Today, I want to look at a snapshot of the life of a prophet of God by the name of Jonah. Jonah was given an assignment by God to go and preach to the people of the sinful city of Nineveh. Nineveh was known for being ruthless, wicked, and for their unfair treatment of God’s people Israel. According to the book of Nahum they were known to participate in such evil practices as idolatry, prostitution, and witchcraft. The Prophet Jonah was much like the rest of Israel, he wanted to see Nineveh punished. Therefore, when God told him to go and preach to them the good news of the gospel, Jonah refused and ran in the opposite direction. Here are three lessons we can glean from the life of Jonah.
First, running from God is never a good idea! Jonah was afraid that preaching the good news of the gospel to Nineveh would result in them repenting and falling under the blessings of the Lord. To prevent this from happening Jonah 1:3 states, “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.” In the same way, like Jonah, what is God speaking to your heart today that you are reluctant to act upon? Are you allowing procrastination, fear, distraction, or even your love of sin prevent you from following God’s instructions? It did not fare well for Jonah, and I dare say it will not fare well for you.
Secondly, disobedience impacts more than just you! Because of Jonah’s disobedience, everyone aboard the ship headed for Tarshish was forced to endure a massive, unnecessary storm. Jonah 1:4 explains it in this manner, “Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arouse that the ship threatened to break up.” We must be so very careful about who we choose to connect with in life. I have found that spending time with people who are in willful rebellion against God can be hazard to your health. It can have devastating consequences for your spirit, body, and soul. Therefore, to prevent becoming collateral damage of someone else’s folly you may want to severe these kinds of toxic relationships immediately.
Thirdly, God does not play favoritism! Despite what many well-meaning Christians may think, God gives even the people you find hard to love the opportunity to repent and walk in His divine favor. Jonah was one of those who had a problem with God forgiving Nineveh for their atrocities. Jonah sentiments are best described in Jonah 3:10 – Jonah 4:1, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.” How quickly we forget God’s grace and mercy toward us. I implore each of you to never be that person who wants God to forgive you and punish everyone else. God does not show favoritism. His love, grace, and mercy are for everyone who chooses to believe the gospel message.
Jonah was much like the rest of Israel, he wanted Nineveh punished for their sinful behavior. However, the life of Jonah teaches us three valuable lessons. First the life of Jonah teaches us that running from God is never a good idea. Secondly, the life of Jonah teaches us disobedience impacts more than just you. Finally, the life of Jonah teaches us God does not play favoritism. I leave you today with this simply thought, “Don’t be like Jonah, obey God the first time!”