But the Lord hurled a great wind toward the sea, and there was a violent tempest on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors were afraid, and each man cried out to his god; and to lighten the ship they threw the ship’s cargo into the sea. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship and had lain down and was sound asleep.
We have heard the story of Jonah many times. God asked him to deliver a message to very wicked people in a very wicked city. The message he was to deliver was one of judgment yet promise if those people were to change their wicked ways and turn to God. Jonah’s conflict at this calling was clear. These were not people who loved the Lord, and Jonah did not think that they should be worthy of mercy. What he wanted to do was deliver a message of rebuke and destruction or deliver no message at all. We know from the story that God did not relent, and He made sure that Jonah delivered his message. The result was that many repented and spared that city destruction.
Two things stand out to me in the story of Jonah. First, we have the opposing views of God and his servant. While God thinks that the people of Nineveh are as worthy of mercy as anyone else would be, Jonah thinks that they are beyond that point. He wants them to receive their due, which is the destruction they deserve. However, God wants to glorify himself by showing that even these people can repent and receive his mercy. Second, we have a surprising result. I think it is safe to conclude that Jonah expected no one in Nineveh to heed his warning and change their ways. He saw the city as a lost cause, and he expected no favorable response to his words. What we see, however, is the power of God to move and change even the darkest hearts.
Jonah’s ultimate question was whether the mission to which God called him was worth it. He viewed Nineveh and its inhabitants much differently than God viewed them. Had Jonah possessed the same compassion as the Lord, he might have jumped at the chance to speak this message over that city. He might have looked forward to seeing souls change direction and head toward God. It shows us the importance of being in spiritual alignment with the Lord if we want to walk out his calling. We will approach this work correctly only if we have the heart and mind of God. Father, let us see what You see and how You see it so that we would feel what You feel and desire to accomplish what You desire to accomplish through our calling.