Credit:Deepak Sethi

Jonah 1:1–17 ‘Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.’ (v3)

In this well-known story, Jonah receives instructions from God to deliver a warning message to the city of Nineveh. God has seen their ‘wickedness’ (v1).

However, instead of obeying, Jonah runs away. The ship he’s on gets into trouble, he is found to be the reason, the sailors throw him overboard, and Jonah is swallowed whole by a large fish (v17).

Inside the fish for three days and nights, he calls out to God, is rescued, and eventually fulfils his commission – with some reluctance. The people of Nineveh repent, and God shows them His compassion.

Chapter 4 reveals that Jonah had fled because he knew God was ‘slow to anger and abounding in love’ (v2); clearly, the prophet felt Nineveh deserved God’s judgement and didn’t want the people to experience mercy. But Jonah receives a lesson from God about how much He wants to extend His grace.

Sometimes it’s easier to run from something that God has asked of us, rather than face it and obey.

Perhaps we question God about why we should be kind or show forgiveness to those who have hurt or offended us; maybe we don’t think they’re worthy of our compassion – or God’s!

But we need to remember, with Jonah, that the God we serve is a God who wants to offer mercy, even to the undeserving (2 Pet. 3:9).

Jonah was saved from the belly of the fish, but he didn’t think God’s lavish grace should extend to saving others he judged unworthy. I wonder what that attitude says to us? Just how big do we think God’s love is?


A Prayer To Make:
‘Lord, how good You are, and how compassionate and gracious! Your love is lavish and undeserved. Help me to remember to be merciful, as You are merciful. Amen.’

An Action To Take:
Matthew 7:2 says we will be judged as we have judged others. How might this encourage us to be compassionate to those who have hurt us? Discuss with someone you trust.

Scripture To Consider:
Exod. 34:1–7; Ps. 86:1–17; Matt. 18:21–35; Jas 2:1–13

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.