Daily Devotional: Day 52
“And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil” (Jonah 4:2, KJV).
From time immemorial people have tried to put God in a box. Even today, people don’t seem to get it. Some have got their own notions of God, based on their own expectation of who God is supposed to look like and how he’s supposed to act in a given situation. The truth is, God is sovereign. He’s not under our control, and he doesn’t respond to our stereotypes. In today’s Scripture passage, Jonah, a prophet of God, was shocked and became depressed because God showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. In Jonah’s mind, the people of Nineveh deserved to be punished for their sins. He was, therefore, disappointed and upset when God forgave the people after they repented of their wickedness.
In chapters 3-4 of the Book of Jonah, we learn that God sent the prophet to go warn the people of Nineveh about their evil behavior. Jonah was hoping they wouldn’t repent, so that God would punish them. But, to his disappointment, the people repented and God didn’t punish them. Today’s passage (Jonah 4:20) tells us about Jonah’s response to God’s decision to spare the Ninevites. Basically, he says, “I knew it! I saw this coming! This is why I didn’t want to go to Nineveh. You always forgive those who repent, even horrible people. How disappointing!” Like Jonah, we’ve all got our own incorrect expectations of how God is supposed to deal with people. We look at certain individuals or groups of people and we hope they go to hell. Fortunately, God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Of course, God hates evil, and if sinners remain unrepentant, he’ll send them to the lake of fire (See Revelation 20:11-15). But the truth is, God takes no pleasure in the death of sinners (See Ezekiel 18:1-32). He, therefore, gives sinners enough opportunity to repent and be saved. The time has come for us all to pray that evil people repent and be saved. If these are people close to us, we’ll do well to reach out to them with the truth of the Gospel and hope they listen to us. If they don’t listen, at least we’ve done our duty.
Dear Father, you’ve shown me mercy. I know that you want all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Make my heart like yours. And fill me with the desire to see people repent and get saved by your grace. Touch all who walk in darkness, and draw them to your light. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: Ezekiel 33:1-19