Have you ever watched a child struggle with a task that you already know how to do? It’s so tempting to jump in and tell them how it should be done! Their way adds ten extra steps; your way is so much more efficient. But they need to figure it out for themselves. The lesson will stick better that way.
Chapter 1 is repeating itself. God is giving Jonah a command, a mission: preach God to those who don’t know him. Three days before, when God gave this command, Jonah turned and ran.
Jonah has learned a hard lesson: to obey God and do what he says is better than to rebel, but God isn’t an arbitrary master commanding obedience for the sake of obedience.
Jonah obeys this time, and what happens? An entire nation, an evil nation known for its brutality, repents when they hear Jonah’s message. Look at what the king declares in verse 9: “Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” This is the character of God: to love people and provide a way to be forgiven.
We who know the character of God rejoice that God is compassionate! His anger is for a moment, but his favor lasts for a lifetime (Psalm 30:5).
Prayer: God, thank you for your unending compassion! Jesus is the proof that you are compassionate, merciful, and loving. Help me to see and seize the opportunities to share your compassion with the people in my life! Amen.