Irvin Wasswa- Tylertown Campus Pastor LHBC
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
When God saw what they did,how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
In my last quarter of college, I took a class within my major that was by far the most difficult class I have ever taken in my life. The class was comprised of just four main assignments and I tell you what, the class was tough. I needed to pass the class with a C in order to graduate college. I got off to a poor start on my first assignment, did better on my second one, then the BIG research paper assignment came which accounted for 40% of our whole grade. I tried my best on the paper but I knew I didn’t do too well on it. A few weeks later as a class, we got the papers back and I saw that mine was full of red marks which was a bad sign. Our professor stood up and shared how horrible the assignment performance was and, with how the grades stood, the six people who were supposed to graduate that quarter would not graduate. At that moment I thought my heart stopped. I had thoughts like, “What am I going to tell my mom?” and “What’s the cheapest ticket to Montana so I can run away?” I thought I had failed. However, the professor continued his talked and said that because the papers were so bad, and he did not want those people to fail, he decided that he would just throw the grade out and not count it. I remember praising God and shouting, “hallelujah,” the whole rest of the class! Our professor showed us mercy. What we all deserved was to fail the class because of the paper, but He showed us mercy!
In the book of Jonah, the Lord calls for Jonah to go and prophesy to a terribly wicked people known as the Ninevites. If you know the story, Jonah decided to rebel against the Lord and ended up in the belly of a fish. God showed mercy after Jonah prayed and saved him. He then was called again to go and share the message with the people of Nineveh a second time. By the way, aren’t you glad that God is a God of second chances, amen?! In chapter three we see Jonah answer the call to go and share, and the result was nothing short of incredible. The people of Nineveh received the word, repented of their sins and God relented from pouring out his judgement on them. WOW!!
Aren’t you glad you serve a God who is merciful? The word mercy in the dictionary is defined as: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. The mercy of God was demonstrated in His treatment of both Jonah and the people of Nineveh in the book. How so?
- Mercy Demonstrated in Providing Salvation: The people of Nineveh were wicked people. They were a people who were far from God who weren’t even God’s chosen people. They penalty they deserved was judgment; but God showed mercy in saving them! He sent Jonah to speak to them, they repented and God relented! The people of Nineveh deserved condemnation for their life, yet God heard their cries and responded by relenting from sending judgment! Praise God!
By the way, He has done the same thing for us friend. We were great sinners and because of our sin we were separated from God and deserved the wrath of God, BUT because of God’s great mercy, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to take our punishment so that we could have a relationship with God again. Praise God for His mercy!
- Mercy Demonstrated in Providing Second Chances: God not only showed mercy in relenting from sending judgement to the people of Nineveh, He also showed mercy in the life of Jonah. Remember, Jonah wasn’t perfect in this narrative at all. As a matter of fact, he straight fled in the opposite direction from where God was calling him to go when God called him. He deliberately disobeyed God. He suffered the consequences but in the midst of it, he repented and God freed him from the fish. Even more than that, God called him again to go to Nineveh. God gave him a second chance!! WOW! Aren’t you glad that our God is a God of second chances? Jonah didn’t deserve to be called to do the work of the Lord again, but by God’s mercy and grace he was and stepped into his calling.
Same truth for us today friend; you may be running from God; you may have a checkered past; Listen you can choose to repent and follow God and allow for Him to use you. He is the God of second chances.
What does this mean for us today then church? May the reality of God being merciful lead us to worship today, and may we choose to exhibit the same heart and attitude towards those whom we encounter today!
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Dear Lord, thank you for being the God of mercy! I pray that I never forget or take for granted your mercy and love towards me. Help me to exhibit that same heart towards others in my speech and conduct. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
VERSE FOR TODAY:
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.