For the first time, I think I finally understand the lesson the Lord was trying to teach Jonah, and me, through the vine.
Jonah found a place to stake out the city of Ninevah. He wanted to see what God would do to the place. It was hot, and God sent a vine to grow beside Jonah’s spot to provide him with shade. Jonah was happy about that vine.
The next day, God sent a worm to eat the vine. Jonah no longer had its sheltering shade. He missed it!
Then God told him that just as he, Jonah, was concerned about the vine’s life, He, God, was concerned about the lives of those who live in Ninevah. That’s the whole reason Jonah was sent — in the hopes that the city would repent.
And repent they did! Can you imagine what would happen to our nation if our Christian leaders stood up and said, as the King of Ninevah said:
Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
If everyone in America called urgently on God and repented…just think of the healing! Instead we have an entire generation of people who are not just indifferent to the Lord, but are hostile to any mention of his existence. These are the ones like those in Ninevah, who, as the Lord said,
cannot tell their right hand from their left…”
Those are the ones who need to see us live out our lives as ambassadors for Christ. They will never believe if they do not see evidence…and they can see this evidence when we intentionally put others ahead of ourselves.
The picture of the vine is entwined throughout the Scriptures. Jesus called himself the vine, and he told us that we are the branches. Now it’s time to bear much fruit!