The Word of the Lord came to Jonah saying, “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will give you.” Jonah 3:1
Many people see the God of the Old Testament as a God of judgment and not a God of love. It is as if God decided He needed a makeover, and that’s why Jesus came. Jesus is the meek and mild version, the loving, forgiving God. God 2.0!
The Book of Jonah is one of the oldest books of the Bible, written in the 8th C AD. The problem of Jonah was that God wanted him to warn the Ninevites, who were fierce enemies of the Israelites, that He was going to judge them.
The Ninevites were a violent, cruel people, known to torture their enemies. Their King would bring home the severed head of a conquered city and display it on a pole on the gate of Nineveh to commemorate his victory. There it would stay until it rotted. Sometimes generals of the opposing army would be flayed alive and bled like a lamb. These and many more atrocities made Jonah balk at obeying God. Instead he wanted God to exact revenge upon these wicked people.
But God insisted that Jonah announce to the Ninevites His message of judgment. When Jonah finally obeyed, the King, that same horrible King and his people, repented and put on sackcloth and sat on ashes. God relented and Jonah complained bitterly.
“I knew You were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding with steadfast love. I knew how easily You could cancel Your plans for destroying these people!” (Jonah 4:2)
Is this the Old Testament God? Yes! The Father calls ALL people to Him, ESPECIALLY the wicked and the seemingly hopeless cases. Sounds exactly like Jesus. After all, they are one and the same God. Full of love and mercy.
This Lent, let us draw close to Him who forgives any sin, and calls us back to Himself.