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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflections on the book of Jonah - chapter 3

In this chapter Jonah gets a second chance.  It starts very matter factly.  It is as if nothing has happened.  God speaks to Jonah and tells him to go to Niniveh and he will tell him what to do next.  Jonah does it without hesitation.  God has just given him a second chance.  Why? God does not tell us.  He wants to. Period. Does God need to give us explanation for everything He does? No.  He didn't give the answers to Job. He doesn't here either.  Does God always give second chances? when I was reading Surprised by Grace the author says God doesn't always give second chances. He gives examples such as Ananias and Saphira in the book of Acts.  It is true if we see second chances as part of events, big events in our lives.  But I believe we get second chances every day.  Lamentations 3 says that it is because of God's mercy that we are not consumed. They are new every morning.  Every day we get to start anew and have a choice to live for God or live for ourselves.  God's mercy makes this possible. It is not because of us that we get second chances, it is because God has compassion on us and remembers that we are just dust. He is a compassionate Father (Psalm 103).  He cares for all of us even when we do wrong.

This is the case here.  Jonah gets a second chance as a rebellious child that he is but also Nineveh gets a second chance.  Jonah begins to speak the message. He had to walk three days worth saying, "In forty days God will bring you down." Nothing is said as to what they needed to do. I wonder if he was just selecting what to say or if he said more than that.  I imagine that he was just walking and saying it without much passion.  Some see him passionately speaking out but I doubt it.  He knew that God was giving them a second chance and he did not want them to have it. After all, he knew that the king was a vicious man who had killed so many in battle, even children.  He had killed people and skinned them. He had no reason to like them.  Do we not feel the same way about some people we know?

What happened next probably blew Jonah's top off (as we shall see later).  People believed the message, believed in God and repented (the putting on of ashes, torn clothing symbolizes this) of their evil ways. Even the king heard the message and believed and repented of his evil ways. He even proclaimed a day of fasting and calling out to God that perhaps would move Him to not destroy them.  God hears them. God chances his mind (repents). He saves them. Not often do we have a whole city turning to God but it happened here.

It strikes me how God uses imperfect people.  He used Jonah even with his disobedience and bad attitude (bad personality).  He can use me. He can use you. He gives us his mercy every day to start anew. Today!
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