“…For I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” Jonah 2:10
Many are familiar with the story of Jonah. Jonah was a reluctant prophet who tried to go as far away from where God had commanded him to go. In fact, he fled in the opposite direction by jumping on a ship headed for Tarshish!
However, the boat with Jonah in it did not get too far before God sent a great storm on the sea to get Jonah’s attention. Not only did it get Jonah’s attention, but also it got the attention of the mariners on the ship. This is what the mariners said to one another:
“Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said, to him, ‘Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”
Jonah knew that he could run but he could not hide from God or the call that God had on his life! The story continues when the mariners, with the consent of Jonah, throws him overboard into the deep, cold sea! As Jonah is sinking to the bottom of the ocean, God in His tender mercies sends a large fish to swallow him and save Jonah’s life.
While in this large fish, Jonah now sees the error of his ways and humbles himself before God and rededicates his life for God’s purposes. Miraculously, by God’s command, the large fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. The Lord gives Jonah another opportunity to obey him and Jonah accepts the call of God and goes to Nineveh to warn the people of their coming destruction because of the evil life style the people in the city were leading.
After Jonah announces the coming destruction on the city, Jonah waits and watches to see what God will do! But something beautiful happens to the surprise of Jonah, the people of Nineveh accepted Jonah’s message and with fasting and prayers they cried out to God for forgiveness for their evil ways and the violence that governed their lives.
In Jonah 3:10 it says, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”
Unfortunately, God’s mercy upon this city made Jonah angry instead of joyful. You see Jonah had no compassion on the people of Nineveh even though he himself received the compassion of God and was spared his own life. After seeing God’s great mercy upon the city, this is when Jonah said this to God:
“Ah LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” Jonah 2:10
“I Know: Jonah himself had experienced the excellencies of God.
Gracious and merciful: May be rephrased as “marvelously gracious.”
Lovingkindness: Can also mean “loyal love.””
Jonah still had a lot to learn in his life and so do we! But let's not miss the beauty of our LORD - He is marvelously gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness!
THANK YOU LORD for You are marvelously gracious and have a loyal love for us. Thank you for reminding us that your grace and love is not only for us who know you, but also for the entire world. Thank you that you are ALWAYS ready to show compassion and mercy to ANYONE willing to seek You! Thank you for giving us second chances, third chances and as many chances we need to participate in Your work. Thank you LORD for sending the “large fish” in our life, as they are your acts of mercy towards us! In Jesus’ Name – Amen.