Jonah

The Bible in Art: Jonah     

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Verses for Consideration: Jonah 3:3-10  (The Date is 760 B.C.

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

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How many people don’t know their Savior? It’s a staggering thought. There are billions who have chosen to follow idols and false gods. How many of our relatives are non-Christians? It weighs heavily on our hearts to think about all the people in our families that don’t have the living hope of heaven. What can we do?

When God called Jonah to do something about the people living in Nineveh, Jonah didn’t want to do anything. He tried to run from the Lord’s call. Why did he run? He was afraid. He didn’t want to put himself at risk by going to that godless city and confronting the people about their relationship with God.

He was also bitter. Nineveh was so wicked and posed such a great threat to Israel’s national security, that he didn’t want them to repent. So he ran. But God had other plans for Jonah. Through a miracle, God changed Jonah’s heart. He did answer God’s call to preach, and the people of Nineveh did repent. God’s good purpose was served, and souls were added to his kingdom.

Has the Lord called us to share the message of Jesus with others? Yes, he has. With the call to discipleship comes the call to be a witness for Christ. But sometimes we are afraid and uncomfortable. We might wonder, how will people treat us?

Sometimes we’d like to run from God’s call to witness just as Jonah did. But the Lord in his love sends the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith, give us courage, and guide us as we speak. As we witness for Christ to our immediate families, the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts. Some will come to faith in Jesus; others will resist the Spirit’s work. Whatever the response, we have shared an important message. That’s all the Lord asks of us. He will do the rest.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for sending people into our lives who told us about Jesus. Thank you for Baptism and your Word, which have worked faith in our hearts. Use us also to tell others about Jesus so that we might know your peace. Amen.

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Title:Jonah Leaving the Whale (c. 1600)

Artist: Jan Brueghel the Elder