Do you know why Jonah was swallowed by a whale? Or what happened to Jonah after the whale spat him back onto dry land?
You may have learned at an early age that God had told Jonah to preach to Nineveh, an evil and violent enemy of Israel. Instead Jonah went the opposite direction, and then boarded a ship that sailed further away from Nineveh. When a storm threatened to capsize that ship, the pagan sailors prayed to their gods until Jonah convinced them to throw him overboard because the LORD God was angry with him. Instead of letting him drown, God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah and bring him back to land. Jonah composed a whale of a prayer, then reluctantly went to Nineveh and told them to repent.
The forth and final chapter of this short book puts God on trial. Should Nineveh be offered grace or obliterated with fire and eternal damnation in hell? Throughout history a few people have participated in horrendous crimes against humanity, horrors like what the world saw in Nineveh. Should God offer them grace? Are you willing to be God’s agent to communicate grace and open a path to reconciliation even with such evil people? Or will you, like Jonah, end up on a distant hillside watching and waiting for God’s wrath to fall from the heavens?
I will have more to say about Jonah and forgiving our enemies at 8:15 AM and 10:00 AM on Sunday March 11th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
A Tip for Parents
Psalm 51 uses images from laundry:
Wash me with hyssop
until I am clean and whiter than snow.
— Psalm 51:7 (CEV)
Do you throw out clothes when they are dirty? No! You wash them.
Do you throw out people when they make mistakes? No! You forgive them so they might learn from their mistakes and you can become friends again.
When we make mistakes God forgives us. Baptism reminds us of God’s forgiveness that washes our mistakes away.