Imagine someone was persecuting your country or your family and had done some serious harm to them. Perhaps they had even killed some. We would be extremely angry aside from being sorrowful and in deep mourning. We would likely seek our revenge. That's precisely how human nature typically works.
When there is no justice in the land people sometimes take the law into their own hands. Countries do it all the time. This is why we observe wars throughout the world.
Justice is slow. Justice is corrupt, too. So called third-world countries are at a disadvantage when it comes to justice. Corruption is rampant in these countries. Oftentimes the rich and the powerful buy their way out of trouble while the poor are tossed into prison.
But rest assured that one day the perfect justice will come. All will receive their just due.
The Bible features 16 prophets in the Old Testament, some major and some minor. All are important. By major, we mean the writing is longer, and the minor prophets feature shorter writing.
Major prophets include Isaiah and Jeremiah, just to name a couple, whereas Amos and Jonah and Malachi are a few of the minor prophets.
People wrongly believe they can tie modern events into the prophetical books. No so fast!. The prophets wrote precisely what God told them to write, that is, His exact words. Remember, God is in control all of the time.
Furthermore, the prophets of old (there are no new ones) drew from the Old Testament Pentateuch - the first 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. These books were where God's covenant were established and routinely renewed.
There was a man named Jonah. He was preaching from 760 B.C. onward. His contemporaries were Hosea and Amos.
One wise scholar broke down the book of Jonah into the following: Chapter 1: Sea action; chapter 2: me action; chapter 3: reaction; and chapter 4: knee action.
Israel was being persecuted by its enemies and being killed. Jonah was ticked off and wanted them destroyed.
But God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach because there were things that troubled God, such as wickedness.
Jonah did not want to go. He was reluctant because he hated the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the home of the Assyrians, Israel's enemy. The city is what is today the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Archeologists have identified the city's origins dating back to the 7th millennium B.C.
ISIS, that is, the militant Islamic group finally destroyed all visible remnants of Nineveh a ew years back. Shameful.
Jonah had some wrong theology. Back then, people believed that gods were only local. This means that they only lived where they were fed - where people offered them sacrifices such as humans and animals.
This is why Jonah hopped a boat and attempted to flee from God. But God intervened and sent a storm that threatened the lives of all aboard. Jonah, recognizing he was at fault, begged to be thrown overboard to save the others. At least he had some morals.
The people finally agreed, though reluctantly, and tossed Jonah into the Mediterranean Sea. Oops! Jonah fully expected to drown. But God intervened again!
A great fish (the Bible does not say a whale) swallowed Jonah and he awakened inside its belly and began to pray when he knew he was in fact alive.
Jonah was spit ashore by the great fish and went on to preach in Nineveh. He preached a message of repentance to 120,000 people. If they did not repent, God would destroy everything, people and animals and plant life. Total destruction.
Jonah split and headed for the desert. There is where Jonah had a flashback (chapter 4).
It was brutally hot in the desert and Jonah had no shelter so he prayed. Meanwhile, he built some shelter out of stones. There were no trees or shrubbery. He prayed for relief because he had no roof.
God immediately sprouted a gourd to provide Jonah with some shade. He waited in the distance to see fire and brimstone rain down from heaven, but it didn't happen. The people repented! There is no evidence in the Bible that they converted or believed, however.
Jonah was ticked off. His enemies weren't destroyed. He complained to God. God sent worms to destroy the gourd and Jonah complained some more. Why am I being tortured and the Assyrians are not is basically what Jonah said.
But God replied, you're worried about yourself and I am concerned about people! You see, God places value accordingly: humans, animals and plant life. Jonah was worried about plant life - God about humans and animals.
What are we concerned about besides ourselves?
What can we learn from this story and how might we apply in in our Christian walk? First, we must come to the realization that God is in total control all of the time. Nothing can possibly interrupt His plan for His creation.
Second, we can learn that hating our enemies doesn't work to our advantage. In fact, it only brings harm to ourselves. We are told to love our enemies. Why is that? Because God loves them!
"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:43-45, NIV).
Yes, God will exact His judgment in due time. He will judge all of us. The believers who have followed Jesus and obeyed and who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit will not be judged for their sins, but only for their works, and be rewarded accordingly.
On the other hand, unbelievers will be judged for their unbelief and thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation ).
Where do you stand? Do you still hate your enemies or do you pray for them? Are you like Jonah, rubbing your hands together awaiting their destruction? Or do you love and pray for your enemies as Jesus commanded?