A Godly Look At Racism
Nobody ever reads Jonah chapter 4.
We all know the story of Jonah. Jonah gets called to call Nineveh to repentance; Jonah rebels; God sends a whale to assist Jonah with his cartography skills; Jonah preaches; Nineveh repents; way to go Jonah. That takes us through Chapter 3. We still haven’t read Jonah 4. The revival in Nineveh was only a subplot to the story. The primary plot was God’s dealing with the racism in Jonah’s heart. The revival was simply a subplot that forced Jonah to acknowledge the deep-seated hatred he had for Assyrians – even to the point of refusing to obey a direct command from God. And that – is the core of racism.
There’s plenty of evidence that Jonah otherwise had a healthy walk with God. Jonah’s testimony to the storm-farers was “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) Jonah knew the will of God: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” (Jonah 1:12) Jonah’s prayer was on point: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction and He answered me.” (Jonah 2:1) Jonah’s wisdom was crisp: “Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy.” (Jonah 2:8) Jonah’s preaching bore fruit: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:5)
But Jonah 4:1 – “It displeased Jonah, and he became angry.” Funny: most evangelists are a little happier after they spearhead a successful revival.
Jonah continued: I KNEW what kind of God you really are. I TOLD you when you commissioned me that if I preached to Nineveh, that they would repent. And I KNEW that you would have mercy on those people. God you are slow to anger; God you are world-renowned for your loving-kindness. It’s because of YOU that they repented. They are believers now, and IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! (Your translation might read differently.)
Jonah overlooked one detail. Every soul within Nineveh was a precious creation of God.
God never teaches us to be racists. He teaches us to flee temptations; He teaches us to hate idol worship; He teaches us to shun nations that will cause you to stray from His will. But He never teaches us to hate any race within His creation.
When God made Israel His covenant people, that was not license to look down on the rest of the world. It was empowerment to expand the blessings of God to all the nations of the world. And Israel didn’t understand that all the way to the day they scattered.
God discouraged interFAITH marriages, not interRACIAL marriages. He did not want the natural attraction toward a woman to attract a man’s soul away from his devotion to the Lord. But He was quick to allow a man to attract himself to anyone who worshiped and served the Creator: God had no problem allowing Moses to marry interracially. The Moabitess Ruth, by adopting the God whom Naomi served, found herself in the lineage of Christ.
And Rahab, though called a harlot, found her name among the great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 – all because she displayed her faith in the Lord in Joshua, Chapter 2.
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