July 7 (Daily reading: Jonah, NIV) Jonah’s story is about redemption. It begins with the redemption of Jonah, a Jew who was opposed to God’s work among the Gentiles (non-Jews). He was so adamant in his beliefs that he fled from God’s call to preach to Nineveh, of the Assyrian Empire (in Iraq today). His redemption occurred in the belly of a fish, and his description might be close to our own in an experience where God has saved us by His hand.
“In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me … You, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you … Salvation is from the LORD” (2:2, 6-7, 9).
It is also the story of redemption of a pagan people. When Jonah obeyed and preached to the city of Nineveh, saying that the city would be destroyed in forty days, all the people, including the king, believe his message and repented. Jonah felt like the pagans of Nineveh deserved God’s judgment and not His mercy, so he was not happy at their response to his warning. This story is focal to the truth that God’s salvation was not only for the Hebrew people, but for all the people of the earth. This is the message that we proclaim to all internationals!
Jonah’s redemption was progressive, as in ours. Salvation occurs at a point in time, but it includes a future tense. The longer we follow God, the more we understand His call upon our life to be an agent of redemption. As Jonah was sulking, the final verse of the book gives God’s word to him and to us concerning redemption: “Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…should I not be concerned about that great city?” (4:11). God’s concern for a lost world is also our concern!
– Al Gary
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