Jonah 3:6-10 (ESV)
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 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.
God is so merciful... Even Nineveh, a city so evil, that God had to send Jonah from Israel to Nineveh to preach repentance to them. Of course we all know the story. Jonah said no. Jonah tried to run from God and not do what God told him to do. It did not work out well for Jonah.
If God tells us to do something, we need to do it. When we try to avoid doing what God calls us to, we run the risk of Him changing our circumstances until we do what He has called us to do. In Jonah’s case, a great fish (probably a whale) swallowed him and took him to Nineveh. Finally he did what God asked, and lo and behold, the people repented and God did not destroy the city.
This angered Jonah, but God had mercy, because God is more merciful than we are. We hold grudges. We stay angry. We do not want to forgive. But God calls us to forgive, just like He forgives us.
Let us try to look at the best in people. Let us be forgiving in our attitudes toward others. Let us learn from Jesus, for He forgave even while He was hanging on the Cross.
Lord Jesus, teach us to forgive. Do not let us harden our hearts. We do not want to accept evil, Lord, but we need to offer Your love to those around us. Help us to be Your witnesses in a way that shines Your love and forgiveness in this world of darkness.
by Virgil Stripes