God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 7 - Jonah: God's Mercy Includes All, to His Chosen People's Chagrin

Today’s Reading: Jonah

The Message

English Standard Version

Today's reading is the entire book of Jonah (book 18). It is the story of God's great mercy and His Chosen People's stubbornness and unwillingness to share their God.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Don't focus on the fish. Focus on the man in the fish.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God asked Jonah to tell Nineveh their sins were great. Jonah ran the opposite way to the sea.
God caused a great storm, destroying the boat. After much debate, the men threw Jonah overboard. A large fish ate him.
Jonah asked God for forgiveness. He received a second chance.
Jonah told Nineveh they would be destroyed. The entire city repented: from king to peasant. God removed their destruction.
Jonah angrily yelled at God's Mercy. A plant shaded him. The next night it died. Jonah was irate. God told Jonah that emotions change quickly. That is why God changed His Mind.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

No one is exempt from God's Punishment or Mercy.

Nineveh was not part of the Promise. They had no special covenant with God. Yet God told Jonah their lives had become so bad He could no longer ignore them. There is no excuse, no one is exempt from God's punishment for their mistakes.
However, when the entire city repented God changed His Mind and decided not to destroy them after all. God did not protect them because He had a promise to uphold. God protected them because no one is exempt from God's mercy; anyone who repents will have their relationship to God set right.

Jonah never understood God's mercy.

I would love for the story of Jonah to be a redemptive tale of a man who learned God's mercy for others and glorified God. Unfortunately, we get a story of a spoiled man who only wanted to preach to Nineveh because God stopped him from going the opposite way. When God removed Nineveh's punishment, Jonah furiously cried out for death. God's Chosen People naturally forget God has mercy on others.
Regrettably, Jonah's story sounds too familiar. Our first reaction when we see a person stuck in a bad lifestyle is to run. However, when we can no longer run and God sets things right in their life we feel His Mercy is being diluted. That is not true at all! God's mercy is awesome because it covers everyone!

Jonah may have feared reprisal if he had returned home.

Reading through the Bible in a year helped me put this story into context. Jonah is the same as yesterday's Jonah. He lived during the age of Jeroboam the Younger (or right before). The people did not like God and hated their neighbors even more. If Jonah had returned and told everyone the people in Nineveh were saved because he preached to them, He may have been executed as a traitor. This may be why Jonah was so angry and asked God vociferously for death. What great irony! The very people God called to be a light to the nations now become angry when God forgives non-chosen people. God's Chosen People often focus on being chosen instead of why they were chosen.
It is sad to see that we can become so comfortable being God's Chosen People that we forget we are called to set things right in this world. It is also sad to see we forget how God set things right with us and allow other things to make us blind to His influence in our lives. We are called to set things right on this earth, not revel in being "better" than the rest of the world.

Do you glorify God for His Mercy or become jealous at God including others?

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