The reading for today is Jonah 3:10.
“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”
That God’s grace is extended to all nations is the topic of Jonah, which means “dove.” The inclusion of the Gentiles in the grace of God is a teaching found elsewhere in the Old Testament, but the book of Jonah is one of the clearest manifestations that God’s grace is meant for all peoples. Of all the prophets in the Old Testament, Jesus likened only Jonah to himself. Jonah’s experience is a type of death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, who died and rose for all mankind, the ultimate proof of the grace of God.
We all know the story of how Jonah was thrown overboard from a ship, by his own instructions, as he sailed toward Tarshish. He was swallowed by a great fish (probably a whale) and was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Like other great prayers, this is where the Bible tells us of Jonah’s prayer. It was answered, and he lived.
In John 3 we read, “Then the word of God came to Jonah a second time.” God told Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and warn them that in forty days it will be overturned. Because they took the prophet Jonah seriously, and repented humbly, God saw how they turned from their evil ways, and he relented from his fierce anger so that they would not perish.
When the king of Nineveh issued a proclamation that every man, beast, herd or flock must not taste anything, and that they be covered with sackcloth, the sincerity of their giving up of their evil ways was acknowledged with God’s grace. He did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
We pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses ... Deliver us from evil.”
We too seek God’s mercy and grace as we repent from our evil ways. We don’t fear his anger, nor do we feel he is threatening to destroy us. We know we have an advocate and his name is Jesus. Can you see the similarities in Jonah and Jesus?
Maureen D. Baldwin firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern: Those who struggle with age-related health issues.