Manna and Mercy

Video Clip

24. Where is Your Nineveh?

Summary: In a time of narrow nationalism, one response to remind people that God’s mercy is for all was to tell love stories like Ruth and Boaz. Another method was cartooning or satire. Look at the book of Jonah as satire. Jonah (meaning “good and faithful servant”) is told to go to Nineveh which is described as an evil place, barbaric, the capital city of Assyria, the ancient enemy of the Hebrew people. Jonah doesn’t want to be an instrument of God’s mercy to these people so he goes in the opposite direction. Narrow nationalism will take us to the depths of evil, symbolized by the bottom of the ocean. After Jonah finally goes to Nineveh, he preaches the world’s worst sermon, but God uses it anyway not just for individuals but an entire society. We see the satire of the story when even the King and the cattle don sackcloth and ashes as a sign of repentance. Jonah hopes for a Sodom and Gomorrah moment where God will “nuke ‘em”. When we read the story of Jonah literally, we miss the challenge to us that we are to go to our “Nineveh” with mercy. If we want to be good and faithful, we need to share mercy with our enemies. The context of this story is coming out of exile when we need to remember God’s love is so great that it includes our enemies. Where/who is our Nineveh – the person, people we don’t want to extend mercy to, the person/people we’d rejoice if they were no more?

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