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God had a divine call for Jonah. He prepared him for the moment of that call when he said, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me”. [Jonah 1:2] Nineveh was a great city that was living in great sin. They were idolatrous, immoral, violent and debauch. They broke families and agreements, and the society was degraded and rotten morally and spiritually. Nineveh also had a curious relationship of hatred with Israel. This was mutual. It was therefore unthinkable for a Jew to be the bearer of good news to the great city of Nineveh.

Jonah himself was alive to these dynamics, and was himself affected by them. He was still in bondage to the hatred the two Nations shared neutrally. He could not bring himself to believe that God could concern himself with the welfare of the Ninevites after all they had done to Israel. He did not believe that Nineveh was redeemable, or that it should be considered for redemption or grace. Worse of all, he could not believe that God had the audacity to pick him for the job. I can imagine Jonah's heart and mind oscillating between anger, frustration, disbelief and betrayal. He could not take it anymore, he had to do something so he devised a plan he would escape.

Hence the story degenerates immediately thereafter; “But Jonah rose to free 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 away from the presence of the Lord” [Jonah 1:3].

There are times that the call of God for us to go to the Nations will terrify us. Other times it will be downright offensive. At other times we will be perplexed and confounded by it. All these reactions produce strange responses from people who are not well anchored in the person and purposed of God.

God was not done with Jonah, he had a response to his revolt, and it was dramatic! But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god” [v 4 – 5]. God's response was to block Jonah's escape route in order to foil his plan. And he would not relent until Jonah offered to be thrown into the sea.

When God wants us to accomplish his purposes to the nations, He will not relent until we yield. Sometimes we will hang out in rebellion until we suffer great loss like the mariners did, but this will not stop God from pursuing us and aligning us to his purposes to go to the Nations. Once God blocked Jonah's way, he did the unthinkable.... he captured him! “So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging..... And the Lord appointed
a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” [v 15 & 17].

What transpired between Jonah and God in the belly of the fish is unknown to us, but is likely to have been deep repentance on the part of Jonah, and restoration and realignment on the part of God. God took Jonah out for three days and nights and broke him, and realigned him to his divine purposes for Nineveh and his heart for the nations!

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Lavington United Church was founded in 1960 through a joint effort of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK) and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) as a community church to minister to the Lavington community. <<Read full History>>

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