November 1 I Monday
“The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.”—Jonah 1:1-3
Have we ever tried running away from what God is calling us to do? God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, and he ran away to Tarshish. In Canada, that is like being called by God to go to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and booking a plane ticket to Victoria, British Columbia. What Jonah did was not casual disobedience, it was outright, overt rebellion. But this begs the questions: Why was Jonah running away from his calling? Was he afraid of what God was asking him to do? Or was he having a rough patch in his walk with God?
To explore those questions, we need to understand Jonah’s background. Jonah lived during the time of kings in the Old Testament. He was a prophet among the northern tribes of Israel. He was also a contemporary of Amos, who was one of the twelve minor prophets in the Bible. Amos prophesied that the northern tribes would be punished for their wickedness and a great and mighty nation would come and take them into exile because of their sin and idolatry. That nation was Assyria, and the capital city of Assyria was Nineveh, which was a large, powerful city in the Gentile world. No wonder why Jonah was running the opposite direction—God was calling His prophet to the very enemies that will eventually slaughter and punish His people for their disobedience.
Jonah had certainly heard of the savagery of the people in Nineveh, and maybe he was worried that when he brought God’s message of judgment that they might get an early start in their punishment of Israel and take his life; or maybe he was concerned about the unrighteousness of Nineveh and did not want to contaminate himself with the unclean. We find the answer to why Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh in Jonah 4:2, where he said, “That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah knew that God is a God of love and mercy who delights in reconciliation and redemption, and he did not want God’s compassion to extend to his enemies. Rather, Jonah wanted God’s justice and judgment.
Scripture calls us to love our enemies, but if we are honest, that is a lot easier said than done. May we take some time to reflect on our own life: is there a person or a group of people that would make us upset if God displayed His love and compassion towards them?
Prayer: Gracious God, I confess that it is difficult to love my enemies. Forgive me for wanting to seek Your justice and judgment when I should be extending Your grace and compassion. Teach me to love my enemies. Thank You, God.