Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:1-4)
Jonah was the prophet who was first swallowed by a great fish before he obeyed God’s command to preach repentance to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Jonah was not always a reluctant spokesman for the Lord. He is apparently the same prophet who predicted the remarkable expansion of Israel’s territory during the reign of Jeroboam II (ruled about 793 B.C. – 753 B.C; Jonah, the son of Amittai, was from Gath Hepher, a town in Zebulun in the northern kingdom of Israel (taken and adapted from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
By divine election Israel was chosen as the people of God and by responsibility, they were called to establish the Lordship of the sovereign God among other nations. Israel for a long period took the advantage of their privilege as people of God and not their responsibility as God’s messenger to other nations. Israel was selfish and would not want other nations to identify with the true God, the God of the Bible. The nations around them were setting up idols as gods and were growing in all sorts of wickedness but Israel did not show any concern. The attitude of Jonah towards God’s call to go and preach righteousness to the people of Nineveh, explains the overall attitude of Israel towards the preaching of righteousness and God’s sovereignty to other nations.
1. THE WICKEDNESS OF THE NATIONS:
The nations and tribes are growing daily in wickedness and in enmity against God like it was with Nineveh in the time of Jonah. Sin and lawlessness are in a high increase in different parts of the world and there are lots of aggressions, hostility, hatred and deprivation against the children of God in this age .Why is the battle against God’s kingdom and righteousness becoming more and more fierce? Many have attributed this to the evil of opposing religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddha etc, but what is happening in this age is beyond religion and also beyond the syndrome of civilisation and modernisation. It can best be described as ‘Satan’s last battle’. Satan knows that his time is short, so he is fighting his last battle, to see that many people on earth follow his deceptive ways and suffer along with him. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1-2). In the face of this, the preaching of the gospel remains the major means to establish God’s righteousness on earth.
2. THE RELUCTANT CHURCH:
The same way Israel was chosen by God, and called to preach righteousness to the wicked nations around them, and to promote the worship of Jehovah, the church has been chosen by grace and has been called with the responsibility of preaching and proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ to every nation on earth. The church is called to take the gospel to where it has not been preached and to people that have not heard it. The church like Israel often celebrates her position and privileges in Christ more than her mandate of preaching the gospel to the unsaved souls and unreached nations.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamp stands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:1,2 and 3). Many local churches are very zealous and are doing fantastic works in many areas today, but their zeal and commitments to preaching the gospel to the lost souls and unreached people have become cold. The church cannot afford to become indifferent to the unsaved souls and unreached people around her and still claim to be a true and a living church of Christ.
3. THE RELUCTANT CHRISTIAN:
Every Chastain has been given a mandate to fulfil concerning the preaching of the gospel to the unsaved souls and unreached nations, but many like Jonah are running away from their mandate. The wickedness of the nations will continue be on the increase and the unreached will remain unreached until every Christian arise to the responsibility of making Christ known every where He is yet to be known. Whenever God gives us a mandate to fulfil, He looks for our willing heart rather than our ability or inability. God deserves our total obedience to whatever area He has called us in the work of advancing His kingdom.
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:” (Galatians 1:15-16)
Please consult www.capromissions.org for a more detailed information on missions