While studying the life of Jonah in the Bible, I’m really challenged by the way God loved, not only the Israelites, but also the Assyrians who were enemies of God’s people. It’s so easy to love those who are pleasant and kind and do lovely things for us or for others, but when it comes to people who murder others or steal or hate or do terrible atrocities, we can think that God has no love for these individuals.
God hates what we humans do but he loves us, the real individual that we each are. Jonah reacted probably the way that most of us would do in that he didn’t want to preach good news to his enemies and hence went the opposite way to where God wanted him to go.
However, God is bigger than our escape routes! He knew Jonah’s heart and he knew how Jonah really did fear him in a right sense. He even wanted to take a consequence of his wrong actions by dying overboard but God had other ideas.
To think that God instructed a big fish to look after Jonah and give Jonah time to think and pray. How we sometimes have to be put into extreme situations in order to get real with God.
This was not the end, however, for dear Jonah. God was intent on seeing his plans for Jonah and Ninevah (the capital city of Assyria at the time) come to pass even though Jonah still had his sulks and moods when he didn’t get his own way. How we can identify with Jonah.
The fact was that God loved the Assyrians even though they buried people in the walls of Ninevah when they built the city and even though they were very bloodthirsty tyrants. When they repented following the words of Jonah that he proclaimed on the streets of Ninevah, Jonah was the most surprised and angry too as, in his natural state he wanted the Assyrians wiped out completely.
So, today, when we see vile happenings around the world take some time to pray for these people who in the name of their god are doing such atrocities (not forgetting families of the victims of course). God has a good plan for each of them and as they hear about the love of Jesus Christ and turn in repentance to him, then they can have a completely new life to do good with and follow the plans that the true God has for them – plans for good not evil to give a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
For our children, the Lord would say, ‘Don’t fear, God’s in charge!”