left hand right handYesterday, we looked at the symbolic meanings of the left hand and the right hand in the Bible, and we applied them in the teaching of Christ in Matthew 6. Today, we will reconsider the meaning of Jonah 4:11 in light of what we have learned about the left and the right hand.  Let us first review what God told Jonah:
Jonah 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
First, it is important to note that Nineveh was a city of Gentiles.  This means that they were uncircumcised people who did not know God.  Since they did not know God, they also did not know of his attributes.  Nineveh did not know of God’s judgment, neither did they know of his mercy.  Yet God, in his discourse with Jonah, is revealing his mercy, or lovingkindness toward Nineveh.  He is showing mercy to a people that cannot discern between mercy and judgment.  The irony in this account is that Jonah was angry that God did not exhibit judgment on Nineveh.
Does Nineveh represent us today?  Are we a people that, like Nineveh, are unable to discern between the right hand of mercy and the left hand of judgment?  Consider the woman caught in adultery:
John 8:And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
This woman was not simply accused of adultery; she was caught in the very act.  Caught in the act implies that there were witnesses who saw her.  Indeed, according to judgment, she should have been stoned to death.  Instead, the Lord Jesus shows mercy on her life and spares her.  But is that what we would do today?  If we encountered someone in the act of a transgression, would we show judgment, or mercy?  Do we believe that a person should receive the punishment they deserve, while at the same time boasting that God had mercy on our lives?  If God had mercy on our lives, is it not reasonable to believe that he can have mercy on the lives of others?  When we are on display in the world, are we exhibiting the lovingkindess of God, or are we exhibiting what we believe to be the judgment of God?  Perhaps it is time for us to reexamine our own hearts to consider if we have a hardened heart of judgment, or a fleshy heart of mercy.