When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
The account of Jonah has many strands running through it.
- The prophet who could not face the task that God gave him and so ran away from the LORD.
- God’s provision of the great fish.
- Jonah’s prayer from within his piscatorial lifeboat.
- His response to God’s second instruction and his proclamation of judgement on Nineveh unless they repented.
- The incredible impact which that warning had on the people so that God saw and relented.
- Jonah’s displeasure at God’s compassion.
In the light of this and the compassion of the all-seeing God how should we react?
As I have thought and prayed around this I find myself asking whether I am more like God or more like Jonah and I invite you, the reader, to ask the same question this morning.
God saw the people of Nineveh turn from evil and had compassion. Jonah on the other hand did not.
Jonah initially saw the Ninevites as beyond the pale. Not even worth calling to acknowledge God although he did subsequently obey God and went.
In the light of this I am ashamed that it is easier to be like Jonah than like God.
Do I look around at my own community and often take the easy way of expecting people to come to me, to Church, to some other meeting place rather than going to them?
Do I look around at my own community and sub-consciously write some people off as unreachable?
Do I even feel uncomfortable when one of these ‘outsiders’ seeks to come in?
That it seems, at least in part, is the Jonah approach while that of God is to have compassion
‘not wanting any to perish but for all to come to repentance’. 2 Peter 3.9
Father, help me to view my fellow men with compassion as you do. Amen