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09
God's Grace - Jorge Sedaca
May 9, 2017

By Jorge Sedaca, Executive Director

“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious. He prayed to the Lord: “Please, Lord, isn’t this what I said while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster.” 
Jonah 4:1-2

The story of the Prophet Jonah is one of the most well-known accounts, whether you are a believer or a non-believer in the God of the Bible. If nothing else, you’ve probably heard the part about the great fish that first swallowed Jonah and then vomited him out onto the shore! This is a true story you can read for yourself in the Old Testament (Hebrew scriptures).

How do we know this story is true? Firstly, we know it’s true because the account is part of the Biblical text. If you believe the Bible is the Word of God, then you believe that this story – as everything else in the Holy Scriptures – is true. Secondly, we know the story of Jonah really happened because Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, referred to it as true. As well, two gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, recorded Yeshua’s mention of Jonah in His teachings: Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-30. So, if you believe in Jesus and His teachings, you will believe that the story of Jonah is true.

But the most important part of the story of Jonah is not the incident with the fish. The main thrust of the story is God’s grace. Let’s summarize the account:

God asked Jonah to preach repentance in Nineveh to avoid destruction.

At first, Jonah didn’t want to go.  But, when the fish swallowed him,
Jonah finally got the message and went.

He preached in Nineveh, the people listened to his message and repented before God.

So God kept His word – just as He always does.
He forgave the people of the city and did not destroy it.

Jonah, on the other hand, was upset that God forgave them and didn’t destroy them!

Go figure!

Here are some lessons we can learn from this Biblical story:

1.      God is Gracious (Jonah 4:2 - merciful; Hebrew El Channun). Someone once said that “mercy is not getting what we deserve, and grace is getting what we don’t deserve.” According to God’s Word, the Bible, each of us is a sinner before God.  We must pay the penalty for our sin and deserve eternal death as our punishment (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). But, by God’s grace, we are forgiven through the sacrifice Yeshua paid on the cross when He took our place and our blame, and paying the penalty in full (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-9). That is God’s grace and mercy! 

2.      God is Compassionate (Jonah 4:2). To be compassionate is not just to feel badly about a situation or a person; it is to do something about it. That is the way Jesus showed compassion. Matthew 9:35-36 tells us He saw the people in need and did practical things to solve those needs (He taught, proclaimed, healed and exercised real compassion). 

3.      God is Slow to Anger (Jonah 4:2). Notice that this verse does not say that God doesn’t get upset, angry or is angerless. Do you remember when Jesus was at the Jerusalem temple and He ejected everyone, turning over the tables of the money changers (Matthew 21:12)? He was pretty upset! This verse in Jonah says that God is slow to anger, meaning He is patient with us because He knows we are sinners. He wants to give us an opportunity to repent and change. 

4.      God is Abundant in Loving-Kindness (or rich in faithful love; Jonah 4:2; Hebrew chesed). Other terms used here are sufficient, endless, rich in grace, abundant in grace. Do you remember the words of the old hymn,

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now I’m found,

Was blind but now I see.”

God’s love and grace are never ending! 

5.      God Relents Concerning Calamity (Jonah 4:2). Other translations use inflicting punishment or sending disaster, instead of calamity. God is at the same time forgiving and all-knowing. He doesn’t change His mind, He doesn't make mistakes and nothing takes Him by surprise. That’s why He is God! When He is being righteous He is loving, and when He is loving He is being righteous.

This passage tells us some of the very important attributes of God. But what about you and me? Do we reflect God’s attributes and character in our lives?

It is my prayer and desire that every day I become more of God and less of myself. I wish to live in such a way that, when others look at me, they will see Jesus, Yeshua, my Messiah, Saviour and Lord!

This is my prayer and desire for you as well.

Filed under: Devotional Study

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