by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 3:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you."
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
When the Lord gave Jonah a second chance, He didn't change His mind about the prophet's destination. He didn't lighten the load or change the burden Jonah was destined to carry. There was no negotiation with Jonah where the Lord expressed understanding about his reluctance to go to Nineveh. God didn't concede to send him to Tarshish just because he'd been heading in that direction anyway. Jonah's disobedience and repentance produced a clear and simple result: a second chance to do what he should have done the first time.
But it was not just for Nineveh's sake. God cared for Jonah, just as He cared for Nineveh. If His concern was only about Nineveh, the Lord could have sent someone else for the task. But He definitely wanted Jonah to go, because He wanted to change and to soften the prophet's heart; to make him more like Himself…
Jonah's identity and calling as a prophet by no means meant that God was finished shaping him. You may have a significant calling on your life; a "prophetic" or "pastoral" role, known as a leader, a man or woman of God. You may know His will, and His word. You may even have some level of intimacy with Him….but all this could also be a basis for presumption, self-righteousness, pride, distance from those less holy than you, and maybe even an unsuspected level of disobedience bordering on rebellion. Something profoundly important can be missing from your character…
Jonah's experience is an excellent example of the Lord's desire to transform His faithful saints. The apostle Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 13 of a "more excellent way". The preceding chapter, 1 Corinthians 12, is all about spiritual gifts; and Jonah was certainly gifted as a prophet. But what he lacked was of such great concern to God that He was willing to put Jonah into the most dire circumstances imaginable; because what Jonah lacked was a most essential characteristic of God's nature, the love we call "agape"….. the "love" which God Himself is.