Tuesday, November 8, 2022
A couple years ago in a class at our youth event FUEL, I was in a class that focused on the idea of forgiveness. In the class we were watching a video by Bob Goff, a Christian author and lawyer, recounting his case against a witch doctor preying on the children of a few tribes in Africa. To make a long story short, Bob was able to assist in getting a witch doctor named Kabi jailed for the mutilation of a child. Unfortunately this crime was nothing new, but this time the child lived! This is definitely a story that is worth looking into after this, but let’s pick it back up in a little bit.
I want to turn to the life of Jonah the prophet. Despite the fun story many of us heard as kids I don’t think Jonah was a good prophet! He disobeyed directly what God had told him to do and expected God to simply vanquish his enemies. When he arrived at Nineveh, Jonah gave a half hearted message “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” And that’s all he said yet, it worked. When the people of Nineveh heard this they repented and mourned and decided to serve God, including their king.
When Kabi was jailed it seemed like a win, but an interesting thing happened. The enemy of this story, Kabi, acted in the same way Nineveh did. Kabi wanted to repent and turn to God!
When God decided not to punish Nineveh, Jonah was angry. He went on a hill and built a lean-to shelter and God grew a plant to shade Jonah. God then sent a worm to kill that plant so that the hot sun and scorching winds would wear Jonah down. Jonah 4:9-11 reads “ ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’ ‘It is,’ he said. ‘And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.’ But the LORD said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?’”
When I was told Kabi was allowed to repent of his sins I was actually furious. I thought the most evil thing imaginable had been done and now this man gets to repent! But let’s look at the parallels. That plant was God’s to give and God’s to take away, just like our own grace given to us by God. The message of Jonah four is to be a reflection on our own lives and ask, “Are you okay with serving a God that loves your enemies?” And if not? He loves them anyway. Considering we’re not always on God’s side doing what he asks of us, it might just be a good thing.
- Are you okay with serving a God that loves your enemies?
- What was God’s desire for Jonah? For Ninevah? What is God’s desire for you? For your enemies?
- How can you grow closer to God’s desire for you?
- How will you show compassion to your enemies?