Jonah 4:2 – You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (NIV 1984)
My Musings – We are clear about the fish story, but less clear about the theme. We spend a lot of time debating about the fish (was it a whale, or just a big fish? What would it be like to spend three days and nights in that environment? How could anyone possibly survive it?). We spend much less time focusing on the message of God’s grace.
A Grace That Pursues – If you knew, with certainty, what God wanted you to do, what would you do? Jonah not only ran away, he ran the other way. Was he uncertain? Did he fear for his life? Did he fear rejection? Was he afraid he would be wasting his time? Why didn’t he want to go? What about us? Would we run from God? Do we run from God?
Jonah ran (Jonah 1:3), but God pursued. God could have turned to someone else. After all, God’s program does not depend upon us. But God sent the storm (Jonah 1:3), God sent the fish (Jonah 1:17), God delivered Jonah (Jonah 2:10), God gave Jonah another chance (Jonah 3:1). Why would (should) God go to such trouble? Not because we deserve it, but because God is a God of grace.
A Grace That Shares – Jonah wanted the Ninevites to be judged, not to receive grace (Jonah 4:1). He was more concerned about a vine that no longer provided comfort to him than the people who “cannot tell their right hand from their left.” But God sent the vine to teach Jonah. How about us? Would we rather see “evil” people condemned than receive grace? What are the vines in our lives that we are so concerned about that we neglect those in need of God’s grace?
A Grace That Saves – Despite all their past wickedness, God relented on “sending calamity.” Why were the Ninevites “worthy” of salvation (Jonah 3:10)? Why were we “worthy” of salvation? Were the Ninevites any less “worthy” than us? Are those around us less “worthy” than us? The reality is, none of us are worthy. That’s why it is called grace.
My Advice – Don’t run from God’s call. If He calls us to it, in His grace He will see us through it. Don’t be so hasty to judge and condemn others. We were once (and really still are) in need of God’s grace. Finally, realize how unworthy we were to receive God’s grace and focus on how “abounding” His love is. Maybe then we will be less likely to run from His call and less likely to judge others.