“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 Tarshsh. He went down to Joppa where 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 1:1-3]
Jonah is an interesting book of the Bible. It is actually only four chapters long, so I’d encourage you to read it all. There are many highs and lows, and there’s a lot we can discover about God and how He relates to us.
In this book, the Lord appeared to Jonah and told him to go to the city of Nineveh and speak against it. Nineveh had become a city filled with a people who displeased God. They are referred to as a wicked people. However, Jonah was afraid. He decided to run away from this task and got on a ship headed the complete opposite direction. While on the ship, God brought a storm and caused Jonah to end up in the sea where he was swallowed by a huge fish. The fish then miraculously spat Jonah back up on shore. Jonah then realized his mistake and traveled to Nineveh. He warned Nineveh of its sin, and to Jonah’s surprise, the entire city repented. They changed how they were acting and turned to God.
So all in all, the story of Jonah is a pretty wild story. But what can we learn from it? Two main concepts stick out to me. First, God was leading Jonah to do a specific task. Because of his fear, Jonah ran away from what God called him to do. Once Jonah decided to pursue what God had called him to pursue, God went with him. God went with Jonah and equipped him to do all that he was called to do. Similarly, if God has called you to something, He will go with you. Even if it’s scary or seems impossible, God is with you and will fight for you.
Secondly, God’s response to Nineveh blows my mind. The people in this city did evil things, yet as soon as they repented and turned to God, they were forgiven. No one is too far gone from the grace and forgiveness of God. Even the “worst of the worst” can be saved, and what's even better is that God WANTS to forgive them! God wants to know every person on earth. He died for each and every one of us. All we must do is choose to follow Him, and we will find freedom as we develop a relationship with Him.
Has God called you to something that you are afraid of?
Are you running away from any part of your relationship with God?
Who have you given up on, or assumed can’t come to know God?
Do you think you aren't worth God’s forgiveness? Why? What does Jonah have to say about this?
Father, thank You for loving me. Show me how You want to use me, and take away all my fear. Help me to trust You. Thank You for Your forgiveness and thank you for loving those who are hard to love. Help me do the same. Amen.