February 24

God Shows Mercy to Nineveh

Jonah 3,4

KEY VERSE: You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

-- Jonah 4:2

Jonah was a lot like you and me. He sometimes thought he was sometimes smarter than God. He was often stubborn. He was confused at times, though at other times he had splendid insights about the nature of God. He was more concerned about himself that he was the mission of God. He had poor vision in that he was unable to see the big picture -- that God loves everyone.

How wrong Jonah was to think that the people of Nineveh were worthless and not worthy of his time or the love of God! For a time he resisted the wisdom of God. We have all done the same. We may have had racial attitudes that we are now embarrassed to remember, times when we thought other races of people were inferior to our own. And we praise God for his patience with us when we indulged ourselves in racist feelings.

Stubborn? Oh yes! At least that describes me at many times in my journey. But like Jonah, when I have swallowed my pride, I have found great delight in doing what God said do. Have you not found it so?

Confused? Of course. None of us can see into the future exactly what God has planned. But at times he gives us glimpses of truth and understanding, much like he gave Jonah when the prophet was able to see that God is "gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." Only grace gave the prophet such an insight!

Self-centered? Yes, too often my concerns are for myself rather than the mission of God. What brings us back to center in on God is to remember the Cross. When we focus on the suffering of our Lord, we quickly realize how puny our own problems are.

A sad aspect of Jonah’s story is its ending. The final thing we see him doing illustrates clearly his humanity: he went out and sat down! Somehow he was unable to enjoy the great citywide revival God started through his preaching. The lesson may be this: that God uses real people, not super heroes with no flaws. Simply put, God will use ordinary people, warts and all, when they are willing to obey him. Should you and I not pray, "Lord, let me be one person you can use!"