It almost passed me by. The Sunday before last was the commemoration of Jonah. I tend to think of Jonah as a joke if I think about him at all but the assessment needs evaluation. One of the great exaltations of God in the Old Testament comes from Jonah who gets angry with the Lord for not wiping out this wicked and creepy city. He says that is why he ran away to Tarshish in the first place because he knew God was gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. There was nothing redeemable about Nineveh, the city to which he was sent. The ruins of Nineveh are across the river from the Iraqi city of Mosul where so much more blood and treasure have been spilt. Even some of the foulest creatures on earth, ISIS went to the ruins and started tearing things up that were left over from the wicked reign of Nineveh. Those who rejoiced in slaughter acted as if they wanted to forget the slaughter caused by Nineveh and erase it from history. Maybe it was just bad guys trying to take over the block and make people forget the other bad guys, but Nineveh was a wicked and bloodthirsty place.
Jonah gets mad at God for being gracious and merciful and slow to anger. He mourns the loss of a gourd and would let 120,000 people plus “much cattle” die. The book is all about God’s choosing. I marvel at how God could choose Jonah and then I marvel at how God chose Nineveh and then I marvel that he chose me. Luther remarks about that too. He says, ‘I remain in the kingdom of grace when I do not despair of God’s mercy, no matter how great my sin may be, but resolutely pin mind and conscience to the belief that there is still grace and forgiveness for me.. Divine ‘mercy asserts itself and proves stronger than all wrath’.