There are many memorable stories in the Bible about people, their attitudes and their actions. These are written for our benefit so that we can learn from them. Arguably one of the most memorable accounts is of Jonah, an Old Testament prophet. When we hear Jonah’s name mentioned, most of us immediately think of the time he spent in the belly of the fish or some of us may fondly remember the Veggie Tales movie by the same name. Regardless, there are many lessons that can be learned from this account of Jonah.
Like many of us, Jonah was a man with loyalties. He was a staunch supporter of his country and its way of life. He cherished his nation’s relationship with God and considered everyone else unworthy heathens. This is especially true as it related to the Assyrian empire, which had a famous city called Nineveh. I imagine that Jonah would have been happy if God destroyed the Assyrian empire and everyone in it. Because of this attitude and God’s method of dealing with his attitude, the story of Jonah is especially relevant to us today.
If you read the book of Jonah, you will see that God has a sense of humor as He deals with Jonah. God, knowing Jonah’s attitude, made him a prophet to the “heathens” that he so despised. God, being ever so gracious, wanted to provide the city of Nineveh an opportunity for repentance. He needed Jonah to proclaim the word of the Lord so that they would repent. Unfortunately, Jonah did everything he could think of doing to prevent God’s mercy from reaching Nineveh. As the book tells us, Jonah finally relented and repented. He preached the word of repentance to Nineveh. The result was magnificent in that the city of 120,000 repented along with its leadership. God’s mercy rather than judgement was extended to that great city.
What we see through Jonah are two important points:
By speaking God-given truth, many can receive the message. Jonah did not come yelling at the people of Nineveh and degrading them based on his emotions. Rather, he proclaimed a message of mercy rather than judgement. His message reaped a harvest of over 120,00 souls.
God sometimes makes us uniquely qualified to speak truth, hope and revelation to people who do not share our beliefs, passions or ideals. In fact, He sometimes sends us to people who do not look, live or act like us.
The points mentioned above are important because we are at a place in our national history where we need to calmly speak with each other more frequently rather than shouting at and insulting one another. Additionally, our conversations need to have God-given truth salted with love. We need to be able to listen and show His grace.
The next time you are confronted with your Nineveh moments, don’t run because God could use you to change the hearts of those who listen to what you say. Additionally, if you let Him, you could also receive a renewal of your own thoughts and behaviors. Just think, if we let God be God in our lives, we would be blessed and our “Nineveh” would experience revival. You might be the catalyst. Will you let Him use you today? Will you let go and let God?