We have all heard the story of Jonah. He was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell about it. The story is a favorite of children.
God called Jonah to Nineveh, but instead he runs away to Tarshish on the coast of Spain. It is about as far away as most Israelites have ever ventured. So why didn't Jonah go to Ninevah?
Jonah isn’t the only one Jesus has told to get up and go. He has given us a job to do. He says to go everywhere in the world preaching the good news. Where are you going? Are you on the road to Nineveh or on a voyage to Tarshish?
The message of God’s salvation is to be taken to everyone; every nation, every tongue, every Republican and Democrat, every minority and every Muslim, even the extremists who are out to destroy us just like the Assyrians were out to destroy Israel.
We have been given a message to spread around the world, but we have failed. We have passed judgment on many of those around us. We say "they don't deserve the Love of God, they don't deserve my time, because they are no good."
I’m afraid that the reason we don’t want to travel to Nineveh and give the good news is that we are afraid that God might actually save the people we don’t like. That was apparently a factor in Jonah’s decision to take a voyage to Tarshish.
In Jonah 4:2 Jonah shows his true feelings as he talks to God. “When I was still in my own country this is what I said would happen, and that is why I quickly ran away to Tarshish. I knew that you are a God who is kind and shows mercy. You don’t become angry quickly, and you have great love. I knew you would choose not to cause harm”.
He knew that God was soft. He knew that God was a push-over. Do you know that about God? How do you view our heavenly Father? Do you view Him as some harsh dictator, some tyrant up in heaven making it difficult for everybody to be saved? Or do you understand God like Jonah did?
Was Jonah right? Jonah 4:2, “When I was still in my own country this is what I said would happen, and that is why I quickly ran away to Tarshish. I knew that you are a God who is kind and shows mercy. You don’t become angry quickly, and you have great love. I knew you would choose not to cause harm."
Yes, I’m sure that Jonah was right!