Article by Pastor Lynda Mazzella
If we take a really good look at the story of Jonah we might be shocked to see ourselves in Jonah's sandals. We don't know much about him prior to "The Nineveh Experience", but there's no doubt, he, like we, love God and want to serve Him. He heard God's voice... God speaks to usthrough His Word. But Jonah didn't like what God asked him to do. Do we? He didn't want to "love his enemies" nor "pray for those who persecuted him" (Matthew 5:44) ...nor "return good for evil"....(Luke 6:27)
Jonah was told to warn a grievous enemy that though they certainly deserved judgment, God loved them and was willing to forgive them...if they would turn to Him. Jonah's (dare we say, justifiable) hatred and prejudice were so intense that he not only ignored God's directive, but ran from it...and attempted to hide from God.
Are we anything like Jonah? Is there any one person, or race or nation we feel deserves judgment? Would it anger us to see them spared the consequences of their evil actions? Would we withhold the Truth that Jesus died for them so they could be forgiven? Would we neglect to pray for their salvation?
Unbeknown to Jonah, God was already at work behind the scenes through various circumstances, preparing the heart of the king to hear and receive Jonah's message. As goes the king, so goes the nation. This story clearly teaches the far reaching inclusive loveof God. "He is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance. "2 Peter 3:9.
We cannot write off anyone as "hopeless." God is always at work...in ways we cannot see or imagine. God's Word says to us..." I urge you to pray for ALL people. Ask God to help them. Intercede for them and give thanks for them. " (2 Timothy 2:1)
Even for my enemies? Feeling a bit like Jonah?
One of the most amazing aspects of this story is how God never gave up on Jonah. Surely there was someone else He could have entrusted with this assignment. He could have disqualified Jonah for his defiance and let him wallow in his own self pity. But God's pursuit of Jonah (the storm at sea), His protection (the living submarine), His power (a repentant nation)...His patience (persuasive object lessons from the vine, the worm and the east wind)...are characteristic of our loving, Heavenly Father. God knew "the rest of the story." Ultimately this would be Jonah's greatest achievement! As a result of his warning, an entire evil nation repented and turned to The Living God! No more fear from that quarter. Peace for Israel on Jonah's watch.