Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city that was located on the eastern bank of the Tigris river in modern day Northern Iraq. Jonah was tasked by God to warn the city that it was to be destroyed because its sinfulness angered God. Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah had other plans and decided to hide from God by taking a boat to the city of Tarshish. God knowing Jonah’s heart punished him by creating a big storm, so that he would get thrown overboard and be swallowed by a big fish. In the belly of the fish Jonah cried out to God with much sorrow and repentance, and so the Lord freed Jonah and took mercy on him (Jonah 2). Jonah then goes to Nineveh, warns the city, yet they repent like Jonah did, so the Lord has mercy and does not destroy the city (Jonah 3:6-10).
Jonah seeing that the city did not get destroyed becomes angry and bitter toward the Lord. Jonah feeling as though his journey was all a waste of time cries, “Just kill me if you are going to treat me like this Lord.” Subsequently, he acts like a child by sitting down, pouting, and waiting till what he wants to happen, happens. While Jonah waits, God grows a tree to shade Jonah’s head from the sun and then kills it. Jonah is once again displeased at God, and so God explains why Jonah is wrong to be angry about Nineveh and the plant (Jonah 4:10-11). Nineveh was spared this time, but in Nahum, just two books ahead it tells a different story. Mankind are in the same positions as Jonah and Nineveh.
Nineveh acted in wickedness, then repented to the Lord, and then chose to fall back into its sinful ways and was destroyed (Ephesians 4:17-24). Jonah knew of God but did not truly know God in his heart. Psalm 1 explains that a sinful person’s fate is destruction. It does not matter if they are a Christian who is falling back to old ways or is a someone who has not accepted God into their heart. Contrary to this, the righteous person is going to live eternally, be blessed in every season, and know the comfort and peace that comes with true faith. So, what does it take to be a righteous person? Grace with faith (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Grace is an understanding that Christ died willingly for us. Mankind did not deserve such mercy, nor do we, nor will we, and the only way we can accept this mercy is by pledging our lives to God in baptism. The grace that comes with baptism clears our slates with God and can only happen because Jesus loves you dearly. The faith in baptism is in one’s pledge to God before they are submerged. Faith is an understanding that God keeps us free from sin when we obey His commands and follow His teachings. God teaches us that we are to make Him our first priority! When a person puts God’s feelings, teachings and love first everything else in life will fall into place and they will be able freely give that grace to others (Matthew 22:36-40, 18:23-35). Even when going through the trials like the year 2020 grace is shown to you by God. A situation or outcome may not physically go the way is desired, but they can all be used as opportunities to grow in spiritual strength (1 Peter 5:1-10). The question then becomes if you will become bitter like Jonah, bitter to God like Nineveh, or choose to be Godly?
Inspired by: Jonah 1-4; Ephesians 4; Hebrews 12:15; Colossians 3:18-20