“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10, NIV84)
Our God is an amazing God! He is patient and long-suffering! He loves His creatures, regardless of their offenses. He yearns for the return of their hearts and their lives, and when they do return, He welcomes them. It doesn’t matter if you’re Adam or Eve; Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob; Moses or Aaron; a wayward nation or a prodigal son; the nation of Nineveh or Jonah; Tom Donnelly or you. If you repent of your sins and turn to God, He will have compassion on you. How can I be so certain? Two reasons: first, He loves us unconditionally. He loves us because of who He is and because we are created in His image. He cannot deny Himself. Second, because I have personally experienced His compassion and forgiveness. Despite my rebellious nature, He has shown me His love and given me free forgiveness.
The wicked Ninevites experienced the same grace promised to all who repent of their sins and turn to God. What this means is that this grace is also available to you. I know it seems unbelievable. I know when you look inside, you don’t see much there worthy of redeeming. Pick up your head. Look at the cross of Jesus Christ and know how much God loves you. He didn’t just erase the sins of Jonah, those of the Ninevites, the sins of you and me. No! He laid them and their consequences upon His own Son, our Savior, Jesus. God touched our physical world with His love and grace. We don’t have to believe and hope in God’s love from a distance. Jesus walked the very Earth you and I walk. He experienced pain, death and sorrow, but He came to bring hope, forgiveness and peace. He died on the cross and rose again from the dead to assure us of God’s love and grace. Our God is, and always will be, compassionate toward those who call upon Him with repentant hearts.
Imagine the awe the Ninevites must have had when they realized that God had heard their cries and was moved to compassion, rather than wrath and anger. May we stand at the foot of the cross, gaze over at the empty tomb, and have the same awe!