Pastor Bruce has been preaching a sermon series on Jonah. Throughout the sermons, Bruce has discussed Jonah and his shortcomings, his prayers, his situation, and his praise. One of the questions that get asked is, “Why did Jonah run?” He was not running away from God necessarily, but more running away from the path that God had planned for him. Gods plan for Jonah was to go to Nineveh and call them to repentance. Jonah just did not want to do that. Why? Because he was judgmental. Jonah wanted the city of Nineveh destroyed and the Ninevites punished. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a ruthless and warlike group of people who were the enemies of Israel. Jonah was judgmental because of his own ideas to see justice brought upon his enemies, who he thought deserved it. Jonah wanted them destroyed because they were enemies of Israel also and it would be a victory for God also. Here are a few points for you to consider.
1. Isn’t the story of Jonah representative of people in the church today?
You know the judgmental people in the church. You know when they turn their nose at some of the trash and riff-raff that comes in the doors. You know, sinners. These are modern-day Jonah’s. They know God. They hear God. Yet they fail to obey the will of God. Exactly like Jonah did. Jonah had judged the Ninevites as guilty and unworthy the grace and forgiveness of God. They deserved exactly what God was planning for them, yet God was offering them a chance at redemption. Is this not what God is doing or has done for us? God offers us a chance at redemption, reconciliation, and rejuvenation, through Jesus Christ. Is this not how we should behave as individual Christians and as a Christian Community?
2. God forgave the Ninevites who were enemies of His chosen people, Israel, so shouldn’t we forgive our enemies?
God made a covenant with Abraham, the father of the Nation of Israel. Israel and the Jews are Gods chosen people and his chosen nation. Yet when the Ninevites waged war on Israel, God offered them forgiveness and redemption. Jonah just did not want to extend the proverbial olive branch. He turned his back on the nation of Nineveh and the people of Nineveh. We do that, it is human nature. If someone hurts us, we seek revenge or try to hurt them back. That is not what God is showing here in His actions though. It is certainly not what Jesus said while here on Earth. In Matthew 5:39 Jesus says, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” This is where the phrase “turn the other cheek” comes from. It is our Divine nature that allows us to do that, not our human nature.
3. How great is God that He gives us multiple chances?
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,” Jonah 3:1 Jonah was given a second chance to do what the Lord was calling him to do. This time he did what God wanted him to do. It is wonderful that God will give us so many chances to come inline with His will for our lives. God loves us so much that He is patient with us, forgives us, and gives us numerous opportunities. How great is God?