Jonah 1 — Jonah Receives his Mission and Flees
Jonah 2 — Jonah is Swallowed by the Great Fish
Jonah 3 — Jonah Goes to Nineveh and the People Repent
Jonah 4 — Jonah’s Anger and the Lord’s Compassion
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One Reply to “May 17 — Jonah”
The story of Jonah and the whale (great fish) is certainly familiar to most who’ve been around church for any length of time. If not, it’s a very short book and an easy read. A few thoughts come to mind when I read through Jonah this morning.
First, I didn’t realize how far Tarshish was from Nineveh. Though there is some speculation as to the exact location, it appears that Tarshish is on the opposite side of the Mediterranean sea, essentially across the world for that day an age. In other words, Jonah “headed for Tarshish” (Jonah 1:3) to go as far as possible away from Nineveh. How many times do I hear God’s voice clearly and yet do my very best to go the opposite direction, far from his calling? As I pray each day to hear God’s voice, I wonder if I really want to hear his direction so clearly that I cannot misunderstand. Would I really do exactly as he desires? Or would I, like Jonah, run as far away as possible?
Second, I’m trying to find an example of contemporary Ninevites, a story from today that might be a modern Nineveh. For example, Boko Haram abducted 223 schoolgirls in Northeasten Nigeria (14 April 2014), and reportedly have killed thousands of people. What if a prophet were call to witness to these people and these evil men proclaimed, “let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (3:8-9). Most would not be satisfied with that outcome, most would want revenge under the guise of justice.
Fortunately for us, God does not impose what we justly deserve. Instead he choose to concern himself with those who are lost. The Lord says, “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh..” (4:11)? Jesus’ command to love our enemy is easily recited, but much more difficult to live out. Lord, please help me to be grateful for your love and mercy, even for those who we find reprehensible. Help us to hear you and obey, even for those who persecute us.