“I Will Not Go To Nineveh”

Posted on: October 8th, 2017

Most readers will recognize the above line as coming from the book of Jonah. When one hears the name Jonah, they think of the sea creature. While the sea creature was part of the story’s narrative, the lessons we can learn are far more important. Why don’t we concentrate on Jonah’s goal of escaping from the presence of the Lord in the first place (Jonah 1:3)?

Was Jonah ignorant of the omnipotence of the Lord? Certainly not. In verse 9 of chapter 1, Jonah tells the mariners that it was God of Heaven who made the sea and the land. Did Jonah really believe he could escape the Lord by running away? Again, no. For 3 verses later in verse 12 he tells the men that it is because of him the storm has come upon them. Even while inside the sea creature Jonah believed the Lord could save him (Chapter 2).

When the Ninevites repented and were saved, Jonah bursts out in anger. In chapter 4 verse 2 and 3, he sounds like the worst sort of spoiled, impudent child. License permitting, in today’s argot it would sound something like this: “See, see! I knew from the start you would let them live because of your loving forgiveness!

And Jonah wasn’t done! In 4:5, he waits to see the city get what it deserves. And when by verse 8 he’s lost his shade and is close to fainting, he foolishly asks the Lord to take his life.

The lesson I would like us to draw from this is to ask ourselves, “How many times today have I told the Lord, ‘I will not go to Nineveh!’ “If you say you never have, think again.

Every time you refuse to follow Christ’s examples and words, that is what you are telling Him! You are making what I sometimes have to tell my grandson Paul, is a bad choice. Choices are, In fact, what you must deal with for the remainder of your life. They count for your soul and the souls of all who count on you to set a good example, to help them, to give them the belief that they, too, can choose God over Satan.

And when you say you won’t go to Nineveh, you say to God: “It’s not what you wish that’s important to me; it’s what I want!” This hard-headed attitude of Jonah’s comes to a head in verse 9 of chapter 4 when God asks him if he (Jonah) was angry about the bush. Jonah replies that not only is he, angry, but “. . .angry enough to die.”

Isn’t it amazing how angry we can get?! We “see red”, “get steamed up”; we strike out at whoever is near. Even our pets, even inanimate object catch a physical reaction to our ire. Yes, Jonah was “bull-headed”. But when we turn down God in favor of our own desires, we are being just as stubborn. It is time to take control of our impulses and do God’s will. You are only one person. That beautiful world out there like Nineveh is full of thousands of people (Jonah 4:11). If nothing else, think of the people immediately around you! Choose to obey the word of God.

Larry Purkey