Read: Jonah 3:1-5; 4:1-11
That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish. (4:2)
In 2002, my husband and I took our godson to see the VeggieTales children’s movie Jonah. Based on the title character’s story in the Old Testament, Jonah is depicted as not wanting to share God’s warning message with the people of Nineveh because they lied, stole, and worst of all, they “slapped people with fishes!” In reality, the people of Nineveh were far worse. Biblical and historical scholarship depicts Nineveh as a “city of bloodshed” (Nahum 3:1 NRSV) that was exceedingly violent and cruel to Israel.
It’s no wonder then that Jonah resented being asked to preach in Nineveh, to the point of booking a one-way ticket in the opposite direction. Why, Jonah wondered, would God want to save them? After an encounter with a large fish, Jonah reluctantly went to Nineveh, preached a message of impending destruction, and the entire city was saved. And Jonah was mad! This was exactly what he did not want to happen.
Jonah’s faith needed some work. Although he understood God’s character and warning message, he lacked a deeper understanding of God’s heart. God is love. He demonstrated the highest act of love by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:7-9). His love offers forgiveness freely to all who accept it. As Christians, we should imitate God’s character as his messengers. If we claim to have faith, but we don’t show love, our faith is ineffective (1 Cor. 13:1-3). —Ericka Loynes
As you pray, invite God to reveal his heart to you.