Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you."
- Jonah 3:1-2
Jonah was an Israelite who was given a job to do, but he didn't want to do it. He was called to go and preach the gospel in Nineveh, which was one of the most wicked cities on earth. The Ninevites were the enemies of Israel. The prophets had told Israel that one day the Assyrians would overtake them, and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria.
Jonah may have thought, Wait a second! If I go and preach to them, they might repent. And if they repent, then God will spare them, and they will conquer us. But if I don't preach to them, they won't repent, and God will judge them. That will be one less enemy we have to deal with.
So Jonah tried to go in the opposite direction. He paid the fare (it always costs to sin), and he went down to Joppa, away from the presence of the Lord. But any step away from God is always a step down. So God sent a great storm (God always will have the last word).
When Jonah admitted he was the cause of the storm, he was tossed overboard. And you know the rest of the story: "The Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights" (Jonah 1:17). Jonah repented, the whale vomited him up on shore, and Jonah finally was ready to do what God had called him to do.
We have been called to share the gospel, even with people we may not like. Nonbelievers are not the enemy; they have been taken captive by the god of this world to do what he wants them to do (see 2 Timothy 2:26). And until the Lord returns, our job is to reach them.
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