Read the entire passage: Jonah 1-4
God gave a command Jonah didn’t want to hear or obey. Jonah knew about Ninevah—specifically it’s “wickedness.” It was the capital of Assyria and one of the cruelest, vilest, most powerful and idolatrous empires in the world. Known for its incredible barbarism in war and its gross idolatry. Jonah describes them as “evil” and characterized by “violence” (Jonah 3.8). Knowing God’s desire to see Ninevah repent, combined with even the smallest chance the Ninevites would do so, was enough for Jonah to want to head as far as he could in the opposite direction. He wanted Ninevah to experience the anger and justice of God!
Jonah’s response can easily be our response when we see a group of people engaged in evil and violent behavior. Explosions at concerts killing children and trucks driven into crowds can lead us to hope that people who commit horrible acts soon experience God’s anger and justice. We’re revolted by what we see. We desire God to step in and do only what he can do.
But as followers of Jesus, we’re called to a radically different way of responding. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5.44) “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12.14). Jesus calls us to respond to wickedness in a way Jonah could not.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
One way to begin moving towards obedience and away from our “Tarshish” is a prayer of repentance. Today, pray a prayer like this, “Father, I need to change my heart. In the midst of this evil and violence, may you help me see everyone as you see them. I also pray for them to repent and turn to you as the true God.”