Ever wonder why Jonah didn't want to go to Ninevah?
Jonah the son of Amittai was a small town boy from an obscure and remote corner of Israel, Gath-hepher of Zebulun. Yet traveling to educated and sophisticated Nineveh, magnificent capital of the Assyrian Empire, should be no challenge to a man who readily set sail on a large cargo ship for distant Tarshish.
The Assyrians surely intimidated neighboring countries with their malicious brutality and horrific expertise at siege warfare, which rivals any in human history. But fear seems to have little place in the heart of a man who dares to first defy God, and then later angrily rebuke Him. One might surmise that Jonah sought to prove himself anything but the "dove" he is named.
In the end, Jonah leaves no question about his motivation for disobedience, which is revealed in the closing words of his book (Jonah 4:2). Not unlike the Pharisees, who had zeal for God without knowing Him, Jonah's problem was that he knew God all too well, but loved Him all too little.
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
~ 1 John 4:20 (NKJV)
The Bible says it took three days to walk through Nineveh, long enough for Jonah to closely observe its people. However intelligent and advanced their culture, their hedonistic lives immersed them in sin's misery and darkness. Their plight evoked only Jonah's contempt.
Jonah not only knew God to be gracious and merciful and compassionate, he had just experienced the depth of it in deliverance from the fish. He readily praised God for the blessings poured out on a repentant heart, but seethed with rage and persisted in hatred when God did the same for someone else.
Such knowledge—such personal experience—is riches greater than all the wealth of the mighty Assyrian Empire, greater than the GNP of mighty United States. We will not be willing to pay the cost (however small or great) of sharing such treasure unless we first love God and love people.
Lord God, knowing You is an inexhaustibly deep well of living waters. Thank You for permitting us to touch such treasure. Please allow us to see others through Your eyes and feel for them what You do, that we might do Your will on the earth as it is done in Heaven.
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Copyright 2012, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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