Jonah 1:1-3 – “The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” NASB
The story of Jonah is more than a little interesting and informative. The word of the Lord came to Jonah giving him the assignment of going to a major city in Nineveh and decry their wickedness. He was to go pronounce judgment on that wicked city. There are any number of possible reasons that Jonah found this assignment less than desirable and among them could be fear and his desire to not be identified as a naysayer.
Rather than doing what God told him, he booked passage on a ship to Tarshish. During his journey the ship he was on came under siege from the elements and those aboard recognized that this was the hand of God, therefore they sought to determine who was the culprit. In the process, they determined that it was Jonah. Jonah instructed them to throw him overboard and they would be spared.
Had God relented of His call to Jonah that would have been the end of the story, but it was not. The great fish God had prepared swallowed him and for three days and nights, he was in the belly of that beast. Then, after such a time and Jonah realizing he had been spared, repented, and prayed. God then prompted the fish to vomit him onto the shore and at that point, the Spirit of God came to Jonah a second time instructing him to go to Nineveh. This time he obeyed and preached the impending judgment on the city. To Jonah’s chagrin, they repented!
That should have been his hope but after his pathway to obedience, he now considered this a slap in his face, that he had preached judgment and no judgment would come. He got angry with God and complained about the long-suffering nature of God and lamented, “This is what I feared would happen.” What a man of God! Rather than having redemption as his end view, he had the accuracy of his word as the most important element. Preaching hell without a broken heart is a tragedy.
God came to Jonah and used a worm and a plant to communicate His grace and remind him of the value of forgiveness and the power of love. If you have ever experienced the Holy Spirit prompt you to deliver a message that you knew would not be well received, you know a little of Jonah’s plight. If you have watched those you considered wicked receive God’s mercy you have tasted Jonah’s plight. God is not a man, does not operate according to the ideology of man or in the timing of man. God’s ultimate desire is for us to be reconciled to Him and if He sends forth a word of judgment and repentance takes place we should rejoice in His mercy and the restoration.
I have uttered warnings that were heeded, and repentance brought about restoration and I have uttered warnings that were scorned and ignored and watched the impending destruction that ensued. I know what it is to rejoice in restoration and weep in destruction. I know what it is to hear a word from the Spirit of God and find the assignment so troubling I resisted and suffered in my heart, mind, and spirit Until I repented and fulfilled my assignment.
In nearly all those cases my desire was to see the restoration, even when I did not fully trust those appearing to repent. I was simply the messenger not the judge and trusted God enough to respect His assessment of the situation. If you have or are running from your assignment, I call upon you to find a place to pray and repent before God for your rebellion. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you forth into the pace of obedience and rejoice in what God does. You bring needless pain and suffering to yourself and those you were assigned to minister to in your disobedience.
God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!