[Editor's note: Beyond Sunday is a Monday refresher to carry you through the week.]
Focus Verse of the Week
He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." (Jonah 4:2)
As we read these words carefully we realize that the reason why Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh was that those who lived there were the enemies of his people, the Jews, and that he was afraid that if he did go to them with his message of judgment, they would believe it and repent and that God would bless them. And he did not want them blessed! God could bless Israel. But Jonah would be damned (literally) before he would see God's blessing shed upon these enemies. So he fled to Tarshish. We can understand Jonah's motives if we can imagine the word of the Lord coming to a Jew who lived in New York during World War II telling him to go to Berlin to preach to Nazi Germany. Instead of this, he goes to San Francisco and there takes a boat for Hong Kong.
We may laugh at that, of course. But before we laugh too hard we should ask whether or not we are in the spiritual ancestry of Jonah. True, we have never been sent to Nineveh, and we may never have run away to Tarshish. But the commission that has been given to us is no less demanding than Jonah's, if we are Christians, and often our attempts to avoid it are no less determined than his were.
What was Jonah's commission? "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it" (Jonah 1:2 KJV). It consisted of three main words. He was told to "arise." He was told to "go." He was told to "cry." This is precisely what we have been told to do in the Great Commission. We are to arise from wherever we happen to be seated. We are to go into all the world. And we are to cry against the world's wickedness, teaching it all that we have been taught by Jesus. Matthew's form of the Great Commission says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
(Adapted from James Boice's Our Salvation: A Study In Jonah.)
A Thought to Keep
The good news is for everyone - even the people you don't think will respond, even those who mock you, even those who persecute you.