Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[a] three days’ journey in breadth.[b] 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 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.
This Sunday’s Old Testament reading is from the book of Jonah. The book of Jonah talks about how God had a job for the prophet Jonah to go to the wicked city of Nineveh and tell them about God so they could turn from their wicked ways, repent and be saved. One of the famous things that the book of Jonah is known for is Jonah’s absolute refusal time and again to preach the Good News to the City of Nineveh so big was the grudge he held against the people there. This grudge was so big that even when the people of Nineveh were spared Jonah was angry that God didn’t wipe them right off the face of the planet!
When we read about the prophet Jonah, it is a telling tale for our own lives. Are there people in our own lives that we would rather just go away? Or ones for whom our own anger and hurt is so deep that we would rather that God punished them with impunity? Or are there some people that have hurt us so badly that we say in our hearts that if they get punished, they get what they deserved and the sooner the better?
The lesson we can learn from Jonah in all of this was that despite all of His anger against the people of Nineveh it couldn’t stop God’s grace from getting through and the one who ended up suffering in the end was Jonah and not from God but suffering he heaped upon himself.
There is also a lesson about forgiveness we can learn from the reluctant prophet Jonah. Not only should we learn to forgive because God has forgiven us but we also forgive because it frees our own soul from bondage.
Know that God’s forgiveness is for you in Jesus and learn a lesson from the prophet Jonah, probably not the lesson he would want us to learn but the one God would. By God’s Grace keeping learning to forgive as God has forgiven. If you get a chance, read the Old Testament book of Jonah. It’s a short story, but I think you’ll get a lot out of it.