Jonah 4:2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
Jonah’s run from responsibility was not primarily an act of rebellion – Jonah was so consumed with vengeance and revenge against his enemies he refused to obey. If Jonah would have been called to deliver the final judgement to Nineveh he would have run to do his desired duty. Jonah knew from personal experience that God is gracious and slow to anger, but he didn’t want it offered to those who had treated Israel so ruthlessly. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” – this Beatitude certainly applied to Jonah and has even greater meaning for us. We can readily offer the Good News to those we find reasonable and needy, but are we as ready to graciously share with the proud, arrogant, mean and wicked. The message must be presented graciously and mercifully to our enemies as well as those we are comfortable. ‘Karma’ may give us some comfort that our enemies will ‘get what they deserve’ – but it is not our privilege, responsibility or right to avoid anyone simply because we don’t like them or because they have wronged us. God is the ultimate judge and arbiter of justice – we have been commanded to emulate Christ – “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Christ’s forgiveness is not measured by our degree of goodness or sin – it is offered unconditionally to anyone who accepts their own failing and accepts His sacrificial gift.
Read through the Bible in one year – Feb. 27 – Mk. 6:1-29; Num. 15-16