Jonah Chapter 3: Reach (Part 2)

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The question we ended with in the last article is one we’ll all ask at some point. How am I supposed to respond to the evil in this world? To answer that question, I think it would do well for us to first look at the reason for evil in our world.

Jonah 3:8 “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.”

Let’s do a quick review about the emphasis on the evil, wickedness, and violence in the city of Nineveh that we find in the book of Jonah. The Bible uses several different ways to describe the situation in Nineveh:

  • Jonah 3:8 they were living in an “evil way”
  • Jonah 3:8 there was much “violence that is in their hand”
  • Jonah 3:10 God wanted them to be “...turned from their evil way…”

Now, while the evilness of this city is obvious, this is also a not so subtle emphasis on the disobedience and rebellious attitude of Jonah. Jonah was unable to properly respond to the evil in the city because he was blinded by the evil in his own life. Somehow we Christians have found it quite easy to look at the evil and sin of others and condemn it while never quite recognizing our own sin and evil.

So before we begin correcting this problem, let me explain to you first where the evil in the world comes from and why it is such a problem in our world.

1st. When God is left out of our choices there will always be evil. This is the rebellion in all of our hearts.

Our natural instinct is to be selfish, therefore any decision made without Jesus is selfish. Do you understand that? When we’re born into this world, we’re born selfish. It’s not natural for anybody to serve God and serve others. It’s only natural to serve ourselves. So to keep God in the choices we make is going to be a conscious effort. Don’t ever think that somebody makes wise, godly decisions because they have that type of personality. Following God’s plan isn’t a matter of personality. It’s a matter of the heart. So seek God’s plan in every choice you make.

2nd. When there is a strict moral code, there will be evil. This is the religion in all of our hearts.

Look at the evil in Jonah’s life. He was angry, intense in his reaction to what God had done, and blatantly argumentative. He actually believed that he knew better than God about what should be done to the ‘heathen’ for what they were doing in their city.

Kim Jong Un is currently the dictating tyrant of North Korea who received a lot of publicity for his recent threats of war. He’s known as a selfish, proud man and he rules his people with no respect or concern for them. And yet they all worship him and go crazy when they see him. It’s actually really bizarre. But here’s the reason why. He has the power to imprison and even kill them. When his father died, many people were imprisoned because they did not cry enough or show enough grief at his funeral. That’s crazy! He even goes by the title “Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army.” Kim Jong Un has set himself in charge and is ruling with an incredibly strict and incredibly wrong moral code. The result is evil, misery, false affection, and forced adoration. There’s nothing healthy, pleasant, or sincere about it.

When we adhere to strict moral codes and set ourselves up as “supreme”, like Kim Jong Un or like Jonah, then we are going to have an inner wickedness about our lives that will cause us to have the same evil that we see in others.

It’s kind of shocking, and a little sad, at how aggressive the Bible is in exposing the rotten attitude in the heart of Jonah. I’m sure if Jonah had written this story he would have been like, “Yeah, let’s skip that part about me running from God. Oh and let’s skip that part about me being racist. Aaaand maybe that part about me pouting because God didn’t kill Nineveh.” But the Bible pulls no punches. God calls Jonah out and calls his judgmental attitude what it is: sin.

So before we start looking at others for their sins, let’s first take a look at our own life. 

If you’ve been reading this and all you can think about is, “Man, I hope so-and-so would read this. He’s so judgmental.” Than you better snap out of it, because that is a statement of a rebellious/religious person. That’s looking at someone else’s sin before your own. Watch out for your own religious or rebellious attitude first because that’s where evil comes from.

James Robinson has been the Youth Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, TX since June 2014. He was drawn to work with students because he believes teenagers are in a highly moldable stage of life where it is absolutely imperative they allow the Gospel to identify who they are. As a Student Pastor, James says he has the inexpressible joy of regularly speaking that life-shaping Gospel into the students' lives.