March 17, 2016
READ: Jonah 3:10–4:11
I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love (4:2).
I have a confession to make (inhale deeply and hold breath):I’m not a dog person! But here’s another confession. My wife is training a black Labrador Retriever as a service dog for people with disabilities, and . . . well, Snickers is absolutely the sweetest, most gentle and loving creature in the world—even though she’s so very doggish. You might even venture to say I’ve grown to love her.
God also loves creatures. He put animals on this earth for many reasons, but surely one is that He cares for them. His creatures teach us about His nature.
The book of Jonah also reveals something about God’s nature. A great fish miraculously deposited Jonah on the beach, and the runaway prophet finally did what God commanded: He warned the violent city of Nineveh of their imminent destruction (3:3-4). The Ninevites repented and God relented. And Jonah vented. He was unhappy about the fact that God was “eager to turn back from destroying people” (4:2). After being rescued from certain death, Jonah now wanted to die because He was so upset.
Despite Jonah’s tantrum, God continued to teach him about His forgiving nature. He sent a plant to protect Jonah from the sun. Then He killed the plant. Jonah waxed suicidal (again!). So God asked, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” (v.9). Then God revealed His heart ofcompassion: “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” (v.11).
It’s evident that God cares about His creation—people, animals—even stubborn prophets. He’ll always welcome us when we turn to Him. For to do so reflects His perfect, loving nature.
365-day-plan: Ruth 3:1-18
Read Jonah 3:1-10 for the backstory of the Ninevites’ repentance.
How have you been acting like Jonah? Do you want God to punish others for being evil while overlooking your own sin? How does God’s grace inspire you today?