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A God of mercy, compassion
February 7, 2011
by Pastor Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

For many, the book of Jonah in the Bible is about a prophet who was swallowed by a big fish. However, God sent the ravaging storm and the enormous fish in order to get His prophet going in the right direction. He was not going to let Jonah escape.

God was determined to have His way. Therefore, after Jonah was thrown overboard, swallowed by a fish, and spewed out on land, what other choice did he have? When the word of the Lord came to him a second time, he obeyed and went to Nineveh.

The account of Jonah reveals how God wants to deal with us. He is not out to clobber us. Despite our rebellion and wickedness, He is determined to show us His mercy and compassion. That is the type of God He wants to be for you.

Consider all that God did for Nineveh. He could have wiped them out. After all, the people of the city were wicked and violent. However, instead of dealing with them as their sins deserved, He sent a prophet to warn them. As a matter of fact, God was so determined to send a prophet, that He put Jonah into the belly of a fish for three days and three nights.

God is determined to do the same for you. He is determined to save you from judgment and doom, as well. In our case, He did not put a prophet into the belly of a fish. Instead, He put his only Son into the belly of the earth for three days.

Because of Jesus, there is no reason to doubt the mercy and compassion God has for you. Jesus took the judgment and doom of your sins.

Unlike Jonah, however, Jesus did not try to flee. He knew what was going to happen to him. He knew that he would have to endure pain, suffering, humiliation, and death in order to save us. That is why he was in such anguish while he prayed in Gethsemane.

And, when Judas arrived with a band of armed men, he did not run away. He did not call on legions of angels to rescue him. Instead, he submitted himself to them. As a result, he was falsely accused, handed over to Pontius Pilate, rejected by his people, sentenced to die on a cross, and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

Yet, that lifeless body that was placed in the belly of the earth would come forth on the third day. Because Jesus lives, we can be assured that God will not deal with us according to our sins. Jesus took care of that for us. Instead, we now have His forgiveness according to this grace and mercy.

This means that God is not against you. He is not out to smite you. He has love and compassion for you. That is why He sent His one and only Son. He sent His Son because that is the kind of God He is determined to be for you.