"You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger ad abundant in lovingkindness,
one who relents from doing harm” [4:2]
[Day Three of Fast of Nineveh]
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit-One God, Amen.
Pridful Jonah vs repentant Nineveh
Introduction. Jonah means “dove”; dove is a symbol of peace, simplicity, and harmlessness. St. Jerome, citing a Jewish tradition, said Jonah is the son of the widow of Zarephath in Sidon, whom the prophet Elijah raised from the dead [1Kings 17:17-2]. The story of Jonah occurred during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel. Nineveh was a great city and was a capital city of Assyria ruled by Sennacherib. Prophet Nahum called Nineveh a city of blood that practiced endless cruelty [Nah.3:1]. The book of Jonah is a story telling the universality of God’s mercy. The compassion of the Lord is not limited to the jews, but extends to all people, even to the enemies of God’s people.
The story of Jonah's deliverance from fish belly was miraculous and beautiful. It is an act of God. Our God is a God of Mercy and many chances. Throughout history, we have seen God work through our messed-up decisions and accomplish great things. He doesn’t turn a deaf ear or a cold shoulder to repentant – no matter how awful the rebellion [sin is]. Like the father in the story of the Prodigal son, He waits for you and I with open arms, fattened calf, robs and rings to give us a second chance to serve Him.
The reason why Jonah thought to escape and become disobedient was he knew preaching to the city of Ninevite provide an opportunity to repent and find mercy. He thought if he preached to the Ninevite saying they will be destroyed, and if they return to God with repentance, and God forgive them; he was afraid of being a lair messenger. He was too concerned about his image instead of God’s good will to all people. Jonah thinks he knows very well what God should do. He already passed a harsh judgment of calamity to the evil city without forgiveness; shouldn’t even hear the word of God. What about us. Are we like Jonah placing ourselves at the sit of judging others. Sometimes we can have the right theology while having totally wrong heart. Like the older brother in the story the Prodigal son, Jonah was angry, with self-righteousness heart because God showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. When we judge people while serving others, though we are living in His house, our heart is surly mile away. This is the main reason why so many of us have the right word, but perhaps wrong heart/action [behavior].
The three days spent in the whale’s belly comprise half of Jonah’s active ministry; his next three days were spent walking through Nineveh. He had simply announced the city’s destruction, without a single word about repentance nor the faintest ray of hope. He said, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be thrown!” [3:4]. Though a half verse of the bible, the living and active Word of God cuts like a sharp, two-edged sword to pierce the heart of the Ninevites. Hearing the message, the people of Nineveh repented and turned from their evil ways and God forgave them. The heat of God’s anger was cooled by the three days genuine fast accompanied with tearful repentance of Nineveh. How many words, church conference, liturgy would be enough for you and I to turn to Him?
"But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore, I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” [4:1-3]
God didn’t belittle Jonah’s anger. He still wants Jonah to learn how much God love his creature even if they were guilty of violence’s and injustice. Humans are precious to God. You and I are so dear to God, though we are sinful. There is no limit for God’s patience and mercy to bring us to Him. Remember, God so loved us that He gave His only Son so that we may have everlasting life.
"O Lord, I am sorry I have resisted when you try to fix me! I am sorry I always run to my old ways! The easy way. It is because I didn't know better. Only You know, Lord, what a great good may soon break from my broken heartedness, if only I bring the pieces to You. Draw me away, O Lord! I am helpless, I want You to intervene on my behalf. Attract me to You. O Lord, for without You, I can't do anything! Please do not leave me to my own will, my frail determination, or my human ability, for I am not much to the challenges of the world. I want You, O Lord, to knock down my pride, ego, jealousy feeling of loneliness, and want You to bring me out of this mess Yourself, for, without you, I simply can not."
“Deliverance belongs to the Lord”!