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Friday, May 8, 2009

See Jonah Run!

Jonah ran! When he received God’s call to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness, he fled to Joppa and boarded a ship destined for Tarshish, which may represent what we know today as Spain. One thing is certain, Jonah, whose name means “dove,” wanted to flee as far from Nineveh as possible. But why did he oppose God’s will so emphatically?

When Jonah prophesied around 800 B.C., Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a nation with a reputation for gross idolatry and extreme cruelty. The Assyrians tortured and/or slaughtered their enemies. They plucked out their captives’ eyes, put hooks in their noses, and dragged them away in chains. Sometimes they stacked the bodies of their conquered foes like cords of wood and set them ablaze. Put yourself in Jonah’s sandals. How would you have responded to the call to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness?

But we can only surmise that Jonah feared what the Ninevites might do to him. His greater fear surfaces in Jonah 4:2. He was afraid the Ninevites would take his message to heart and repent. In turn God would forgive them. He didn’t want them to receive forgiveness. After all, they were Gentiles, and wasn’t divine grace strictly an Israelite commodity?

Racial prejudice is older than an Egyptian mummy and twice as ugly. It certainly doesn’t belong in the hearts of Christians. God, who loved the whole world and demonstrated that love at Calvary (John 3:16; Romans 5:8) has placed His love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Furthermore, He has commissioned us to share the Good News with the whole world, one person at a time, faithfully and without prejudice (Mark 16:15).

Let’s spread God's love and the gospel!

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