Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jonah (Bible in 90 Days)

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To be perfectly honest, I've never really liked Jonah much, probably because I don’t really understand him. It’s a fun story to tell in Sunday School. I always thought Pinocchio was loosely based on it. However, Jonah never gets it. He spends all this time running from God. Even when he finally follows God’s instructions and goes to Nineveh, Jonah doesn't believe God will save his people.

I see Jonah’s story as the ultimate redemption story. The people of Nineveh were perpetually known as evil, selfish and cruel. They were incredibly powerful and also Israel’s enemy. They were the people you wonder if God could ever truly forgive. They were the worst of the worst, the murders, the terrorists, the dictators and the most corrupt. But when Jonah preached God’s word, they repented and turned from their evil ways and God forgave them.

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“But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?” Jonah 4:11

Jonah held such a hatred for the people of Nineveh that he didn't think God should save them, he wanted them destroyed. Jonah complained to God about his compassion. He was judging and self-centered. God tried to set Jonah straight, but I don’t think he ever truly go it—he could not get past his prejudices to comprehend the expanse of God’s love and devotion to ALL his people.

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The book of Jonah is interesting because all the other prophetic books focus on the prophecies and less on the man himself. However, Jonah’s journey is the focus of the book of Jonah. There is only one verse that summarizes the message Jonah preaches to Nineveh:

“On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Jonah 3:4
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I wonder if studying Jonah is less about what Jonah did right and more about learning from his mistakes. No one is perfect, not even men who actively serve God and preach his messages. It’s an important lesson to remember. God still worked through Jonah and the people of Nineveh were saved from sure destruction. The people God works through are not perfect, but God still accomplishes his goals while showing compassion and love to ALL his people.

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