Surely almost everyone in America and probably much of the world has heard of Jonah. They may know the story surrounding the name, but they know the name. As a background; Jonah was a regular guy living in Israel during the Old Testament days. God came to him one day and said, (basically): “Jonah, I want you to go the city of Nineveh and tell them they have to repent of their evil ways and follow me or I will destroy them”. Jonah responded, “No way, that isn’t happening… go ahead and destroy them.”
Would you talk back to God?
That’s kind of a funny way to talk to God isn’t it? I mean, first of all he is God and second of all, He’s there talking with you face to face! I can’t imagine many of us reacting that way, can you? But here is the thing; the folks from Nineveh were bad people. Not just bad, they were evil through and through. They were a warrior people who made the folks we see in the movies look nice. They cut the unborn babies out of the wombs of the mothers and smashed their heads on rocks. They covered people with oil and lit them on fire, they cut open peoples stomachs and pulled out their intestines and laughed as they would bleed to death and even worse things. And the worst part of it for Jonah is that they did it to the Israelites, Jonah’s people.
We don’t have to experience it ourselves to act irrationally!
Did it happen to Jonah himself? No, but he knew about it and there was no way he was going to forgive these people, no matter what God said! He had his pride, he had his rights and he had decided he was going to hate them no matter what… well right up until he was swallowed by as whale!
God’s way is the only way!
You see, God doesn’t ever take NO for an answer to something he says to do! Jonah jumped on a sailing ship to run as far away from Nineveh as he could and he thought from God too. But, God had other plans. God caused a “Storm of the century” to come up and Jonah ended up swimming for his life in the water of the Mediterranean Sea. No, he didn’t die… God sent a whale to swallow Jonah and while in the belly of the whale you might say, “Jonah got religion”. He began to pray like he had never prayed before and promise God if he ever got out of there he would be a changed man.
The rest of the story!
Well, God caused the whale to vomit up Jonah on the shore not far from Nineveh and Jonah walked to the city and began preaching God’s message of forgiveness to these enemies he hated and you know what, they began to repent, from the king down the beggars they repented and promised to change their lives and God forgave them. You know the worse part of the whole story? Jonah didn’t like what God did, because he didn’t think it was justice being served. He forgot he wasn’t God and that God can forgive or he can give justice at the final judgment. (You should read the book of Jonah, it’s not that long and truly interesting).
God views justice differently
Could it be that you are like Jonah? There are folks you need to forgive, or allow God to forgive. Someone once said: “Forgiveness doesn’t make them right, it makes you right!” Jesus had this to say about it in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.” He also said in Matthew 6:12: “Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us”. Will God have to bring a storm into your life or put you in some dark place to get you to understand this message? you see, God’s justice may be different from our justice.