…thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…
Jonah was so convinced of God’s mercy and grace that he preferred running away to Tarshish than running to Nineveh, the assignment God had given him. After all, Nineveh was wicked, and the Assyrians had been the oppressors of his people for generations. It wasn’t fair that God should forgive them. So Jonah ran away.
But the same gracious and merciful God prepared a fish for him and sent him right back in the direction of Nineveh. To Jonah’s consternation, the Ninevites, from the king down to the animals, demonstrated repentance, and God saw and heard. And Jonah was angry.
Jonah with his disobedience, his nasty attitude, and his unforgiveness couldn’t understand God’s patience with Nineveh, many whose population was so young they didn’t know their right hand from their left. God saw and withheld judgment.
While we may be shocked at Jonah’s hypocrisy, I wonder if we would be grateful if God showed mercy to someone who deserves judgment or if he pours out grace when we know punishment would be just? Isn’t it a good thing that, because of Jesus, God’s mercies are new every day, and we don’t get what we deserve?
Father, your steadfast love never changes, and your mercies never come to an end. Thank you that the chiefest of sinners can repent and accept your forgiveness. That’s us, Lord, and we thank you. AMEN.