Jonah disobeyed God to go to Nineveh when God told him to let the Assyrians know about the judgment because of their sins. Instead of Jonah going to Nineveh, he bought a boat ticket to go in the opposite direction from Nineveh (map). The Assyrians were known for atrocities against other nations, such as Israel. Since Assyrians were one of the early civilizations in Northern Mesopotamia (Modern day Mosul, Iraq), they were a powerful nation. Many nations allied with the Assyrians, but Israel despised them. Several years after Jonah's event, the Assyrians destroyed and conquered the Northern part of Israel and threatened to conquer the Southern part of Israel, but God intervened to save Jerusalem through the prophet Isaiah. So Jonah hated the Assyrians because they treated Israel with contempt; He wanted God to destroy them. However, God had a different plan. God wanted to show His mercy to the Assyrians by letting them know of the judgment unless they would turn away from their sins.
Jonah knew that God was merciful and that if the Assyrians would repent from their sins, God would spare and bless them. Although God called Jonah to be His representative to all people, Jonah's hate and unforgiveness for the Assyrians caused Him to disobey God. Jonah allowed hate and unforgiveness to overcome him even though He knew God. When we allow hate, unforgiveness, and any other sin to take over our hearts, we drift away from God. James 1:20 says, "For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." No matter what others have done to us, God wants to heal our pain, loss, and sorrow and give us the strength to love and forgive. Hate and unforgiveness are like a prison cell, and the only way out is to forgive and love. God wants us to be free and live a new life in Him. God will eventually deal with all offenses. Hebrews 10:30 says, "For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."
Let us not allow hate and unforgiveness to overtake us. God knows the hurts and pain others cause us, and He feels our pain and sorrow. God wants to carry those pain for us and heal us so we can forgive and love those who hurt us. When we let go of the hate and unforgiveness, we will live a new life in Christ. We will experience the freedom that we have in our Lord Jesus.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). Why is it important for me to forgive those who hurt me? Am I willing to forgive and love? What happens when I am not willing to forgive and love?
Write down all the worries you face today and lift them up to God.
Father in Heaven, thank you for forgiving me of my sin. As you forgive my sins, would you give me the strength to forgive those who offended me? Free me from hate and unforgiveness that I may live in your freedom. Help me to surrender everything to you. You are the God of love and forgiveness, and please continue to change my heart and heal my past hurts. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.