As an historical person, Jonah receives a clear, definitive call from the Lord to go on a short-term missions trip. God’s message was straightforward: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
There is a world of difference between “preaching to” and “preaching against.” Preaching to implies communication, perhaps discussion, maybe even rational conversation. Preaching against suggests condemnation, judgment, delivering a verdict. The one kind of preaching might produce friends; the other kind certainly suggests opposition.
God is thoroughly aware of man’s wickedness. He pays attention to His creation. He is grieved by man-made-in-His-image violating His standards. To “preach against” Nineveh’s wickedness seems one step shy of full judgment and annihilation. Although Jonah’s message was only a few words, the fact that God is talking to them instead of simply wiping them out suggests the possibility of escape from His holy wrath.
Where might we “preach against” our culture today? How do we become “a friend of sinners” like Jesus was and yet communicate His wrath against man’s wickedness? (to be continued)