“..for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity, (4:2).
Four short chapters conveying a colossal message about God: God Who seeks after the wicked to offer the opportunity to turn to Him; God Who is supremely powerful over all His creation; God Who is patient with the defiantly disobedient; God Who accomplishes His purpose in His disciplined punishment; God Who hears and answers prayers; God Who is Marvelous in His Mercy; God Who alone gives salvation; God Who sends His Word; God Who relents from sending destruction; God Who Is Gracious and Compassionate, and not because any are worthy of such Grace and Compassion.
This is our God, Our Gracious and Compassionate God. And yes, many do choose the wisdom of man over God and relegate the story of Jonah to a fictional work of children’s literature that is just too impossible to believe. For how can a great fish swallow a man and after three days and three nights in its belly, vomit that man out alive?
But if God is God, then how can anything be impossible for Him?
“For nothing will be impossible with God,” (Luke 1:37).
And if God can’t appoint a great fish to swallow a man and then bring him out alive, how can God appoint a great salvation that brings us out of the belly of eternal death into His eternal life? And, lest we forget, Jesus did tell us that receiving His kingdom requires a childlike faith.
But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all,” (Luke 18:16).
Jonah was certainly acting like a child. But there is a huge difference between acting childish and being childlike. And I found myself wondering why God didn’t just give up on him. But in His Grace and Compassion, He brought the needed discipline to His childish prophet, assigning Jonah a time out, in the belly of a great fish.
When Jesus called us to childlike faith, He was not calling us to blind faith; for He has given so much proof and evidence. Jesus was explaining that entrance into His kingdom is granted to those with childlike faith who believe all the evidence He has provided in His Ways and His Word.
Childlike faith is convinced that because God is a Great God Who Is Immutable in His Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnibenevolence, then nothing is impossible for Him. Even being Gracious and Compassionate to those so undeserving.
Consider Him, Our Gracious and Compassionate God
- He is Our Gracious and Compassionate God, the God of second chances.
- Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, (3:1).
- He is Our Gracious and Compassionate God, the God Who sends warnings to the wicked.
- So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk.4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown,” (3:3-4).
- He is Our Gracious and Compassionate God, the God Who responds to repentance and relents from His judgment.
- When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it, (3:10).
- He is Our Gracious and Compassionate God, the God Who confronts us with truth in our childish and self-absorbed tantrums.
- But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (4:1-4).
- He is Our Gracious and Compassionate God, the God Who has compassion on His misguided creation.
- Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (4:10-11).
How do we respond to Him, Our Gracious and Compassionate God?
Childlike faith knows and accepts that God’s ways and thoughts are not ours; He is Gracious and Compassionate, and we are not.
Oh, that we would respond in childlike faith as we seek and call on Him while He may be found. For as we do, He has declared that He will be True to Himself, Our Gracious and Compassionate God.
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts, (Isaiah 55:6-9).
Jonah stubbornly clung to his own thoughts and ways, And because God was not going to kill his enemy, Jonah decided he would rather die than share the air he breathed with those wretched Ninevites. Sounds pretty extreme. But then, unforgiveness is like that… pretty extreme.
May we never forget, God has been so extremely Gracious and Compassionate to us. And when we are born again into His family, He calls His children to become like Him.
In closing today, let’s spend some time contemplating the teaching of our Gracious and Compassionate God and Savior. Let us prayerfully ask Him to grow us in a pure and childlike faith, that we would not run from Him but would answer His call to extend forgiveness the first time, that His Love would be perfected in us as we grow in our childlike faith in Him, Our Compassionate and Gracious God.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:43-28).