December 19 – Importance of the Old Testament – Appreciating God’s Grace

Read Jonah 3:1-4:11

A story we all know too well from Sunday school is that of Jonah…not to mention the song that goes with it.

When we think of the Old Testament, we may not think of a “man of God” hating God for loving God’s enemies. Jonah was a little different than the other prophets called by God to send a message.  The book of Jonah is, as “The Bible Project” calls it; “a subversive story about a rebellious prophet who hates God for loving His enemies”.

The book of Jonah is a huge example of the grace that God bestows on those who may not see eye-to-eye with Him. The people of Nineveh are ones that God states “Does not know their right or left”. They do not know any better and yet Jonah takes it upon himself to be angry with the Lord for sparing the lives of people He created and cared about because they held no standard as Jonah thought they should. He wants these people to do good in order to earn God’s grace. When, really, since the beginning of creation, God’s grace has been offered so many times when it has not been deserved.

We see first-hand in the book of Jonah that God cares deeply about His creation and wants to have a relationship with them.

Three times in the book of Jonah, we see God’s grace at hand.

First, after Jonah runs away from God’s instructions (literally), he gets onto a boat with a group of pagans. When God gets their attention, Jonah may think, “Why live and go to Nineveh, when I can end it here?” So, he nobly (sarcasm) offers himself to spare the pagans on the boat. But the pagans are now aware and have witnessed the power of God and repent.

Secondly, God not only spares the pagans but He allows Jonah’s life to be spared in the belly of a large fish. After 3 days in darkness and a conversation with the Lord, Jonah agrees to obey and his life is spared.

Thirdly, there is Nineveh. A pagan, worldly city which held no regard for the power and might of God. God, loving them and wanting a relationship with them, spared their lives.

The book of Jonah introduces God’s grace in a great way, but He also shows us His love for His creation.

Because of His love, there is grace. Because of His love, there is Jesus.

“So, the Lord said, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in the night and perished in the night. But may I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?”

How many times do we forget that God will use our differences to bring us closer to Him? As we don’t see eye-to-eye with everyone around us, I have to believe that God’s grace is for all. He loved the WORLD so much that He GAVE His ONLY Son.

We must love; we must show grace in order to show Jesus.

Kelly Lawson

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