The book of Jonah is often seen as the story of a guy who was swallowed by a whale. But did you know there is a lot more to it? At the beginning of the book we see God telling Jonah to go to Assyria and preach to the city of Nineveh; however, this was not the first time God had ever talked to Jonah. According to 2 Kings 14:25, God had previously given him a prophecy. Jonah faithfully obeyed, prophesied to Israel, and was known a man of God.
Now God spoke to Jonah again and gave him three commands:
- Arise (or “prepare yourself”)
- Go to Nineveh
- And call out (or “preach”) against Nineveh's evil
And what did Jonah say in response? Essentially, “no.” Instead of travelling 550 miles to Nineveh, he went 2500 miles the opposite way.
Why did he do this? Jonah despised the Assyrians, and he didn’t want to save his enemies. He knew God’s goodness and love to those who don’t deserve it, and as the book of Jonah tells us, he would rather commit suicide than follow God’s will.
On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, rabbis stand in the synagogue and read the book of Jonah to the people. At the end of the reading, the people respond, “We are Jonah.” This brings up a convicting application for us.
When we are confronted with a group of people we don’t want to accept, do we experience a twinge of judgment, and dare we say, racism? Do we cringe at the idea of seeing certain people in our church? Refugees? Immigrants? The homeless? The ultra-rich? Even an annoying neighbor or a frustrating boss?
Jesus died for every race, nation, and ethnic group. Be like the hero of Jonah- the One who offers eternal life to the individuals who make you uncomfortable- and proclaim, “Amazing grace who saved a wretch like me!”
God runs after His enemies and those that are hard to accept. Do we? #iamjonah
Don't be like Jonah. Be like the hero of the book- the One who offers eternal life to the individuals who make you uncomfortable. #iamjonah
Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me! #iamjonah