Jonah 1:1-6, 12, 17(ESV)
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah was a prophet, but one that did not relish the task God called him to do. Jonah believed that the Ninevites would repent when he preached God’s message, and God would be merciful and not destroy them. This irritated Jonah. So he set out to escape his mission. It didn’t work. Eventually, the big fish (whale–if you wish) spewed him up on the shore of Nineveh, and he preached, the people repented, God had mercy, etc.
Jonah was ticked. Eventually God got through to him and he repented of his attitude. But the moral of this story is that if God asks you to do something, you had best do it.
Not all of us are prophets, but God calls us all to love others, and to share the Gospel message. God told the prophet Jeremiah, that if the people sinned, and he did not tell them they were wrong, and they died in their sin, God would hold him responsible. But if he warned them of their sin, then their sin would be on their own heads.
This world in which we live is in trouble. We are not just going to Hell, we are in a hurry to get there. Our job as Christians is to let people know the Good News. We need to pass on the message that Jesus paid for our sin, and if people will just repent, He will forgive them.
Not all of us are evangelists, and will not do well preaching to the masses, but we all know someone who does not know Jesus. We need to do our best to reach out to them with the Gospel, and love them regardless. Pray for them, that God may enlighten their hearts and make them receptive.
Don’t be like Jonah and run from what God calls you to do. Do your best, and let God do the rest.
by Virgil Stripes