Friday, April 15, 2016

5 Truths: Pray for Today's Ninevah

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Not easy is it? Some of us have been hurt so deeply that it's hard to imagine ever being able to forgive them, let alone love them. A few of us have lost a loved one who was far from home, fighting an enemy, to protect our country. Pray for them? Seems almost impossible. 

Enter Jonah. God uses the story of this headstrong, opinionated man to reveal His love for the worst of us. 

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away and from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3a

1. God loves our worst enemies! God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and warn them that He was ready to destroy them because of their wickedness. He wanted to give them one last chance to repent. So why did Jonah run away?

The people of Ninevah were cruel and depraved. They were Judah's most hated enemy. Imagine how Jonah felt when the Lord told him to go preach to those horrible people. Jonah would have been much happier to go bomb them!

Perhaps we can understand how he felt. I wonder how many of us prayed for Sadam Hussein to find Christ. I find it very hard to pray for God to use believers to witness to the terrorists in the Middle East. I know God calls to me to pray for my enemies, but when it comes time to write my prayer list, my mind rebels against His command. 

2. God's commands are not suggestions! Jonah ran to a port city and jumped on a ship. Bad idea! God brought a violent storm and Jonah had to admit his disobedience. He encouraged the crew to throw him overboard so they wouldn't all be killed. 

God could have rejected Jonah and called someone else but He saved his life. He could have left Jonah to die in the sea but He chose to send a whale to rescue him. Yep, to rescue him. It sounds kind of unbelievable to me but God loves to use the improbable to do the incredible.

God expects obedience. When God calls, He expects us to act. Just like Jonah, we are human. Many years ago, lies about my family almost destroyed us. As the years went by, God began to guide me to forgiveness for those who had attacked us. I refused, I resisted, I rebelled. Thankfully there weren't any whales in Houston! Months, even years, passed before my heart began to soften a bit. I still struggle with His call to forgiveness but He is lovingly leading me, one step at a time.

3. God is faithful.  From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry." "But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit." “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." Jonah 2:1-2, 6,7

How amazing! Look at those verbs: answered, listened, brought my life up. While still inside the whale, Jonah realized that God had delivered him from certain death. He knew that God saved him even though he had rebelled against His plan.

No matter how rebellious we are, God never turns away. If necessary, He disciplines us to bring us back to Him. Jonah trusted God's faithfulness. He was confident that God listened to him, answered him, and delivered him.

Jonah rebelled and God disciplined him. Just as He did with me, He changed Jonah's heart from rebellion to praise and thanksgiving and He will change ours too.
4. God doesn't change His plans. If you know Jonah's story, you'll remember that the whale vomited Jonah on the shore near Ninevah. Sometimes, when we repent, we want our circumstances to change. It would have been wonderful if God had caused the whale to spit Jonah out near Jerusalem but that isn't what happened. Jonah's assignment remained the same: Go preach judgment on Ninevah. God's word is firm and unchangeable.

In His sovereignty, God knew that the people in Ninevah would fall to their knees and cry out to Him for forgiveness. He also knows the hearts of our enemies and calls them to Himself. Regardless of our feelings,  His command to pray for our enemies remains unchanged. 

As God has softened my heart, I have begun to pray that the evil terrorists in the Middle East will hear the words of the believers they threaten with death and will respond to that powerful testimony. Can God use the death of one of His saints to bring an enemy to faith in Him? A resounding YES!!

5. God's redemption stays the same. Right now, the Middle East is our Ninevah. There are a few committed souls that have gone there as missionaries to bring the truth of Jesus to this hardened land.

The rest of us are called to pray for our enemy's salvation. For them to accept God's mercy and grace.

They are our enemies but, we must remember that we were once enemies too.

Once we were God's enemies. But we have been brought back to him because his Son has died for us. Now that God has brought us back, we are even more secure. We know that we will be saved because Christ lives. Romans 5:10 (NIRV)

Praise God for your salvation and pray for the salvation of others, even your enemies!

Photo credits: 1.  2. via unsplash 3. via pinterest


  1. Oh, Sherry, what convicting words! Well said, and not just you feel the angst in forgiving certain people/acts. Fortunately, as you said, God is faithful and loves us w/an abiding love. Very well said!

  2. God's love is so perfect. It's for every single person. What a gift. What a reason to share His love with others!