Jonah, Violence in the Middle East, and Loving Your Enemies. {With a little help from my pops, Dr. John C. Jenkins}

So long as they fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people - greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are. 
~ T.E. Lawrence

Everyday we are inundated with news of acts of terrorism. We feel hatred towards those who spread fear and pain throughout our world and yet at the same time within our own borders there is devastating violence. This is my father's message concerning the Biblical story of Jonah and how it relates to what is currently happening throughout the world today. He reminds us of a loving God who tells us first to love our enemies and that maybe change can happen, but only after we admit that we are not much different from the people of Nineveh and it is time for us also to change.

Jonah was a prophet both before and after the events of his book. (2 Kings 14:25)  He was praying, asking God what we all want to know, “What is your will for me today?  I want to be a Godly man and be faithful.”  So, God gave him an assignment: “Go to Nineveh, and preach repentance, yet 40 days.” (Jonah 1:1-2, 3:2)
To be brief, Jonah reveals that he ran away because he didn’t like Ninevites.  He did not want them saved, rescued, redeemed or fixed.  He wanted them dead.  So, he fled.  He ran away – by his own confession. 

Finally, after the session with the whale, he went to Nineveh.  But little did he know (and many times we forget) while God was getting him ready for the Ninevites, God was getting the Ninevites ready for him.  He preached only briefly, but from the top down, beginning with the King of Nineveh, the people repented. (Jonah 3:6)

You have to ask yourself, “Why? Why was it so easy?  Why was their response so immediate?”  Easy answer: They were so unrighteous.  Their unrighteousness was reduced to one sin; violence.  The king said, “Enough is enough.” and as a great leader does, he led his people to a reckoning, “What we are doing, and how we live, and what we have done is not working. We have got to change.  We need God’s help.”  (Jonah 3:8)

A funny reckoning from a pagan king.  But his point is valid and instructive.  We live in a day where we must realize the Ninevites are still around.  Their answer to everything is violence.  But in the end, the reckoning is still the same. It’s not working, everybody suffers, even our own country.  This will be true for ISIS - or the United States.  Sadly, there are almost as many headlines about American violence as there are about violence in the Middle East.  We have become an unrighteous people, and it needs to stop.  So, I must ask myself, “Am I part of the problem? Am I just using ISIS as a kind of scapegoat for my own deficiencies and unrighteousness?  Do I, like Jonah, simply want them dead?  Is my answer to the Muslims – simply to bomb them all away?”

Jonah hated the fact that God loved the Ninevites enough to save them.  (Jonah 4:1-2)  

Truthfully, we all suffer from the same condition of “lostness”.  None of us deserve the love of God, and on top of that, we are commanded to (Luke 6:35-36) “Love your enemies!  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” 

Jonah is a great book because it reveals the human condition.  There is a Ninevite in every one of us.  The solution is the same.  It has not changed.  We needed the King then, and we need Him now.  And so do they.  But what message are we sending them?  Our violence is better than yours?  

And I’m wondering if a whale is waiting for me.


This is a guest post by the one and only Dr. John C. Jenkins.  

What lies within the recesses of your heart?  Ask the Lord to bring the truth to light and wisdom to your eyes and ears.  We serve a great and mighty God and it is difficult to change, but not impossible. 

Today I am thankful.  Like really really thankful.  


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