I love the word of God. What other book can you read repeatedly, and find relevance for “right now” regardless of the day, the month, or even the year when you’re reading! How many times have you read a passage of scripture or bible story, and it brought fresh revelation to a different area of your life than the previous time? That is because a lot of times we aren’t able to get understanding on many things found in scripture until we have experienced the life lesson that accompanies it. For instance, it will forever be difficult for anyone who has never lost a child to FULLY understand what Mary felt when Jesus was being crucified. Or perhaps we may not understand the desperation of the woman with the issue of blood until we are faced with a situation in our own lives that puts us in a position that requires our total dependence on a miracle. While those are only obvious examples, I am trying to say that there are many more things we are learning, and will learn from the word because of a commonality with something we are facing in our lives.
Mercy is not a subject often welcomed in religious circles, and I have very little personal experience having heard it preached or taught in a church setting. While I have heard a few sermons on it, it always seems to place emphasis on the “one-time” mercy that God gives at salvation, while not challenging believers to be rich in mercy one to another. We all need this gift of mercy from God, but its much harder at times for us to give mercy.
God shows us His mercy in the book of Jonah. Jonah is not a book that I have turned to in years, but today it came alive to me for the first time. This story stole my heart.
Jonah knew about mercy first hand. After his rebellion and being swallowed by a whale, our merciful father chose him again deliver his word.
To make this short, God loved Nineveh. Jonah 3:3 states that Nineveh was a great city to God. Nineveh was among the first cities that Nimrod established after the flood. It was a metropolitan region that was very prosperous and God loved the people in spite of their sin. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to phophesy doom. Jonah spoke out boldly of the city being overthrown in 40 days. The people listened to the warning and Jonah tells us, “The men of Nineveh began to put their faith in God, and they proceeded to proclaim a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest one of them and even to the least one of them.” (Jonah 3:5)
Imagine that, instead of pride, they listened.
Three things we need today in these times:
1. To listen and recieve a rebuke
2. Less pride
3. Boldly speak when God says, no matter what!
Jonah wrote: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”-Jonah 3:10 Another account in the book of Matthew, Jesus Christ himself refers to the repentance of the Ninevites. This that made me aware that it was repentance, a turning away from sin, that stopped his wrath. It cancels out the idea that Jonah prophesied falsely. God loved them and lead them to repentance! Sounds like the scripture, “He loved us while we were yet sinners.” Romans 5:8
Our Father is loving, full of mercy, and has surely held back judgement when we deserved it! You still have a decision today to turn back to His guidance and avoid a life of calamity. He loves us. The word says He is eager to see us repent and change our ways. His righteous anger was simply abated with Nineveh. God decided that their punishment was no longer fitting! Our God is nothing like the mean God religious leaders portray, he is merciful! When he determines to bring punishment on the wicked, he first sends a prophet to issue a warning because he desires for them to turn from their ways and choose to live!
You can compete with God’s mercy, but we should all reflect who he is! We should help facilitate people on the road to their destiny in Christ!
How Great Is Out God!!
So get this! After all that Jonah had been forgiven, he needed mercy yet again as he became furious that the prophesy did not come to pass. The bible said he was filled with angered, ran from the city and wanted to die! People listen! That is exactly how religious pride works! The one who was shown such mercy after rebelling against God’s call to deliver the word to Nineveh, became more concerned with saving his own face than he was seeing God’s mercy extended!