ODJ: Compelling Grace

May 7, 2016 

READ: Jonah 1:1-17, 4:1-3,11  

Then God said to Jonah, ldquo;Is it right for you to be angry . . . ?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” (4:9).

My friends in my Bible discussion group chuckled when I shared how I was trying to avoid God. I smiled, but it was no joke. His promptings to overlook my demands for justice and extend grace filled me with resentment. I felt like shaking my fist (as the prophet Jonah might have done) and screaming, “You want me to go where, and do what?!”

Assyria was Israel’s bitter enemy—a wicked nation that delighted in unspeakable acts of cruelty. No one was more deserving of judgement. When God sent Jonah to preach in the Assyrian city of Nineveh, he took off for Tarshish instead—away from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:3). The prophet would have benefitted from my friends’ counsel. “You can’t run away from God,” they told me. “He knows how to find you.”

They were right.

God pursued Jonah with a raging tempest—subsiding only when he was thrown into the sea. Then God provided a fish’s belly in which the prophet would cool his fleeing heels (v.17). Finally, Jonah did obey God’s voice. But the indignation he had felt at the call bubbled over when the Ninevites actually repented (3:6-10). Filled with rage, Jonah declared that he’d “rather be dead” than see his enemies saved (4:1-3). But God didn’t see vile, wicked people. He saw lost souls in need of salvation (v.11).

Like Jonah, I found myself pursued by God’s grace and mercy. Everywhere I turned, images and messages of the cross were waiting to confront me. My demands for justice paled when compared to those of God’s holiness in light of my sin. His grace compelled me to humbly face the accusations flung at me, for Jesus made the ultimate exchange—His righteousness for my lack thereof. Rejoicing in that truth, I heard Him whisper, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37).

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Esther 6:1-7:10

Read Luke 15:25-32 and think about how the prodigal son’s older brother reacted to his return. 
Is there a person or situation in your life that has caused you great pain? What does the reality of God’s grace contribute to your response or reaction?