“So he prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.’”
One who relents from doing harm
God repents of harming those who repent. Jonah may have said, “Now you are going to make a liar out of me. You said that you would judge the Ninevites and now you are going to forgive them. I said that you would destroy this city in forty days.” Jonah had a reputation to maintain. He did not want to be branded as a liar.
God taps His foot, waiting to exercise His grace and mercy toward us.
God is willing to acknowledge that people change. He is ready to begin again with them. Many have a picture of God that does not represent who He truly is. They view Him as an angry Judge who is ready to execute justice without mercy or longsuffering. The biblical picture is just the opposite. God is full of grace and mercy. He is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness. This is why God is willing to “relent” or “repent” from exercising judgment on us.
Jonah’s problem, and our problem, is that we want to put God in a box. We want Him to fit into our bias. This delimits the God of the Bible.