…Salvation is of the Lord- Jonah 2:9b
Many at times we as believers find ourselves in a position of discomfort when faced with the challenge of taking the gospel to the people we consider our “enemies”. When someone constantly mocks our faith or openly declares that it shall not be well with us, or hurts and prosecute us in one way or the other, we automatically roll them out of our list of evangelism. They become an unlikely target for our preaching.
In simple terms, we are saying let them go to hell because according to us they deserve it. Well I’ve got news for us, as long as we are children of God, we are bound to obey the great commission of Mark 16:15 which adjoins us to go into the world and preach the good news to every creature ( whether they are our friends or enemies; and should we make enemies with men? Is Satan, not the real enemy here?). Only God decides who is deserving or undeserving of his salvation.
Our job- Preach! Let us consider the story of Jonah the prophet of God. I know it seems like a familiar story but we will dissect and go deeper. To get a better understanding you may want to read the entire book of Jonah. It’s just 4 short chapters. Now Jonah lived in an era when the Israelites were only chosen of the Lord. The grace of God had not yet been extended to the gentiles and anybody who didn’t worship Yahweh was an automatic enemy of the Jews. So when God called Jonah and sent him to go to Nineveh and preach, Jonah wasn’t happy. It didn’t make sense to him that God cared about those miserable gentiles. Plus he had already concluded that those people do not love God and may never worship him. So hesitated and later took off. But instead of going to Nineveh he boarded a ship for Tarshish.
Then in the ship, God caused a big storm such that the ship was emptied of all its cargo to no avail. Then after casting lots they realized that Jonah was the problem and once he was thrown into the sea the water stilled.
Child of God every time you walk away from Gods instruction you will cause a lot of pain and loss even material and financial loss to yourself and the people around you. Imagine all the businessmen who boarded that ship too, had to lose all their cargo because of Jonah’s disobedience. Then God prepared a fish that swallowed Jonah, in its stomach, he repented of his stubbornness and so the fish took him to his workstation Nineveh free of charge. No transport fair. VIP ride in the fish belly.
At Nineveh, Jonah warned the people to repent or God will destroy the city in 40days. Their King ordered a national mourning, prayer and fasting and the city repented of their evil and God spared the city. Again Brethren, when God sends you, know that he has gone ahead of you and victory, is sure. But something strange happened. Jonah became very angry. He complained to God saying “Didn’t I say before I left home that you will do this Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish, I knew that you are a compassionate God. Slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now. I will rather be dead than alive if what I predicted (that is the destruction of the city in 40days) will not happen” Jonah 4:2-3.
See Jonah was happy to deliver evil news to his gentile enemies but was scared from the onset that God will show them mercy. Sometimes we feel like asking God not to show mercy on some particular people because they have hurt us, or let us down. Sometimes we just want them dead. We rather not preach to them. But God is telling us today, that salvation is of the Lord. Ours is to preach. So Jonah went to the east side and waited to see what will happen to the city. And the sun was extremely hot so God again made a plant grow over him with very big leaves and it shaded him from the sun.
But the next morning God caused a worm to come and eat up all the plant leaves. And again Jonah became very angry at the worm for destroying the leaves. And God asked him, is it right to be angry at the demise of this leaf? A leaf you didn’t even make? A leaf that sprung forth fast and died fast? So shouldn’t I (God) be merciful on a city of about 120,000 people not counting the animals? My own creature? And God taught him a bitter lesson. It is true that God is merciful but you don’t decide for him. Jonah refused to go to Nineveh saying those are wicked people and its ok if God destroys them. And God can also have mercy on them without him (Jonah) needing to go there. No no no child of God. That bad friend, that wicked boss, that betraying brother.
That cheat of a neighbor, that atheist wanna be who keeps mocking your God may be the person God has chosen to save through you. By the word of your preaching, don’t say No when God sends you, just preach, the conviction is of the spirit. God will do the rest and even if he doesn’t, he remains God. I’m not saying draw closer to them in their ways, I’m saying don’t hate people to the extent you begin to decide who deserve to be saved and who doesn’t. You are not God. As you choose to obey God and spread the gospel indiscriminately, may the blessings of a faithful servant be yours in Jesus name. Nobody whom God uses ever lacks. You shall not lack in Jesus name
Brother Cham Formoukom