Read Jonah 3:6-10. History records many astonishing effects of a genuine move of God in many times and places, Revivals change individuals, families, neighbourhoods, prisons, addicts, governments.

  • It involved deep humility before God (v.6), in an appeal for pardon and mercy. Mercy is not ‘a human right’ – if we all claimed our ‘rights’ and got what we deserved, we’d all l be in hell right now! Mercy triumphs over judgement in revivals. God is more eager to save lives than destroy them. We should be eager to do the same!
  • This even affected their animals (v.7-9) – animals suffer and are negatively affected by our sin, why should they not benefit from our repentance and liberation from that sin? John Wesley said, “When a man gets converted, even his dog should know it!”
  • By God’s grace, this city was spared for another 150 years (v.10). There is no other example in the OT of such a profound and wide-scale spiritual reversal of fortunes, considering the sheer numbers involved and the profound changes that happened. It shows that even if our presentation of God’s message is hesitant and poor, the power ultimately doesn’t lie in the method, or the preacher,  but in the message and the Spirit of God. God owns his word! Jonah’s ministry was a success – in spite of Jonah!

But not a total success, or was it? The ambiguity centres upon God’s servant Jonah, who had set the fuse of this ‘prophetic time-bomb’ that was slowly burning down to blast Nineveh off the face of the earth and to hell and back’ if he had his way! He wanted God to  ‘waste’ all of Nineveh’s people, until only a sticky stain was left on the smouldering site of Assyria’s incinerated, smouldering rubble. But some time during the next forty days, God changed his mind. God did not back up Jonah’s prophecy and made him appear totally mistaken, even ‘looking like a fool’ in Jonah’s own estimation. God totally refused to  ‘nuke’ Nineveh!

We sometimes map the future in our prophetic speculations, and then God forces us to scrap our charts. Instead of keeping his word, God relents, or delays the destruction he had planned, and gives us all more time to change, prosper, and advance, instead!

Mercy is God withholding from us what we do deserve (wrath), and giving us what we don’t deserve (favour). Now I ask you, what is your personal reaction to God’s kind mercy? Tell him.