Jonah 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
We will continue today in our installment of blogs regarding Jonah. The story of Jonah is truly remarkable on so many levels. The mercy and grace of God often gets overshadowed in discussions about Jonah's ride in the big fish. When Jonah was finally released from the belly of the fish, a revival of biblical proportions took place. Jesus says that Jonah's arrival in Nineveh was a "sign" to the people (Luke 11:30). This prophet of God arrived in the city with a message of destruction; "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown". Jonah's message was not of the "repent or else" variety. It was merely a pronouncement of impending calamity.
And yet something remarkable happened. This city known for its wickedness and opposition towards the people of God had a great awakening. The king of Nineveh proclaimed a fast and instructed the people to "cry mightily unto God". When we fast-forward to the end of the chapter (3), we see that God changed his intentions based on their response. The book of Jonah sometimes presents a problem for those of us who demand that every ounce of theology be systematic. In this book, a prophet's message of doom does not come to pass. In this book, God changes his course of action based on human response. Did this take God by surprise? Of course not. But this shows that a relationship with God is dynamic- not static!
For me, one of the highlights of chapter 3 is this example of the king of Nineveh taking a chance on God's mercy. Remember that the people of Nineveh had no guarantee that anything would change their outcome. At this point, they could have simply mocked Jonah, or taken the attitude of "let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die" (I Cor 15:32b). But instead, they risk everything and cast their hopes upon the mercy of God. And they were not disappointed! Now contrast the people of Nineveh (those who had no promises or guarantees) with believers in Jesus Christ (those who have been given "exceeding great and precious promises" -2 Peter 1:4).
You cannot go wrong with God. Among our greatest fears, is the fear of rejection. But we have some wonderful and comforting promises from scripture that I want to share with you in closing.
Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Jam 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.