WHAT’S YOUR NINEVAH
Last week at BNC, we started a new weekly Bible study, this time on the book of Jonah.
We are looking forward to delving into this short book—only 4 chapters—learning not only about Jonah himself, but the spiritual lessons of God’s relationship with man.
Long story short: God gives Jonah a directive: preach repentance to the city of Ninevah. Jonah decides to go the absolute opposite way. God allows Jonah some time to think while enjoying a ocean voyage in the belly of a “great fish”. Jonah decides to listen to God after all.
God interrupted Jonah’s life. His “Ninevah” was the city of Ninevah itself. Ninevah was a wicked city and it was the capital of the Assyrian empire. Assyria was one of Israel’s worst enemies. So it stands to reason that Jonah would not be in any hurry to preach God’s word to them.
Jonah decides that he knows better than God, so much so that he goes to the seaport and books passage on a ship bound for Tarshish, a city in the opposite direction from Ninevah. The ship doesn’t get far when God sends a storm. The ship’s crew comes to the conclusion that Jonah is the cause of the storm, and end up throwing him overboard.
It’s then that God sends Jonah on a “three hour tour”….okay, more like a three day tour…of the inside of a fish. It’s during this time that Jonah decides that God’s idea is a good idea, and he goes to the city of Ninevah, preaches repentance, and the city is saved.
It’s then that Jonah again questions what God did in saving an enemy of Israel, again thinking that he (Jonah) knows better than God. But, in the end, Jonah saw that everything he went through was for God to show His mercy and forgiveness.
So, what is your “Ninevah”? What in your life are you moving in the opposite direction from that God wants you to go?
It’s become evident to me that I am certainly struggling in an area of forgiveness. I thought I had that area under control, and was pretty much rationalizing the way I felt. But for some time now, and especially lately, I’ve felt the checking of the Holy Spirit that I need to search my heart and clear things out of there that are hindering my walk and, ultimately, my future. As Christians, we must be able to forgive others like God forgives us. That means harboring no ill feelings toward those who have wronged us….to show and walk in unconditional love to people even when they don’t deserve it.
There’s a song we sing that is taken from Psalm 139: 23-24 that is my heart’s cry now:
Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.
Disobedience is a sin, pure and simple. So is unforgiveness. Jonah suffered the consequences of both of these He was unforgiving against the people of Ninevah until God and chose to disobey Him until He took drastic measures to change his mind.
I, for one, don’t want either of these to become a hindrance in my life.
(Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer is the newest weekly Bible study at BNC. Studies are held three times a week: Wednesday morning, Wednesday evening, and Thursday evening…come join us!)