By Joe Slater Via Bulletin Gold

Before you criticize Jonah too severely, put yourself in his place.
God commanded him to preach to Nineveh, the capital of the
Assyrian empire. Assyria was a fierce and dreaded enemy of
Israel. I could make you nauseous with details of the Assyrians”
cruelty to their enemies. The worse the pain they could inflict and
the longer they could make it last, the better they liked it. No
doubt Jonah would have been happy for God to wipe them from
the face of the earth. Good riddance!

How would you react if God told you to go preach to
Pyongyang (North Korea, ruled by Kim Jong-un)? Or to Kabul
(Afghanistan, ruled by the Taliban)? Or to ISIS in parts of Syria?

Jonah’s assignment had much in common with those.
Jonah was wrong to disobey God. Let there be no doubt about
that! Jonah’s nationalism kept him from understanding God’s
love for even the worst of sinners. God’s nature doesn’t change.
Today He isn’t willing that any should perish, but that all should
come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9); that was true in Jonah’s day
too. The sheer ignorance of the Assyrians didn’t excuse their
hideous abuses, but it did result in the Lord being longsuffering
with them even as He was with Israel and still is with us.

Can you love people who hate you and would be all too happy
to kill you if they could? Jesus prayed for the very people who
were mocking and murdering Him. A few weeks later His blood
cleansed some of them from their sins!

God loves the good and the evil, the just and the unjust, His
love is perfect (complete, mature, Matthew 5:43-48). It’s nothing
special to love those who love you (v. 46). But loving your
enemies makes you like God.