A Heart for the City- Nineveh
I’ve been sitting in the minor prophetic Books and I’m amazed at the emotion and passion of God towards Israel. He unleashes emotional words and punished a people who exhibited stubbornness in not staying faithful to Him. But, He also unleashes punishment on Israel’s enemies.
We all know the story of Jonah, a prophet who God used to warn Nineveh, a great city, to repent and turn from their wicked ways. Jonah initially did the opposite of what God told him to do. He ran from God, got on a boat, and the boat encountered a storm. Jonah was thrown into the sea by the crewmen and for 3 days he was in the belly of a big fish and on the third day the fish spit him out. 3 days you say? Sounds a little like Jesus, ey? Oh yes, Jonah is a prototype of Jesus but that’s for another time!
By chapter 4 of Jonah, after he finally did what God originally told him to do, we see His anger with God. But 2 verses caught my attention in John 4:
THE FIRST (v 2): Jonah said, “You are eager to turn back from destroying people.
THE SECOND (v11): God said, “But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
So, we can deduce a few things: God has a great desire to turn back from destroying people; He wants to unleash His grace and mercy on all; God cares about animals- haha; and God has a heart for people to know Him in cities.
And Jonah got mad at God for all these things. He knew God’s great desire to unleash grace and mercy. Jonah enjoyed these traits of God for himself, but when it came to others, he didn’t care to see a city experience these traits too.
Jonathan Swift, an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric from the 17th century characterizes Jonah’s mindset in a satire:
“We are God’s chosen few, all others will be damned.
There is no place in heaven for you, we can’t have heaven crammed.”
How many times have you, like Jonah, felt selfishness towards a city or person- not wanting them to experience God or His gifts, but, it was ok if you experienced them?
You see, the takeaway is that as followers of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is our duty to follow God and share Him with the world. God wants every nook and cranny of cities penetrated with the Gospel message. And, we are to pray and hope God’s mercy will fall on those who don’t follow Him. To act the way Jonah did initially is unChristlike. Another takeaway is to make a difference in your city. Cities are where governments and commerce thrive. God has a heart and plan for cities and we are his instruments to introduce Him to our cities.