Monday, February 1, 2010
God can use the worst witness in the world to save an entire city!
Last week I read through the book of Jonah. It's such an incredible and fascinating story! I mean, come on, swallowed by a whale? In the whale's belly for 3 days? Yuk. Can you imagine what was going through Jonah's mind? I bet he was on his knees begging for his life! (Even if he could stay on his knees in that slippery, smelly environment) But a couple of things struck me about the story that I never thought about before.
Jonah didn't really know God at all. The reason I say that is that after God told him to go to Ninevah and preach, Jonah got on a ship and went in the opposite direction. Verse 5 in Chapter 1 says that Jonah was sound asleep in the hold of the ship during a violent storm! In other words, he thought he'd gotten away with his disobedience. He actually believed God couldn't find him! Like God is really up there pacing heaven's golden streets saying. "Now, where did that Jonah run off to?" Give me a break.
God used Jonah's disobedience to save the sailors on the ship. I never really noticed this before. There's Jonah watching these sailors desperately tossing everything overboard fearing for their lives, knowing full well it's probably his fault, and he says nothing until they approach him and ask him. Then he tells them to throw him overboard. After they did, the scriptures tell us that "The sailors were awestruck by the Lord's great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him." Amazing. Even in Jonah's disobedience, people got saved.
Despite a hateful and disobedient attitude, God used Jonah to save 120,000 people in the city of Nineveh! This really struck me. Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh. The Bible doesn't tell us why. I've heard that the people of Nineveh were very wicked and tortured people cruely who they disliked. That may have been one of the reasons. Or maybe the people of Nineveh had murdered some of Jonah's family or friends. Whatever the reason, Jonah hated them and didn't want them to repent and be saved. How about you? Is there anyone who has treated you so horribly that you hope they never get saved? Despite that, after God redirected Jonah to Nineveh, Jonah entered the city and preached. I imagine he didn't exactly preach like Billy Graham! I picture him standing on the street corner mumbling what God told him to say. Let's face it, his heart wasn't in it. He didn't want these people to listen to him! Yet, the Bible tells us that the entire city repented of their evil ways and got saved!
God can use anyone, no matter how inept, no matter how sinful, no matter how bad your attitude is, to do GREAT THINGS.
So, the next time you feel like a loser, like you can't accomplish anything for God, like you could never be a good witness, remember Jonah and what God did through him. Your heart doesn't even have to be in the right place. You just have to be obedient and see what God will do!