Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jonah and the Whale: Jonah was a Nationalist.

Jonah and the Whale: Jonah was a Nationalist

Jonah Chapter 1:1-3a "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.”

Jonah heard the word of the Lord clearly. "Go to Nineveh and preach." Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have such a clear direction from God? If God would only send us a blueprint for our lives or at least send a post card with written directions. It’s not usually that easy. Even though God used great clarity with Jonah, Jonah chose to be very stubborn. He actually turned about and went in the exact opposite direction from Nineveh!

You might think at this point God would say, "Okay, Jonah. Just be that way. I really don't need you, I'll just get someone else." God loved Jonah and had prepared him and gifted him for this particular mission. It’s reassuring to know that God doesn’t easily give up on us. If Jonah had continued in his disobedience what would have happened to Nineveh? God would have sent someone else? If God determined to bring revival to Nineveh it was going to happen with or without Jonah.

Sometimes God has to teach me reality. When I begin to feel indispensable to the school in which I teach or the church in which I preach I’m reminded that God sometimes chooses us and he finds ways to use us but we must never believe that he needs us! What he chooses to do he will do with or without us

Jonah went down to Joppa, he went down into the hold of the ship and was thrown overboard and then he went down into the black, stormy waters and he was swallowed by a fish and he went down into the belly of that fish. Jonah was spending a lot of time and energy going down. Down is the general direction we all take when we are living in disobedience.

Why didn't Jonah want to go to Nineveh?

Was it because he didn’t care about souls? This can't be true because when he was in the ship and the storm was about to destroy them he sacrificed himself to save others.

Was it because he was afraid and he feared death? Not likely. Jonah seemed to have a death-wish. He requested over and over in the book of Jonah that he die.

My five-year old son, Kameron, asked his mother if he could play Super Mario Brothers on the television the other night and he was told ‘no’. He wasn’t having a good day and so he sort of went off and lost it. He came running to me and said, "Mama told me I can't play. She just ruined my life." He got really hysterical, "I just want to die." I tried to keep from smiling as I told him that by bedtime he’d probably want to live again.

Jonah seems to get a bit hysterical as he repeats over and over in this book, "Why don't you just let me die?" Jonah wanted to die. He told the pagan sailors to toss him overboard.

I believe the real reason for his disobedience was his nationalism. He loved the Jewish people. The Ninevites were Assyrians and they were bitter enemies of the Jews. "If I go to Nineveh God might have mercy on our enemies. He might spare them, he might even save them." Jonah wanted God to drop his hammer on the Assyrians. He wasn’t interested in grace or mercy even though he was about to become a great recipient of both.

It may do us all well to remember that God is not American, Chinese or African. It’s very easy to become blindly loyal to your country or your church denomination. We must remember that he is neither Catholic nor Protestant. He is neither Methodist nor Baptist. God loves us all unconditionally. We must learn to put our loyalties in proper perspective and love others as Christ has loved us.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.


  1. This really makes me question my faith! If God were to ask of me to go somewhere, known for its wickedness, would i say "Here i am Lord, send me!" or would i run as Jonah did? I hope that if God spoke to me as clearly as He did to Jonah, i would go out of love for my Father, instead of staying behind for my own selfish reasons!

  2. I find the spin on the Jonah story sad. OK, you have a message to deliver. I get that. Yet, I find it sad that the message coming from the Nazarenes these days are consistently anti-American (e.g., Jonah was a bad person because he was a Nationalist, a man who happened to love his country.) and consistently socialist. This is just one more example of finding a way to assault the notion of being an American -- namely those who are proud to be an American and dare to support the dream that America once offered.

    I do understand that the gospel is for all nations (that's what the book says anyway). Yet, nothing in that book says that we are to surrender our "nationalistic" view of the world. The book says "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." You would have us insert, before the preaching part, "fully reject your love of country . . . ." Yes, we are to love others; yet love doesn't mean surrendering all that defines you – loving others doesn't mean to just roll over and play dead, while others walk all over us and take what we and our American ancestors worked so hard for. The leadership of the Nazarene church has turned solidly to the left, openly embracing the very things that have failed every civilization in which it has been tried – permissiveness and socialism. No, we don't need to tax the rich man (to give to the poor man); rather, we need to teach the poor man that the Bible says such nasty capitalist stuff, like "he who will not work, let him not eat;" and implore that poor man to get to work. (The Bible has a message for the rich man, too.) Then, we can minister to the poor man’s genuine NEED, rather than support his laziness. I'm only around the Nazarenes in a peripheral manner these days, as I find the leftist message disheartening. I've heard that practicing and unrepentant homosexuals should be accepted as legitimate leaders in the church. I've heard that unrepentant adulterers, such as Amy Grant, should be provided a platform within the church to sing their songs (in other words, the modern-day Nazarene Church is a respecter of persons, even though God isn't, and those with money or fame get a pass). I've been told (Kevin Ulmet, Holiness Today, March/April 2012) that the Bible is only inerrant in matters pertaining specifically and narrowly to salvation, and all else is open to twists and interpretation to suit one's personal political agenda (if you reject the balance of the scripture, then how can you demand that the salvation part is true?). No, it is not just the Nazarenes that are under this assault from within its own walls, it is just that the assault is fresher within the Nazarene organization that it is in, say, the United Methodist "Church."

    The Nazarenes have sold out the Gospel of Jesus Christ for a leftist, post-modern pabulum that is based completely upon socialism and acceptance of all lifestyles (not mere tolerance), make that all lifestyles but those whose lifestyle dare to challenge or otherwise question the perverted gospel of the Nazarene power structure.