From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
The Bible says that “whom the Lord loves, He [disciplines]” (Hebrews 12:6). Preachers are not immune to God’s chastening and the story of Jonah is one example of how the Lord deals with those who are truly His servants. Before God could use Jonah, Jonah first had to humble himself and repent. Only then would God use him to preach the Gospel to a pagan culture. Jonah is one who thought he could escape from the Lord—he found out differently.
Jonah was called to preach to rebellious Nineveh (the area today that is known as Mosul, Iraq), but instead he rebelled against God’s call. This epic story proves that God’s eyes are everywhere and that He devises retribution and punishment to bring about eternal blessing in response to repentance.
The Bible tells us that Jonah was called to preach God’s Word, but in a very different way from other prophets who preached to Israel. Jonah resented the fact that God was sending him to the “great city” (Jonah 1:2), the capital of Israel’s pagan neighbor, Assyria. He didn’t believe the people of Nineveh deserved God’s salvation. So he did the very thing he was called to preach against—he disobeyed God and did what was in his heart. God reprimanded Jonah and, in graciousness, expressed His pity and love for those wandering in an evil world drowning in sin. This is yet another demonstration of the long arm of God’s salvation extended to those who turn from rebellion and receive the Lord’s mighty message of forgiveness.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)