But the LORD said, …And should I not pity Nineveh…in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left?’ Jonah 4:10-11
You could get seriously dizzy by reading the story of Jonah. That story turns around more times than a dog when it lies down.
First, Jonah is happily going about his life as a prophet of God to Israel, but then God turns Jonah’s call and tells him to go to Nineveh, a city that is filled with every form of abominable evil you can imagine.
Second, Jonah starts with an amazing relationship with God. He hears His voice. He walks in His presence. He delivers His word to the people. But then there’s a turn, and a terrible one at that. Jonah turns his heart away from the Lord and heads in the opposite direction from Nineveh.
Third, God turns Jonah around by stopping his rebellious voyage with a storm. Jonah turns himself in and is thrown into the sea. God rescues him from the waves, but his new situation isn’t much better, as he’s now stuck in the belly of a whale.
Fourth, Jonah has another turn of heart inside the whale. He decides it’s better to obey God and repents, so God has the whale spit Jonah out and calls him again to deliver the word to Nineveh. Jonah goes, and from the moment he steps foot in the city, people start turning from their sin.
Fifth, it takes Jonah three days to walk through the city and by the time he leaves, the king himself has decreed that not even animals get to eat or drink until they know God had turned from His judgment. The whole city has turned around completely.
Sixth, Jonah ditches the city and parks himself on a hillside, hoping God will still destroy the city. His heart has now turned completely back to where he started, knowing that God is a God of mercy, yet not wanting God to turn His mercy toward Israel’s enemies.
Seventh and eighth-the end of the story is the most dizzying part yet-Jonah turns grateful when God makes a plant grow to shade him from the burning sun, and then he turns bitter and angry again when the plant withers the next day.
In all this turning and changing, let’s not miss the one thing that never changes-God’s heart toward people. Through every change and every situation, God is simply waiting for someone, anyone, to turn to Him so He can show them mercy and lovingkindness.
Will you turn your heart to the Lord today?
Prayer Lord God,
Thank You that You always desire to give me mercy and lovingkindness! I turn to You, looking to You alone and not to the things of this world.