Oh, the Mercy and the Grace of God! – Part 1

Sunday, September 22, 2019

“[Jonah] prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home?  This is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.'” (Jonah 4:2 NIV)

Jonah couldn’t abide what the Assyrians were doing to the Israelites, so he ran away from God rather than obey his command to go and preach to them about God’s impending judgment.  The reason was that he was afraid that they might repent and be spared the judgment that he felt they deserved.  And guess what?  Jonah ended up being right!  Not only did the people of Nineveh repent, but their king declared a fast; and the Bible says that “when God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”  This angered Jonah greatly.  He said to God, in essence, “I know you!  You’re just looking for a way to forgive people!  That’s why I didn’t want to go to Nineveh!”

Could some of us learn something about God from what Jonah said?  God is always looking for a way to forgive and bless and help someone.  Jonah knew that about God, and we need to know it too.  Perhaps someone needs that kind of grace from you today.  Would you ask God to give you compassion and help you to forgive them if they have wronged you?  Perhaps it is you who are in need of God’s mercy and intervention in your life.  If so, would you call on the name of the Lord and give him a chance to help you?

At the end of the book, we read about the lesson that God taught Jonah.  The prophet had been outside Nineveh, waiting to see what would happen to the city; and when he awoke the next morning, he found that a plant that was giving him shade had withered and died.  Again, Jonah grew angry —this time, because of the plant.  “But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow.  It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh?’”

Oh, the mercy and the grace of God!  Let’s thank him for his compassion and his love today!

To be continued...

Read Jonah 3:6—4:3.

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