Jonah's Lesson

You know the story of Jonah, an ambassador for God who was a little beyond reluctant to do as God instructed, and go preach to a city full of people who were enemies of the Jews, as well as people who had turned their backs on God and become a wicked disgrace. Intent upon destroying them, God tells Jonah to go preach to them, in hopes of their listening. Jonah knows God will have mercy on them if they listen. Scripture never uses the exact words, but it seems as though Jonah wanted God to punish them, and didn't want to do anything to stop it, so he ran the other direction.

At one point, he is on a boat, trying to get far far away, and God sends him a storm in his life (literally). Jonah knows the storm is because of him, and the boat is at risk of sinking, so he tells the others to throw him overboard, and God will spare the rest.

God provides a big fish that swallows Jonah, and gave him some time to think and talk to God. He is released after three days. God tells him again to go preach in Nineveh, a city of about 120,000. This time, Jonah preaches as God directed him, and something spectacular happens!

Soft hearts heard his preaching, all the way from the King, down to the lowest of citizens. The entire city not only is saddened, but repents, in a big way, with fasting, and by wearing sackcloth. This was a decree by the King, but no one in the story refused. Not even their animals were allowed to eat or drink, this was a serious demonstration to God that they were serious about their repentance.

But it made Jonah angry, so much so that he asks God to take his life. God still has to explain it all to Jonah, a second time, and does so with a plant that withers and dies. Jonah finally understands that God was saving some of His creation, the city of Nineveh, from withering and dying. He tells Jonah that his intervention was necessary, because the people were totally confused about life and straying from God, and He was intervening to give them true life once again.

God changed His mind about letting this city be overthrown and destroyed, which was about to be their fate, because the people changed their mind about serving God. What a powerful lesson that our nation needs today, as many of our citizens fly their immoral lives in the face of God. This same God begs repentance today, to rescue the perishing, who in most cases, don't even know they are in danger. Are we preaching to them?