Loathing God’s Mercy
Jonah 4:2 (ESV) – And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster….”
Our fallen nature causes us to be backwards than what we should be. We often love things we should hate. We sometimes hate the things we should love. This is why our hearts struggle to stay engaged in reading Scripture, but easily rush toward the crude joking in the office.
Today’s passage shows this on display in the book of Jonah. The LORD sent Jonah to Nineveh to pronounce judgment if they did not repent. Jonah didn’t initially want to go to the city. He disobeyed the LORD by buying a ticket for a city in the opposite direction. That’s indicator number one in the book of our hearts not reflecting that of God’s heart. After the LORD intervenes and gets Jonah to Nineveh, he pronounces God’s warning of judgment. The people respond by genuine repentance throughout the city.
The LORD displayed mercy to the people of Nineveh. He relented from the disaster He was going to bring because they turned from their wickedness and sought the LORD. But Jonah did not like this. He was angry that God relented. We read in our text today, “And he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.’”
Do you see Jonah’s heart on display again? He didn’t obey God when he was commanded to go to the city. Then after God relents, he’s angry about that. Sometimes our hearts showcase their ugliness more clearly than other times. This is one such case. He knew God was gracious and merciful and didn’t want the Ninevites to know it.
This passage, and the whole book of Jonah, shows how twisted our hearts often are. We don’t love what we should love. We don’t hate what we should hate. It’s like clockwork.
Whatever honors God is
not likely our natural inclination.
This recognition should
breed contrition in us.
We should recognize it and confess it.
“LORD, help us to grow in love with your ways. Strip us of our wicked desires that war against You.” May God sanctify us.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does the book of Jonah demonstrate the human heart so clearly?
- What are some examples in our world today of despising God’s ways and loving what He despises?
- How does this devotional challenge you? What is a take-away you can apply?
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