Our Lord did not create a scenario in which Jonah would fail. It always was God’s intention that the people of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, repent of their sins. He knew they were spiritually floundering. Of the many people that lived in Nineveh they were abundantly involved in wickedness. As far as war was concerned, they were noted for their cruelty and violence. Even the archaeological finds of ancient records support this assertion. As we take our third step in our study, we need to ask exactly what God expected of Jonah.
Our first observation is the most obvious. God expected him to be obedient. On whatever terrain we find ourselves serving the Lord, we must be obedient. What he says in the Word of God and whatever the influence is of the Holy Spirit, is our obligation to respond faithfully.
Certainly, God expected Jonah to be concerned about other people, whether Hebrews are not. He threw aside everything that he knew about the Assyrians other than they were monstrous. Because of their monstrosities, it would be reasonable for God to expect Jonah to care about these people in the pits of their spiritual depths.
When God gave his instructions for Jonah to preach in Nineveh, he did expect his prophet to go to whatever lengths necessary to fulfill his mission. Instead, Jonah did the opposite by fleeing from God. When Jesus gave us the great commission to evangelize the world, he never said this would be an easy journey. Today, there are sacrifices that we should anticipate on behalf of the spiritual needs of other people.
Even in Jonah’s disobedience, God expected him to be sensitive to those closest to him on the ship as he was running from God. The mariners found him asleep, not standing guard. We must be careful not to settle into a comfortable lifestyle. It is highly important that we are aware of the needs of those around us.
In the belly of the fish God expected Jonah to come to his senses. In this regard we can appreciate what is said in chapter 2, verse eight. “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” What a word of warning this is to us not to deceive our own selves.
Because of his fleeing from God’s commission, God expected him to make a harsher journey to Nineveh that he would not have needed originally. He reported that it was three days journey to that great sinful city. Then he needed to spend forty days preaching, warning the population of the city. When we are disobedient to God, there are natural consequences even if we ultimately obey him.
After the revival in the city, got expected Jonah to rejoice for the success of his preaching. It appears that he still had little concern for the people, even though his evangelistic efforts accomplished what God intended. As we obey God, we must stay focused on our original efforts the God impressed upon us and not our own thoughts.
At the end of the story, we find Jonah quite selfish. God expected him to understand the reason for his mission. It seems to Jonah never really did embrace any type of spiritual concern for these sinners. Ours is not a onetime mission but be in the place where God can use us another time.