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Jonah the Reluctant Missionary

J.R. Miller, 1910 —

It was not by any means an easy task that was given to Jonah—his mission to Nineveh. There was no Board of Missions behind him with ample funds. There were no comfortable missionary quarters in Nineveh to receive him. There were no fine railroads to carry him there. The journey was long, the duty was hard and full of danger. It is quite easy to sit in our pleasant rooms and criticize the prophet; but—would YOU have wanted to go, if you had been in his place?

Jonah suddenly conceived a strong desire to go to Tarshish, instead of to Nineveh. Distinctly it is said he did it—to flee from the presence of Jehovah. Perhaps Tarshish needed a preacher too—but that was not where the Lord wanted Jonah to go at that time. It is never a question of where we want or do not want to go—but of where God wants us to go. A reason for Jonah's reluctance comes out later. He didn't believe God would destroy Nineveh; that is, he believed the Ninevites would repent and God would spare them. The fact is, he didn't want these heathen people to be saved! He wanted God to destroy them. He was an Israelite with strong prejudices, and on principle didn't believe in foreign missions. He considered the heathen fit only to be destroyed, certainly not fit to be saved in the same company with him!

We will call this a very unworthy attitude for a prophet to have— and surely it was. But does no good, clean, respectable, well-to-do modern Christian, ever have a like feeling toward wicked, dirty, degraded, good-for-nothing sinners? Just think out the answer, and don't look too far away from home for your facts.

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