At the heart of this story, we find the depth and the width of God’s expansive mercy. The ones to whom Jonah was sent were known for the violence and terror they exacted upon Israel – Jonah’s own people. In the next chapter, we are told why Jonah had not wanted to go to Nineveh. It is because he knows that God is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. These are traits Jonah accepted for his own nation – one that had suffered so much at the hand of its oppressors. But to accept (not only to accept, but to participate in!) that God would extend those same mercies to the oppressors was too much to take.
Despite Jonah’s resistance, God persisted in using him to bring a message of repentance and forgiveness. The response of the Ninevites to Jonah’s message was shocking. From the least to the greatest, these people turned from their sinful ways and immersed themselves in acts of repentance. This leaves us with a question: If bloodthirsty folks can be redeemed from their violent, idolatrous ways, how much more should God’s own children be willing to turn from sins that hurt and harm others? It seems God had more faith in the Ninevites than Jonah did. Who are the people you are tempted to believe are beyond redemption?
Today, consider the sin in your life in specifics and reflect on how you might repent in concrete ways. How will you hold yourself accountable?
Offer these thoughts to God in prayer.