Nineveh was always evil and so why did God pay special attention this time to what they were doing? Sometimes I think that I can get away with some things that I do that does not honour God. At some point, like with Nineveh, God takes exception to how I treat His honour and my sin literally ends up in God’s face.
“Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.” – Jonah 1:2 MSG
I only understand this when I apply the Middle East culture of honour and shame. A culture where they try and protect their honour or even try to gain more honour for their family. A culture where I try and not lose honour or to be shamed for that would be a tragedy and I might need to take steps to defend my honour or regain the honour that was lost.
So Nineveh reached a stage in its life where God’s honour was being challenged. At least God was giving them a chance as opposed to Sodom and Gomorrah. Jonah is the prophet called on to tell these people that His honour had been violated and it was Jonah’s job to defend God’s honour.
Then they grilled him: “Confess. Why this disaster? What is your work? Where do you come from? What country? What family?” – Jonah 1:8 MSG
Jonah really messed up because he missed this purpose point of God’s honour needing to be defended. Even the people on the boat knew the storm was all about him. He tried to deny it but in the end he knew he had to confess. I know I have found myself in this very same situation – when will I learn to confess right away so that loved ones are not caught in God trying to get my attention.
I continue to have stories where I am running away from God – I cannot figure out why flight is my first response. Running away is an action that people do not like and it is considered a deviant behaviour in a honour-shame culture.
Father, I am not sure why flight is my first motivation – flight away family members, from church family, from confrontation at work – help me understand that I am called to lead and to lead means I stand. Especially if You have called me to proclaim and defend Your honour. I ask that You empower me with Your Holy Spirit so I know that I do not move forward on my own, but with You.