Rise Up Like Jonah

Part of my work at Harvest Lane Alliance Church includes designing slides for the sermon series. I bet you can picture exactly what I designed when my pastor told me he would be doing a series on Jonah in the fall of 2020. You got it! I placed a nice big whale on that title slide and never looked back. Jonah’s story holds so much more than a time-out in the stomach of a fish though. His story is about rising up, our new Alliance Women theme, and obeying the call of God so that all people have the chance to know Him.

There’s no question that Jonah was called by God to rise up. God spoke directly to him as we see in Jonah 1:2, which says, “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jon. 1:2, NASB). Jonah eventually obeyed God; however, he chose the hard way, which almost killed him.

Jonah could have immediately obeyed God, gone to Nineveh, prophesied to the Ninevites, and returned home. But we know that’s not how the story goes. Jonah clearly heard God’s command and decided to reject his calling. He experienced consequences for his disobedience and only decided to pursue his calling after God saved his life. God repeated Jonah’s calling to rise up and warn the Ninevites of His judgement. The Ninevites heard God’s warning against their sinful ways, repented, and worshiped Him, but Jonah was angry about the Ninevites’ new relationship with God.

As I was reading through this familiar book of the Bible, I began to wonder why Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Was he scared? Did he get seasick? It turns out Jonah hated the Ninevites because Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Assyria was an enemy of Judah and Israel. I imagine Jonah would have stolen the line from Jim Carey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate. Double hate. Loathe entirely!” had the movie been around during his time. Jonah’s hatred towards the Assyrians became an obstacle for him when God commanded him to rise up.

What’s your obstacle? What do you need to address so that you can pursue God’s calling on your life? Jonah had to humble himself to follow God. Rise up as you face your complicated feelings when God calls you to serve people you don’t want to encounter. Rise up as you choose obedience to God over self-righteousness. Perhaps for you, rising up is an act of humility just like it was for Jonah. May we be quick to obey the call from the God of compassion to rise up for the sake of growing His family.