To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
Editorial Focusing on the Gourd By David H. Snyder The Biblical account of the prophet Jonah is very familiar to many of us. Recently, I was again reading through the Book of Jonah and God reminded me that much of Jonah's life applies to missions in the twenty-first century. Just as Jonah was com- manded to “Go” to Nineveh and declare God's message (Jonah 1:2), we have been commanded to “Go” into all the world, and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). In response to God's com- mand, many today are David H. Snyder following the example of President/General Director Jonah by running from God's call for their lives. They have settled down into a place where they are comfort- able and have fallen asleep (Jonah 1:3-6). Although Jonah was disobedient, the Lord gave him a second chance. After a life chang- ing experience in the belly of a whale, Jonah was again commanded by God to preach to the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1:17–3:2). As Jonah proclaimed God's Word, the Ninevite people repented and God's wrath was abated. If the story of Jonah concluded with chap- ter three, there would be a “happy ending.” However, the fourth and final chapter of the book records the prophet's negative reaction to God's mercy on the Ninevites. The Bible tells us the salvation of Nineveh displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry (Jonah 4:1). After going out of the city, Jonah became exceeding glad because of a gourd God had prepared to give him for shade from the intense heat 2 BIMI WORLD Number 1, 2013 of the sun (Jonah 4:6). However, God also prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered (Jonah 4:7). As a result, Jonah fainted because of the extreme elements and wished in himself to die (Jonah 4:8). The last three verses of the book of Jonah are revealing and convicting: And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle (Jonah 4:9–11)? Instead of focusing on God, Jonah was focusing on a gourd. To say it another way, Jonah was more concerned about being shaded from heat than he was about the Ninevites being saved from hell. It is sad to think how many Christians today are focusing on a gourd rather than God. Gourds come in all shapes and sizes. Some are in the shape of a house while others have leather interiors and chrome wheels. There are shiny, coin-shaped gourds that are often held onto very tightly. Some gourds cannot be seen with the eye but are feelings and attitudes that are deeply rooted