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  • Lea Hartline

God Forgives Our Enemies

Updated: Jun 28, 2022


Has someone ever hurt you or someone you loved so bad that the very idea of them getting to go to heaven seems unfair or impossible?


Imagine someone murdering people you love with anger and malice in their hearts. Imagine dealing with the person who rained terror, anger, and grief into your life. How would you react if God told you, "Go to them? Share my story. "Could you do that with a joyful heart? Jonah was being asked to do that when God sent him to Nineveh.


The Ninevites were vicious people who tortured, rapped, and killed their enemies. The Ninevites had attacked Israel several times. Even if Jonah did not lose a family member, I am sure that he felt the pain of his friends and family at the hands of the Ninevites. How hard it must have been to be asked to go into enemy territory and preach the word of God. Would you run in the opposite direction like Jonah? Would you go and be thankful that God showed mercy and grace to your enemy?


After the people of Nineveh repented, Jonah's anger boiled, and in Jonah 4:2, he shared his grief and pain with God. He is not happy that God has forgiven those who hurt him, and human nature wants things to be fair and for those who hurt us to be punished. He knew that God would forgive and show mercy to Nineveh because it is God's nature to forgive those who seek and ask for it.


Jonah 4:2 NIV

He prayed to the Lord, "Isn't this what I said, Lord when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

Today's culture teaches us to manifest our desires and lay them at the feet of God. The Bible is filled with God sending people where they do not want to go and face things they do not want to do. How often do we run from the easy tasks that God sets out for us? How much harder Jonah's mission must have been than the ones, we face daily.


Jonah was trying to run in the opposite direction that God called him to go. God not only did not fulfill Jonah's wishes or desires, but God also did the exact opposite of what Jonah wanted to happen. Jonah desired the destruction of his enemy and saw them saved. Jonah's heartfelt broken because his nature was to want justice for those who hurt his nation. What he got was an example of God's grace and mercy.


Jonah wanted the people of Nineveh to be punished for their evil ways, and he desired their destruction. God offered grace and forgiveness. Can you, for a moment, think about how that must have felt to Jonah.


I always thought of Jonah as a story about accepting people we didn't like. But as I learned about the history of Nineveh and the torture they inflicted on the neighbors, I began to understand it was so much more. It is a story about God's love, mercy, and forgiveness. It is a story about how God's grace for others can sometimes break our hearts. We often wrestle to understand how people don't always get the punishment we think they deserve. It is a reminder it is not up to us to decide who God shows mercy or love towards. It is a reminder that sometimes God sends us into enemy territory. He calls us to bring the people who hurt us deeply into His loving arms. God shows grace, mercy, and love to our enemies.




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David Henry
David Henry
15 may 2022

Well stated. Against the backdrop of the Ninevite atrocities, Jonah couldn't see his own shortcomings - a powerful lesson indeed.

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Lea Hartline
Lea Hartline
16 may 2022
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Thank you so much.

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Life on Faith and Fumes

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