIE rather than be part of the mercy of God on these hated adversaries. God dealt with Jonah until he was willing to do what God had told him.
Imagine a Jew being told to go to Berlin in the days of Hitler and preach so that they would repent and have God’s mercy bestowed upon them. They too would probably have rebelled just as Jonah did.
Do you harbor hatred in your heart? Do you wish sometmes that someone would die and go to hell? Do we deserve any less? Pray to God for His mercy.
II Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.