I have never prayed a prayer that I said God do not be merciful to me, I have never prayed a prayer and said God do not be merciful to anyone else or have I? Well I did not say those exact words but I did say God be fair with them, I did say God give them justice. That is the same as saying God don`t be merciful to them. We all want mercy not justice.
Have you heard of Jonah, a rebellious prophet who took the first submarine ride in history? Oddly enough, this man ended up surfing undersea currents in the belly of great fish precisely because he knew God to be gracious and merciful. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, which had become the greatest city in the world. Assyria had long posed a threat to Israel, and since Jonah was a Hebrew prophet, perhaps he could see that one day this powerful Gentile nation would destroy Israel. So when God told Jonah to call the Ninevites to repent, he feared that they really might.Therefore instead of heading to Nineveh, he fled in the opposite direction, to the seaport town of Joppa. There he booked passage to the even more distant region of Tarshish. He was looking out for his people, he wanted God to get those people, they were Gentile not Jews, how can God want those people saved, look how they are living. God they are not your chosen people. Why do you want them saved? God is the God of all people, He made us all, the people who you don`t like and the people who don`t like you, the people who are not your friends on Facebook. Your ex-wife, your boss that fired you. He loves them all. He did say in The Book of Romans 9:15 ” I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
Our Job is not to judge but to be obedient to God. The second time Jonah was obedient to God. He went and preached and they had the biggest revival in history. The Bible says the entire population of Nineveh from the king to the lowliest of servants put on sackcloth, began to fast and repented. God saw their change of heart and relented from sending destruction. So the book of Jonah reminds us what kind of God we serve. He is the sort of Lord who loves to show mercy. He said in 2 Chronicles 7:14 ” If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. That`s what happen to the city of Nineveh. Still while the repentance of the Ninevities greatly pleased God,it did not please Jonah at all. Can you imagine? A prophet used by God to spark the greatest revival in the history and bitterly complained about it, he did not like this turn of events, because from his perspective the recipients of God`s grace hailed from the wrong nation. Jonah wanted God to wipe the filthy Assyrians off the face of the earth and instead he spared them. This was too much for Jonah to handle. But then God showed Jonah a second lesson, God was merciful to him when the Lord cause a vine to grow over his head to give him a measure of relief from the blazing sun. Yes we want mercy for ourselves and justice and fairness for everyone else.
God is not fair and I am Glad about it, If He was Fair we would still be in our sin, gone to hell, but mercy saved us and grace and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
Bishop A.R. Thomas