I feel for Jonah (Jonah 3:10)

"Then God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it." - Jonah 3:10

Some movies are made to make you identify with the bad guy and begin to take his side. After watching for an hour and half you begin to identify with his background and understand why he turned out the way he did. You relate a little bit to why he is killing, or stealing, or whatever it is he does. Often times the point is simply to make you see just how fallen we are, or just how easy it would be for any of us to get to that point.

I feel this way about Jonah, the Bible basically makes Jonah out to be a sinner because God decides he will destroy Nineveh and then after Jonah preaches to them he relents. Jonah gets angry about this, wanting God to go ahead and destroy the people. He had even left the city and gone out to make a place for himself to watch the show, expecting God to call to fire from heaven (maybe like he had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah).

There are lots of reasons why Jonah would have wanted the city to be destroyed, but I totally end up taking his side in this story. We should be pleased at the graciousness of the God we serve, willing to save a whole city when they truly repent. But instead, I feel bad that poor Jonah had to walk the whole length of the city and decree their coming death and destruction only for it to not come to pass.

If God told me to go tell Bin Laden that He had decreed Bin Laden would live 40 more days and then die, I would be almost joyful to tell Bin Laden this. But then horrified if the Lord chose to spare him, no matter how great his repentance.

We worship a God willing to forgive an awful lot, I want to feel gratitude, but have a hard time doing so with this story, why is that?

(p.s. its interesting the KJV says the Lord repented - not relented - which would be an interesting discussion on its own, maybe I'll pose it at the forum...)