The story of Jonah is a great example of God’s merciful grace for a few reasons:
In the book of Jonah chapter 2, he goes into detail of a remarkable repentance; he pours out his heart to God. God is hearing every word that is being projected by Jonah’s mouth and accepts his plea. He’s vomited out of the fish’s belly, into dry land, and is aligned instantly where he needs to be.
God speaks to Jonah the second time in regards to preaching to the people of Nineveh ; he begins his journey towards the city. As he enters, he starts to cry out, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
Jonah 3:5-6 (KJV)
5So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6For word came unto the king of Nineveh , and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
The Ninevites heeded to Jonah’s Word from God. They knew if they continued living their wicked ways, they were going to be destroyed. Every living thing in that city bowed down to God’s word. From the lowliest hog to the highest rank of the King went into fasting and put on sackcloth. God took notice of their repentance and they were spared.
This is a re-affirmation to us as believers and unbelievers that where ever we are in our walk of life, we can drop to our knees and God will be merciful enough to pick us up and work it all out for us. He did it for Jonah when he was in the belly of the fish and He did it for the Ninevites.
If we look into the history of Nineveh , this city was the home of the Assyrians. They worshipped other gods and were a very disobedient nation. But God gave them an opportunity to repent. That’s the marvelous characteristic of whom we serve. He is slow to anger and will give us chances beyond what we actually deserve.
Ezekiel 3:5-6 (AMP)
5For you are not sent to a people of a foreign speech and of a difficult language but to the house of Israel ; 6Not to many peoples of foreign speech and of a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to such people, they would have listened to you and heeded My words.
AND… the Ninevites heeded God’s Word.
Jonah 3:10 (AMP)
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said that He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them].
Jonah was displeased and angry of how God revoked the sentence. He complained to God and expressed how he knew God would be merciful and that’s why Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh .
Exodus 34:6 (AMP)
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth…
What’s interesting about this story is that God’s mercy was good enough for Jonah’s situation but it wasn’t good enough for the Ninevites?
Jesus says it himself that he’s not a respecter of persons; meaning that he’s not going to favor one person over the other. He will warn the righteous and the wicked. It’s up to us to obey the Lord and do His Will. If we don’t, then we have to suffer the consequences that are tied into that disobedience.
Matthew 5:45 (AMP)
To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].
Jonah was so upset that he just wanted to die from the grief. The Lord spoke to him and asked if he thinks it’s right to be angry. Jonah was silenced and walked out of the city.
Hebrews 13:17 (AMP)
Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either].