Israel 2014 IFL 009Tel Aviv is not just a port city for vacationers.  It has all of those amenities without a doubt.  Walk to the beach from your hotel and sunbathers, joggers, fitness fanatics are all over the boardwalk in huge numbers.

The road along the seaside is filled with traffic.  Cars, trucks, buses fill the main traffic lanes.  However, there are plenty of bicyclists, skateboarders, scooters and walkers.  The broad sandy beaches could distract the unknowing eye from the historical significance of this site.

Look south from the shores of the Mediterranean.  Yes, the clean sand and gazebos capture your attention.  A well designed border sets the path off from the beach.  Look further.

Off in the distance there is a hill on the horizon.  A number of structures build out the land mass.  Clearly it is a village of sorts.Israel 2014 IFL 010

A thin tower rises into the sky.  Every time I have been to the Holy Land I return to this same vantage point.  That distant site is the ancient city of Joppa.

Jonah made that location famous.  More accurately, it was made infamous.  This disobedient prophet of God did not like his assignment from above.

God wanted Jonah to preach against Nineveh.  Instead of obeying he tried to run away from the Lord.  Oddly we learned that he hated those people.

He believed that if he preached against it, the people might repent and God would naturally spare them with His grace.  Rather than give them that eternal chance, he ran from God.  That was a choice of poor theology.  God is omniscient and omnipresent.

IMG_3416While sailing to Tarshish, God sent a special giant fish to swallow the wayward prophet. He repented, went to Nineveh and preached against the city.  God’s Word powerfully brought the people to repentance and Jonah pouted.  His fear of God’s mercy on these people whom he hated came true.

God teaches Jonah and all of us that His great mercy for 120,000 lost souls is more important than our selfish biases.  We never know if Jonah “got it” or not. The Scriptures never tell us.

I gaze at the ancient city of Joppa and wonder if I can be more faithful to God’s leading in my life as His servant.  Can I obey Him and overlook the people who I dislike?  Do my selfish merciless feelings circumvent God’s grace that He wants to give to the sinful?

photo credit: brucefong photography and cellphone photography