In this Book we see that God is the one who searches for man and not vice versa. The life of repentance teaches us that man should return to God, as did the Prodigal Son when he returned to his father. He addressed himself, saying:"I will arise and go to my father" (Luke 15:18).
But in the Book of Jonah we find that God is the One who searches for man in order to bring him to repentance. We see Him searching for all. He goes about seeking the souls that are His.
He searches for the souls of those in the ship in order to save them. He searches for the lost souls of the people of Nineveh in order to make them repent to save them. He also uses every possible means in order to save Jonah the Prophet. If man does not go to Him, He goes to man in order to reform him and reconcile him. As Saint James of Serog said on the occasion of Christ's Birth, "There was a dissension between God and man, and when man did not go to God to be reconciled, God came down to reconcile man to Him".
God does not see this action of searching for man and seeking his love as contrary to His honor. The Creator of heaven and earth finds His pleasure in seeking the dust and ashes! This gives us an idea of the loving kindness of paternity and of the forgiveness of the tolerant heart.
In searching for man, God used many different means among which some were frightening, reproaching, convincing, showing kindness and punishment. The most important thing to Him is to reach man's heart and find Himself a place there. God's pleasure is man's love. He wants to rest in man's heart.
We also notice that God does not leave man to his absolute freedom, not to the extent of disregarding him, caring not for his destiny, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. He does not say to man: "If you come, all right, and if you do not come, as you like!" No, rather, He says: "if you do not come to Me, I will seek you, run after you, search for you and hold you, and I will keep on doing so until I restore you." God's head wishes to rest in the fatigued heart of man in order to give him rest and turn his fatigue into comfort.
We notice in the Book of Jonah that God's searching for man was serious and not ostensible nor a formality. The search persisted until love was restored even if it meant striking man so that he may recover and return to his love.
God In The Book Of Jonah
H. H. Pope Shenouda III
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