If I were Jonah, I would have run away from God’s call too. But for the opposite reason. I would have fled because the job was so stupendously impossible. Why should mighty Assyria, on top of the world, its ruthless armies trashing all the smaller kingdoms of the Middle East, pay the slightest bit of attention to a foreign prophet telling them that their religious ideas were all wrong?
Jonah fled from God because he was terrified that his mission would be successful. Though he had some terrible weaknesses, Jonah is a hero of mine because he believed so strongly in the power of God’s Word to convert people, even heathen Assyrians. And he was right! Even though his method of gathering hearers and converts seems peculiar to our ears, it had a phenomenal impact on the entire city of Nineveh. People in the city repented of their sins and turned to Israel’s God for mercy. And mercy they received: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened” (Jonah 3:10).
Jonah’s story shows that there are windows of opportunity in the lives of people and even cities when hearts are ready for the truth, for God, for reconciliation, for faith, for their Savior. God’s Word can cut through all excuses, dodges, evasions, idols, and philosophies.
If the gospel could reach Assyrians, perhaps you and I should not give up on the crazy, godless world of today.