A little background on Jonah:
Jonah was a good Jewish boy, probably studied Torah and was familiar with the prophets of his time. He was steeped in the knowledge that Israelites/Jews were to be a separate people. Father Abraham was to be the father of the nation chosen by God, set aside by God. When Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan the people were to wipe out others, to maintain the purity of the chosen people.
Ezra was preaching to keep the separateness of the Jews who had returned from exile.
And here was GOD… telling Jonah to go tell the Ninevites to clean up their act. GENTILES, the great unwashed. The nerve of this guy, GOD!
So, what does Jonah do? Following the advice of a yet to be born Horace Greely: “Go west, young man, go west!” To Tarshish, the very end of the earth. As far from Nineveh as possible.
Well, we know God engineered a great turn around.
I think there are a couple of important points here:
First, far too often when God calls us to do something, we “Go west.” Not enough time. I don’t have the skills. I’d be uncomfortable doing that. I don’t think that’s fair.
We want to maintain our lifestyles, we fear or we’re just lazy. “Nope, not now or not interested” comes easily. We’re all familiar with that part of the story of Jonah.
Second we get the impression that being “set apart” means being separated or segregated. “If you don’t do things THIS way you can’t receive God’s blessing.” Denominational disputes, exclusivism and pious arrogance are examples.
This was not God’s purpose for Jonah nor was it Jesus’ when He gave us the Great Commission.
We simply don’t want to recognize this in ourselves… but it is too often there.
Yes, there’s a little bit of Jonah in all of us.
It needs to be tossed overboard, into the depths of the sea.
Alive in The Word