Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-3
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call against it, for their evil has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:2)
Most of us know the story of Jonah. It is a short prophetical book that is packed with meaning and application. Jonah was a prophet who lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II (about 786-746 BC). We know very little about Jonah. We do know that Jonah supported Jeroboam’s aggressive military policy to extend Israel’s power and influence. He was a devoted nationalist and patriot of Israel.
God’s call to Jonah to go to Nineveh is unprecedented because God instructed Jonah to leave Israel and to go to a Gentile city — Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Assyria was one of the cruelest empires of ancient times. The Assyrians tortured and abused those whom they defeated. They were a fierce and evil people.
Yet it was this nation that became the object of God’s missionary outreach. Why on earth would God want to save people like the Assyrians? They were evil — “for their evil has come up before Me.”
The story of Jonah teaches us about the gracious and merciful character of God. No sin is too great for God to grant grace and no evil is too extreme for God to grant mercy. No matter what we have done, nothing can stop the grace of God from belong lavished upon us. This is the gracious nature of our God.
Gracious God, You know the evil in my life and yet You chose me to be Your son. You have lavished Your grace upon me and forgiven me of all my sins. Thank you for being merciful to me. I know what I deserve but You have chosen to pardon me and accept me into Your family. You indeed are a gracious and merciful God.
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