August 12, 2011

The God of Second Chances

Jonah 3

“Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
Jonah 3:9


Has Jonah learned his lesson?

After three days in the sour belly of a fish, Jonah is vomited onto dry land, and God gives him a second chance. God repeats his orders to preach to the people of Nineveh.

This time Jonah obeys, and he begins to preach. But something is puzzling. Something seems wrong. Jonah’s short sermon speaks only of judgment. There is no word of hope, no offer of forgiveness, no call for repentance. The same Jonah who has tasted God’s grace now has no grace to offer Nineveh.

Still, in spite of Jonah’s lack of effort, the entire city repents! Everyone, from the children playing in the streets to the king in the palace, repents of their sin and pleads for God’s mercy.

So the Word of God and his compassion shines through.

And when he sees Nineveh’s sorrow, God recognizes their repentance and spares the city. Our God is a God of grace!

This is great news for us all. When we repent and put our trust in Jesus, God withholds the judgment that is rightfully ours. And this compassion ought to change our attitude toward others so that we show mercy and compassion instead of being quick to judge.

Lord God, we know we deserve your judgment, but through Jesus we know your great love. When we see others hurting, help us to treat them with your compassion and love. Amen.

About the author — Rob Toornstra

Rob Toornstra has served as pastor of Sunnyslope Christian Reformed Church in Salem, Oregon, since 2006. When not busy with pastoral duties, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

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