God's promise of Salvation
The book of Jonah is an interesting account because the prophet’s story has a surprising twist. Jonah was sent to deliver God’s message of impending destruction to the people of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital. The Assyrians were polytheistic, known for treating their captives with inhumane cruelty, and were seen as unclean enemies of the Jews. Therefore, why in the world would Jonah want to go to Nineveh? Thus, he decides to flee across the Mediterranean sea and blatantly disregard what God had ordered him to do (Jonah 1:3). As punishment, God had him swallowed by a big fish while he was at sea.[i]
Jonah repents to God and eventually makes it to the Assyrian capital with the aim of completing His task. To Jonah’s surprise, however, the people of Nineveh decided to fast, put on sack cloths, and repent to God as well. God then decided to spare the city from destruction, “but to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.” (Jonah 4:1 NIV) As Jonah waits outside the city to see what becomes of it, the Lord shades him with a plant that dies the next day. The scorching heat beats down on Jonah and he exclaims, “it is better for me to die than to live.” God responds to Jonah by saying, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11) Jonah recognized the importance of a plant, but not the value of 120,000 souls.
Colossians 1:26-28 (ESV) says, “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Jonah saw the Assyrian people as his enemy and at first refused to go to Nineveh. As a child of God, how many people do we turn away from God because we unknowingly, or, knowingly claim them to be our enemies? Acts 2:39 (ESV) says, “ For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” God’s promise of eternal deliverance is for every person because we are all His created children. The true enemy of God is the devil and the truest evil in this world is sin. Every day, we are standing on a precipice of an eternal choice. Will we choose to stay on the solid rock that God is offering and obediently stay on His path to eternal deliverance?
[i] There is debate as to whether it was a fish or a whale. Some Bible versions will say fish and some say whale.
Interesting fact: Many versions of the Bible tend to have 1,100-1,800 pages. According to Google, the promises of God rage from 3,000 to 8,000, depending on the person. Depending on who you ask, God has made between 3,000-8,000 promises to mankind. This means that there is an average of 2-7 promises per page in the Bible, and God has kept every single one.