God tells Jonah to catch a boat and head out to Ninevah. Jonah’s like whoa, wait a minute. Those are primitive, cruel people over there, God. You want me to go to Ninevah, and tell the people that skin people alive, cut off body parts and hang them around the town as trophies that if they don’t repent that you are going to destroy all of them.
God, are you sure?
Like most of us, Jonah must have hated those barbarians. He must have heard the stories of the evil found in the people of Ninevah. The Ninevites were ISIS all jacked up. They were desperately wicked people. But the real crime was found in their leaders. Think of any corrupt activity that occurs today and the people of Ninevah experienced similar atrocities every single day.
Jonah thinks better of being skinned alive and heads the opposite way on the boat. He is heading some 2,200 miles away from the city of Ninevah. Why? Well, he probably hates those Ninevites and is thinking, great plan, God. Go ahead and wipe them off the face of the earth! Way to go, God!
You know what happens, God sends a storm, and it’s a category five hurricane kind of storm. Jonah confesses that the storm is there because of his disobedience, jumps overboard and the giant fish swallows him. The hate must be boiling at this point. Those stupid, sorry, wicked, terrible people should be wiped out, but no! God wants me to risk my life for them, and now I’m in the smelly belly of a giant fish. God, this is so totally uncool! God gives the giant fish a tummy ache and projectile vomiting bursts on the scene as Johah is tossed from the belly of the fish to the beach.
Knowing God will keep hunting him down, Jonah surrenders and goes to Ninevah. He preaches repentance and the Scriptures say that every single man, woman, and child turns their hearts and lives to God. Jonah must have been thinking when he arrived in Ninevah that this was his Alamo. This is it, all for these stupid, wicked people. And then he saw that children were playing in the street. That a wedding was taking place. That a woman was weeping over the death of her only son. When he was hundreds of miles away, it was so easy to hate these people. But up close, his heart must have been softened.
Many of us have hearts filled with hate. We hate that person that lied to us. We hate Muslims, or Jews, or Gay people, or some other people group. Maybe we hate the church, or we hate the opposing candidate. Hate is a catastrophic ailment of the soul, and it will lead to death, sorrow and agony. Stop filling your heart mind and soul with hate. Stop hanging around people filled with hate. Stop watching the donkeys or the elephants spout their version of hate.
Can you imagine what our community might look like if our schools, businesses, municipalities, churches, and families put an end to hate?
This world will draw you into her false belief that we must have something to hate. Don’t surrender! Stop allowing the hate mongers to direct your heart toward evil. Choose friends, books, movies and music that will encourage you, and don’t destroy with hate.
Jonah might have missed the boat (pun perfectly intended) if he allowed hatred to rule his hardened heart. And you might, as well. This world has plenty of evil. Adding hate will only fuel it. Dr. Henry Cloud was right when he said, “The opposite of “bad” is not “good.” The opposite of bad is “love.”
“And the greatest of these is love.” –God