Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jonah 3 (Audio)

In this chapter we find our hero, Jonah, having just been vomited up onto the shore by the great fish that God used to save him from drowning in the sea. Jonah, as it would seem, is a very humbled man. He's been fish food, probably wreaks of fish guts, seaweed, he might have his clothing ripped, torn, tattered, his skin might be a bit bleached, and he's probably getting readjusted to living on land and being among the living.

While Jonah may be trying to make sense of all that has gone on the past few days, God speaks to him again, telling him the same thing that initially caused him to run in the first place: Go to Nineveh, and tell them that they will be overthrown in forty days.

The message is quite clear. Yet here's where I believe things get particularly interesting. Many of us have this view that God is someone who just waits for us to step out of line so that He can punish us in some sadistic manner. But in this pronouncement of judgment, there is mercy and grace. God had made the decision that Nineveh was to be destroyed. That was His will. And Jonah, being the pro-Israel prophet he was, should have been all too happy with proclaiming that. But he knew that God never gave such a pronouncement without also extending an opportunity for repentance. It was this second aspect of God's judgment, that within it contained an opportunity for the people to turn from their wickedness and be spared. That's what Jonah didn't like.

The people of Nineveh did repent. Isn't it interesting that God, though He had determined to destroy Nineveh, would first extend them an opportunity to turn from their wickedness and second actually change His mind based on their response?

This morning's sermon, third in the series on the book of Jonah, looks at this a little bit more in depth. Please take a listen and don't hesitate to let me know what you think.


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