Jonah 3:1-5, 10 - Then the Word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you." So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the Word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. ... When 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.
Poor Jonah! He really doesn't want to be at Nineveh at all. In fact, he goes as far to avoid it as he could—getting on a ship heading for the other end of the world. And then, of course, the whole silly story happens—getting thrown overboard, winding up in a big fish, and getting spit up on the beach (poor fish!). And off to Nineveh Jonah goes, like it or not.
I can't really blame him. I mean, these people are his country's enemies. They've done some horrible things during the wars. And now God wants to save them—and use Jonah to do that? No, thank You, Lord!
Except that saying "No, thank You" to the Lord doesn't work very well, does it? As Jonah finds out.
So now he's walking through the city, preaching gloom and doom, and hoping that nobody will listen. Because he doesn't want these people to be saved. He'd much rather see them go up in a fizz of lightning bolts. That would be so satisfying. So he hopes they won't listen.
But they are listening. Even the king hears the message and gets down off his throne to repent. And Jonah can't take it. Because he knows how God is. God can never resist a sinner who repents! He's going to forgive them! And Jonah thinks, "Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!"
Jonah doesn't want a kindhearted God—a God who relents from sending judgment—a God who would gladly see His prophet proved wrong if it means that the people are saved. And that is exactly the kind of God Jonah has—yes, and us too. Because that's why we have Jesus, isn't it?
We have Jesus because God is exactly what Jonah said: "I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster" (Jonah 4:2b). Jesus is this God, God Himself, come down from heaven to become a human being—to live and to die and to rise again, all to save as many of us as He possibly can. Jesus will do whatever it takes to rescue us, no matter who we are or what we've been like—because that's the kind of God He is. Who could be better?
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, thank You that You relent from disaster and show mercy to Your enemies—even to me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Are there any people in the world you could wish God would not forgive? Or at least that He would give them a good spanking first?
2. Are there times when you are grateful that God is exactly the way He is?
3. How is the Holy Spirit working in your life to make you more forgiving?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"