Jonah preaches. Nineveh repents. God relents. Jonah pouts. "I knew it!" "I knew that You respond graciously to repentant people!" said an angry Jonah to the LORD. Actually Jonah responds with these words, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm" (Jonah 4:2).
Jonah had prophesied in Northern Israel with little to show for his ministry. In fact, the kings of Israel often responded to the prophets of God by killing them. His simple message to a pagan nation, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (3:4) brings deep repentance: "So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them" (3:4-5). And what does God do? He relents from the judgment that He intended.
God is slow to anger. The phrase "slow to anger" may be translated, "long of nostril." Think of how the nostrils of an angry person flare out when their anger becomes intense. God's nostrils, however, take a long time to flare up before He acts in judgment. If God demonstrates His compassion and "length of nostril" to a pagan nation, how "long of nostril" will He be with His own people? 209 years-a long time! He sends prophet after prophet, year after year, with message after message to His own stubborn people. Yet, they resist His every overture.
The Apostle Paul describes love, "Love suffers long and is kind" (1 Cor. 13:4). The Apostle Peter highlights God's longsuffering, "The LORD is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). God's love often gives man years to repent before he experiences the judgment of God. Only repentance of sin and turning to God avert God's judgment.
Nineveh repents. Israel doesn"t. A hundred years later the Ninevites (Assyrians) revert to the sins of their forefathers and take the stubborn and unrepentant Israelites into captivity.
What does King Amaziah do that reveals his reverence for God's Word?
Why does the prophet confront King Amaziah, and how does the king respond?
Though Amaziah fears God at the beginning of his reign, why does he apostatize at the end?
What influence does Jonah have in Israel before God calls him to preach to the Ninevites?
Kind Uzziah was a highly successful military king. Why does the LORD strike him with leprosy?
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