Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city – a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh. “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:1-10

Jonah obeyed God, traveled to Nineveh, proclaimed God’s message, and the people believed God. The citizens and king of Nineveh repented, they sat in sackcloth and ashes, they turned away from their evil ways, God had mercy on them and did not destroy their city. God had compassion on the Ninevites, and he offers forgiveness and compassion to us in the modern age as well.

Nicky Cruz was born in Puerto Rico into an abusive, violent, and godless home. By age 15, he was sent to live with a brother in New York City because his witchcraft-worshiping mom considered him the son of Satan. Nicky soon was the leader of the Mau Maus, an extremely violent gang in Brooklyn. His love of violence and hatred for all was well known to the police and authorities. A street preacher, David Wilkerson, sought him out specifically and told him about Jesus’ love for him. After several encounters Nicky repented of his violence, his sin, and became a preacher to street kids and gangs himself. For nearly 60 years he has had a fruitful ministry to thousands of violent, hateful, gang members and criminals because he heard the message that God loves him and believed. If you want to read more, David Wilkerson’s story is in the book, The Cross and the Switchblade, and Nicky Cruz’s story is in Run Baby Run.

Many people who lived in Puerto Rico and in New York City in the 1950’s would have considered Nicky Cruz to be beyond saving, and undeserving of God’s love. “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and in faithfulness”(Ps 86:15). Jonah considered the Ninevites to be undeserving of God’s love. But God loves everyone, “…He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

Spend some time today thinking about God and his incredible compassion, his great mercy, and his incomparable love for everyone. Thank him, praise him, for his forgiveness of your sin, and his offer to forgive anyone who hears his message of love, repents of their evil ways, and believes in God.

By Grace Hunter

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