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by Ron Rose
God directed the prophet Jonah to go to the wicked Assyrians with a clear message of judgment, but Jonah didnt want to go. He didnt fear them or their rejection. He feared success! Assyria was an enemy, and Jonah suspected they might repent and that God would forgive them. Jonah didnt want to help save them. Thinking he could avoid delivering the message, Jonah tried to run away from God. But when Jonah found himself in the pit of a fishs stomach, in the pit of the sea, and near death, he repented and begged God to save him.
Their repentance didnt last longer than a generation, however. Decades later, the prophet Nahum once again announced Gods judgment on Nineveh. Nahum praised Gods patience, not as weakness but as strength, and he assured the Assyrians that the almighty God always punishes the guilty. When evil is punished and destroyed, God is glorified. They could not expect to ultimately escape the judgment for their sins.
Reflection: When Jonah was caught in the stomach of the fish, he was glad God was quick to listen and to forgive. But he didnt want God responding to his enemy Nineveh in the same way. Praise God that he is the God of every nation, that he is a just God, and that he treats us not as we deserve but with infinite love and mercy. Praise God that his response to our repentance is one of his most unhumanlike characteristics.
Author: Ron Rose
Publication Date: December 18, 2001
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