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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jonah-Prophet to Nineveh

Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and preach, but he did not want to go to Nineveh.  He ran from God by taking a ship that was headed to Tarshish, opposite direction from Nineveh.  Nineveh was the capitol of an enemy nation.  He hoped God would destroy them.  Yeah!!!

But he found he could not run from the presence of God.  I've tried that too.  Did it work for you?  It didn't for me.  God is persistent.  In Jonah's case the consequence was dramatic.  Mine is usually just embarrassing.  Sometimes I have missed opportunities that I seriously regretted, and other times I was just sad. 

In the belly of the fish or whale or whatever it was that rescued him from death in the depths of the sea, Jonah became serious and repentant with God.  He knew that Salvation comes from the Lord.  He shouted it for the fish, or whale,  to hear.

After the whale, O K so I called it a whale, vomited him onto dry land, he went into the city of Nineveh.  Nineveh was a huge city with a 120,000 people.  That doesn't sound so big now, but then it was.  They needed all the same facilities we have in cities today-- streets, water, homes, businesses, and food.  And compared to our resources, they were primitive.  

Jonah preached repentance from the great sins present in their culture.  Immediately the people were convicted and began to repent.  The word of Jonah even reached the King and his court.  The King also repented.  What would it take for our leaders and those who are powerful in society to begin to repent?  If our people repented would the leaders follow?  Or are we so blinded by power or prestige or influence that we have lost the ability to choose?

Of course, Jonah was preaching in the grip of a powerful spirit.  He had an experience that spurred him to action.  Our preachers go to meetings and juggle committees and try to please the people.  Jonah had given up pleasing anybody but God by the time he got to Nineveh.  He wanted to preach righteousness and get it over with.  He did!  They repented!  Praise God!

But Jonah had a pity party.  "I knew you were merciful and wouldn't destroy them.  I knew you would be compassionate.  I've gone through all this for nothing.  I thought I was going to die in the ocean, much less what I thought in the belly of that fish.  And it was all for nothing."

It wasn't for nothing though.  Without Jonah, there would have been no repentance or revival.  They would not have been convicted of their sins and the destruction would have come.  Jonah needed to understand that.  He needed to know he was the agent of God's action, and the courier that carried his word.  When have you been important in God's plan?  When did you facilitate God's forgiveness?  What is he calling you to do on his behalf today?

For more information about Jonah click here or read the story in the Bible.