Jonah 1:1 – 3 “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”
Jonah, Jonah, Jonah. What were you thinking? Did you honestly think you could run from God? Did you really think you could hide?
Though he was disobedient, I actually think poor Jonah gets a bad rap. I mean, sure, he was pretty dumb to run from the Almighty God. But who among us hasn’t done the very same thing, at one time or another?
Sure, he didn’t like the Ninevites, and he didn’t want them to receive God’s mercy. But whether we admit it or not, every last one of us has shown prejudice at one time or another. Either we don’t like a certain race of people, or a certain nationality. Maybe we don’t like people with a certain profession. Maybe we can’t stand homosexuals, or people with tattoos, or people with multiple body piercings. Maybe we can’t stand liberals. Or maybe conservatives just make our skin crawl.
And truth be told, we don’t want good things to happen to people we don’t like. Oh, we may not admit it. We may even be ashamed of our attitudes. But the feelings are there, nonetheless.
Well, in my humble opinion, Jonah was a great man. You see, he was the author of this book. Now, if I were telling my life story, I’d only tell the good stuff. I’d only tell the stuff that would make you like me. But at the time Jonah wrote this book, he wasn’t concerned about us liking him. Nope. Not one bit.
He wanted us to like his God. He wanted us to love his God. He wanted us to know how great and merciful his God is. And so he wrote this little story and laid bare his faults, so we could know God as He is. Loving. Kind. Merciful.
Our God is a God of second and third and thirtieth chances. He loves us, and He will move heaven and earth to get our attention, so that we can know that love. Or, as in Jonah’s case, He will move giant sea creatures to swallow disobedient prophets, and then spit them out, so we can know Him.
God loved the Ninevites, who were some of the wickedest people this world has ever known. Though Jonah doesn’t go into detail about their wickedness, Nahum tells us that Ninevah was guilty of evil plots against God, cruelty in war, exploitation of helpless people, prostitution, idolatry, witchcraft, and more.
Man! No wonder Jonah didn’t like them.
But God loved them. And He loves you and me.
And that, my friends, is the point of Jonah’s story.
Dear Father, Thank you for loving me in spite of my wickedness, in spite of my disobedience. Help me to obey You, and to share Your love with all people.