Focal Passage: Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5,10
Many years ago I went through a difficult experience where I witnessed believers behaving in a manner that was wholly incompatible with the gospel.
When I confronted them about it, the response was not what I expected. They dismissed all that I said and began to treat me as an enemy. This hurt me deeply as I had known and looked up to them for many years.
My hurt eventually led me to deep resentment and bitterness. I had responded sinfully to being sinned against.
Mercifully, the Lord used the experience to expose what was in my heart and to reorient affections that had lost their original focus.
Something similar happened to Jonah. To be clear, he never saw Nineveh as friends or role models.
They were oppressors of Israel. Yet Jonah was not without blame. In his heart, he had clung to sinful emotions and attitudes toward Nineveh to the point that even the possibility that they might repent and turn to God was repulsive to him.
Jonah, like so many of us, responded sinfully to the sin of others. As an Israelite, he should have understood well how merciful and patient God had been to continually extend grace to Israel after they had strayed.
The outcome of Jonah’s story is a testament to the love and mercy of God. Jonah obeys reluctantly and upon hearing the word, Nineveh repents. God shows them mercy and relents from destroying the city.
God uses these events to show Jonah what is going on in his heart, how he is more capable of feeling compassion for a plant than for human beings heading straight for destruction.
What about us? What is the response of our heart to God’s call?
Will we respond like Nineveh and repent of our sin and look to Christ as our only hope for salvation?
God’s call to return to Him demands a response, yet if we repent He welcomes us with mercy.