Monday, January 23, 2012

Mission Impossible

After the whale vomited Jonah on dry land, God gave him another chance to fulfill his mission.  His challenge was almost like Mission Impossible.  "Your mission, Jonah, should you decide not to accept it, you will be swallowed by a whale that will bring you back to Israel, and we'll keep doing that until you finally do accept your assignment!"

His "impossible" mission was to be the first foreign missionary to an evil, pagan nation. Jonah saddled his donkey and rode 500 miles to preach to the Assyrians. When he arrives in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, he sees temples, shrines, and idols all over the city.  They worshipped the fish god, and when archaeologists excavated Nineveh several decades ago, they found many stone images of a large fish with a man coming out of its mouth. Proof of Jonah, perhaps?

Jonah went up and down the streets of Nineveh preaching a five-word sermon: Forty--Days--More--Nineveh--Destroyed. (Jonah 4:3) He didn't need to learn the entire Assyrian language. He probably just yelled these five words in their language as he walked down the streets.  Amazingly, the Ninevites heard his sermon and repented! The king of Nineveh stepped down from his throne, took off his robe, and put on sackcloth as an act of humility (Jonah 3:6).  Repentance always begins by stepping off the throne and asking God to take that seat.  When God saw that the entire city changed their hearts, He decided to not destroy them.  Jeremiah 18:7-8 says that if a nation will repent, He will stop the judgment from happening. God gave the Ninevites another chance because they changed their ways.

God gave Jonah another chance. He gave the Ninevites another chance. And He will give you another chance too. But first you must repent and submit to God's will, just as Jonah and the Ninevites did.