A glimpse of God’s plan for his followers
The book of Jonah tells the story of this prophet’s flight and how God stopped him and turned him around. Buy it is much more than a story of a man and a great fish—Jonah’s story is a profound illustration of God’s mercy and grace.
No one deserved God’s favour less than the people of Nineveh, Assyria’s capital. Jonah knew this. But he knew that God would forgive and bless them if they would turn from their sin and worship him. Jonah hated the Assyrians, and he wanted vengeance, not mercy. So he ran. Eventually, Jonah obeyed and preached in the streets of Ninevah, and the people repented and were delivered from judgement.
Then Jonah sulked and complained to God. “I knew that you area gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity”. In the end, God confronted Jonah about his self-centre’s values and lack of compassion, saying”,But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city”?
As we read Jonah, the full picture of God’s love and compassion, and realise that no one is beyond redemption. The gospel is for all who will repent and believe. Begin to pray for those who seem to be furthest from the kingdom, and look for ways to tell them about God.
Sometimes people wish that judgement and destruction would come upon sinful people whose wickedness seems to demand immediate punishment. But God is more merciful than we can imagine. God feels compassion for the sinners we want judged, And he devised plans to bring them to himself. What is your attitude toward those who are especially wicked? Do you want them destroyed? Or do you wish that they could experience God’s mercy and forgiveness?
God spared the sailors when they pleaded for mercy. God saved Jonah when he prayed from Inside the fish. God saved the people of Nineveh when they responded to Jonah’s preaching. God answers the prayers of those who call upon him. God will always work his will and he desires that all come to him, trust in Him, and be saved. We can be saved if we heed God’s warnings to us through his Word. If we respond in obedience, God will be gracious, and we will receive his mercy, not his punishment,
The words of the prophets stand in stark contrast to such misconceptions. God’s hatred is real —burning, consuming, and destroying. He hates sin, and he stands as the righteous judge, ready to mete out just punishment to all who defy his rule. God’s love is also real. So real that he sent his Son, the Messiah, to save and accept judgement in the sinner’s place. Love and hate are together—both unending, irresistible, and unfathomable.
In seven short chapters, Micah presents this true picture of God—the almighty Lord who hates sin and loves the sinner. Much of the book is devoted to describing God’s judgement on Israel(the northern kingdom), on Judah (the southern kingdom), and on all the earth. The judgement will come”because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel”. (1:5), and the prophet lists their despicable sins, including fraud (2:2), theft (2:8), greed (2:9), debauchery (2:11), oppression (3:3), hypocrisy (3:4), heresy(3:5), injustice(3;9), extortion and lying (6:12), murder (7:2), and other offences. God’s judgement will come.
God will judge the false prophets, dishonest leaders, and selfish priests in Israel and Judah. While they publicly carried out religious ceremonies, they were privately seeking to gain money and influence. To mix selfish motives with an empty display of religion is to prevent faith.
Don’t try to mix your own selfish desires with true faith in God. One day God will reveal how foolish it is to substitute anything for loyalty to him. Coming up with your own private blend of religion will prevent your faith.
Micah predicted ruin for all nations and and leaders who were oppressive towards others. The upper classes oppressed and exploited the poor. Yet no one was speaking against them or doing anything to stop them. God will not put up with such injustice.
We dare not ask God to help us while we ignore those who are needy and oppressed, or while we silently condone the actions of those who oppress them.
When God reveals the future, his purpose goes beyond satisfying our curiosity. He wants us to change our present behaviour because of what we know about the future. Forever begins now; and a glimpse of God’s plan for his followers should motivate us to serve him, no matter what the rest of the world may do.