Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jonah 1:1-3

This is the story of Jonah, the prophet of God who reluctantly preached God's message to the city of Nineveh. Let's begin our study of Jonah with an introduction to the book, seeking to discover what God actually called his prophet to do.
God's call to Jonah was not easy. Nineveh was the large capital city of the war-crazed Assyrian Empire. In ancient times, the Assyrians were known for their aggressive, barbaric, cruel, and despicable atrocities. The unfortunate captives of Assyria would be subjected to extreme humiliation, mutilation, and execution. History records they impaled live victims, skinned others alive, and even beheaded thousands, leaving their skulls in a pile at the conquered city's gates.
So God called Jonah to pronounce disaster on them unless they would repent! Jonah would be alone in a city of more than 120,000 people to preach a negative message to those who did not believe in his God. This was a suicide mission. But let's make this personal.
The population of Afghanistan is almost entirely Muslim (99.85%). There is currently limited freedom to practice another religion, but there is no freedom to propagate another faith. In other words, it is against Afghan law to convert from Islam. Anyone suspected of evangelizing Afghan Muslims is harmed, arrested, kidnapped, or killed. It is my understanding that every month, an average of one Christian is arrested or murdered. At the very least, there is a kidnapping, physical assault, or property attack on Christians every week. Militant Afghan Muslims are even protesting Christianity by burning crosses.
Now imagine for a moment God made it abundantly clear to you to go to Kabul, Afghanistan as an American Christian and tell them unless they repent of their sin and unbelief in Jesus, they will be eternally punished in the lake of fire. You are to tell the Afghan people, "You've been lied to your whole life. Following Islam will condemn you to hell. Jesus will deliver you from your sin and reconcile you to the true God." WHAT WOULD BE YOUR REACTION?
Perhaps now you're beginning to catch a glimpse of what God called Jonah to do. He was to preach a message of judgment to the city of Nineveh, located in today's northern Iraq. Here was a Jewish man, drafted by God, to go to Iraq to say, "Unless you believe in my God, he will bring disaster on you for your sins."
You know the story. God's prophet dodged God's draft.
But before we crank on Jonah, let us take a serious look at our own lives. Are we any different from Jonah? Are we not slow to obey our Commander in Chief? Jesus said to his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). The true follower of Jesus says, "I will follow you regardless of what it costs me." If you belong to Jesus, God is drafting you into his service.

Food for thought: God has a call on your life. Write out two things that God has called you to.

-Andy Gleiser