One of my favorite things about God’s Word is; that it doesn’t “gloss over” the humanity of His children. Whether they fell or triumphed, He told of it. The Bible is about real people, who really lived. They made mistakes just like I do, and, just like He did with them, God will work with me to make my errors into triumphs, if I LET Him.
When God spoke to Jonah the first time, Jonah ran away from God. History explains why: Nineveh was the capital of the cruel Assyrian Empire from 705 to 612 B.C. The Assyrians actually erected monuments to the horrible tortures performed on their enemies! (Five Great Monarchies by George Rawlinson)
It was the wickedness of Nineveh that cried out to God inciting Him to send Jonah to preach against their sin. (Jonah 1:1-2) Most likely, it was the knowledge that he would be tortured for telling them they were doing wrong, that caused Jonah to run instead of “go.” Sometimes, I have a difficult time ‘going’ to people I know, and the worst that could happen to me is rejection. Jonah ran because he was afraid he’d be skinned alive.
Never the less; God did not change His mind about Jonah being the witness to Nineveh. No matter where Jonah ran, he could not escape God’s call. (Jonah 1:3-4) God’s call to ministry is never canceled.
Finally, in the slimy smelly belly of a fish, Jonah was ready to listen. (Jonah 3:1-3) Notice that once Jonah did as he was told; the entire wicked city of Nineveh repented and served God! (Jonah 3:6-10)
God has a plan for every one of us. He reveals His plan for our lives as we seek Him. Perhaps His plan is that you serve Him with all of your heart, right where you are. Or, maybe He has plans for you in professional ministry or on the mission field. He leads by His Spirit and as we seek Him, doors are opened, paths are made straight and direction is revealed.
Today, it isn’t fear of torture that makes us “run.” It’s simply busyness and inconvenience. Can you imagine standing before God with people like Jonah? “Sorry, God, I was just so busy with stuff—“
No matter how busy you are or where you go to hide, God’s plan for your life remains. Sometimes, God will even send problems and special circumstances to bring us to a place where we MUST be still and listen. (Jonah 1:17)
What is God calling you to do? Stop running and pretending like you don’t hear Him. When it comes to God’s plan for your life, the only question is; how long will your Lord and the people in “your own Nineveh” have to wait?
Jonah 3:3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.
Prayer: Father, help me to trust your will for my life. Open my eyes to see that you want to use me to reach those around me; “my Nineveh”. Help me to always be sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit and responsive to His voice. Amen.
Jonah 1:1-2 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Jonah 1:3-4 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
Jonah 3:6-10 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
Jonah 1:17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.