Jonah’s journey, like ours was a tool in changing the minds of the people he preached too, God presented a situation which demanded an urgency which leads to action, and in their response we see the character of God revealed in:
God’s Great Embrace instead of the People’s Great Evil (Jonah 3:9-10) 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. In the second century a heresy started to creep into the church when Marcion of Sinope claimed that the God of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) wasn’t the same as the God of the New Testament. He determined that the God of the OT was a God of justice and anger, but here in the midst of the OT, we see God both fully just and fully loves. His justice and love conditioned on our response to his Grand Offer of new life, our urgency at grabbing the grace presented. We get a picture of a GREAT EMBRACE, with life and death hanging in the balance, God welcomed a people who had nothing going for them into relationship. God was not solely the god of Israel but reminded Jonah he was the God over all creation. When we are getting something GREAT from God, we are able to turn down things of this world.
GRACE as one author penned it is simple- God’s Riches AT Christ’s Expense. God lavishes his love upon us. When Billy Graham was driving through a small southern town, he was stopped by a policeman and charged with speeding. Graham admitted his guilt, but was told by the officer that he would have to appear in court.
The judge asked, “Guilty, or not guilty?” When Graham pleaded guilty, the judge replied, “That’ll be ten dollars — a dollar for every mile you went over the limit.”
Suddenly the judge recognized the famous minister. “You have violated the law,” he said. “The fine must be paid–but I am going to pay it for you.” He took a ten dollar bill from his own wallet, attached it to the ticket, and then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner! “That,” said Billy Graham, “is how God treats repentant sinners!” Progress Magazine, December 14, 1992.
God’s grace by its very nature is not reserved for the saints locked away from the world, but for the sinners striving to live in a way that brings forth a new world. How powerful would it be if we chased after grace as urgently as we chase after good deals while shopping on Black Friday or grabbed a hold of grace like people grab ahold of a great business opportunity? The thing about God’s embrace rather than our evil desires— D.L. Moody realized “a man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next six months or take sufficient air into his lungs at once to sustain life for a week to come. We must draw upon God’s boundless stores of grace from day to day as we need it.”
The Great Embrace doesn’t become a once in a life-time interaction, but a daily sustaining breath, a daily surpassing hope, and an eternal supply of grace! Your life may look like a battle field of past mistakes, but GRACE—God’s Riches AT Christ’s Expense still remains. As I kid, I remember seeing on our wall a poem that ended with a person asking Jesus “‘How much do you love me?’ And Jesus said, ‘This much.’ Then He stretched out His arms and died.” Today, don’t forget that great embrace with humanity, with our condition, and with you!