This fascinating article recently popped up on my news feed detailing the “megacities” of the world. The article, published in 2018, includes an infographic which maps 33 current megacities as well as six others considered “on the way by 2030.” A megacity is defined in the infographic as “an urbanized center, housing ten or more million inhabitants. They are often the primary nodes for investment in a country and feature the most affluent households.”
The article and its infographic got me thinking of the God of a certain son of Amittai.
The Original Son of Amittai
We are all most likely familiar with the story of Jonah, the son of Amittai. The word of the Lord comes unto him and tells him to arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it. Jonah then decides to tuck his tail to flee from the presence of the Lord. He makes it down to Joppa and books a one-way ticket to Tarshish. This is the rough equivalent of a Californian, told of the Lord to go to New York City, booking a one-way ticket for Honolulu — he didn’t exactly go the right direction. In other words, he disobeyed God. Why?
Over the events of chapters one and two, the Lord uses a great wind and eventually a great fish to get Jonah to go to the great city. By the time Jonah shows up and preaches, the people believe God and we find Jonah pouting like a four year old, complaining to the Lord and saying he knew from the start that He would graciously spare the city.
Let that sink in. Jonah complained about God’s grace toward sinners.
Here’s what Jonah says:
“I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”(Jonah 4:2)
Not only does he complain about God’s grace toward sinners, he admits to knowing that God is gracious and merciful before God spoke to him the first time in chapter one. Then he admits that he ran away because of God’s grace.
In other words, Jonah didn’t want to preach in Nineveh because he was afraid God would forgive them. He knew that even though Nineveh was a great city and home to 120,000 sinners, God’s grace was greater and great enough to forgive them all!
There’s the “why”. The reason why Jonah didn’t obey the Lord the first time was because he didn’t want to share the grace of God with others.
After he finishes pouting, Jonah begs the Lord to kill him, storms out of the city, finds a shady spot, gets comfortable, and waits to see if the Lord will change His mind and destroy Nineveh anyway.
Having been gracious towards undeserving Nineveh, the Lord extends that same grace back to the undeserving messenger by causing a gourd to grow up and give him some more shade. There goes God being gracious again! It’s OK this time though because it’s for Jonah.
But when Jonah finds the gourd eaten by God’s prepared worm the next morning, Jonah gets angry all over again.
The Lord then rebukes Jonah for taking more pity on the gourd and his own personal comforts than on a city of 120,000 sinners. The Lord says:
“And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”(Jonah 4:11)
You see, Nineveh was a great city – a great city in need of the greater grace of God. Jonah knew their condition, knew of God’s willingness to forgive them, and chose to run to Tarshish so as to prevent the Lord from sparing them. Jonah was satisfied to lead a comfortable life enjoying the great grace of God while knowing of a great city that needed to hear the word of the Lord but choosing to ignore it.
The son of Amittai would rather hoard all of God’s grace to himself.
Mega Grace for Megacities
Circling our attention back to the fascinating article mentioned above (feel free to click again and check out the infographic), there are some great cities in this world today filled with people who know nothing of the greater grace of God. They know nothing of the grace that is greater than all their sin.
Friend, should not the Lord spare these great cities, wherein are more than thousands upon thousands of persons that cannot discern between light and darkness, right and wrong, righteousness and sin? Should not He spare them of the wrath to come?
He wants to. He desires to, and He delights in bringing His message of salvation through messengers. That’s why He sent Jonah to Nineveh. That’s why He lead Paul and his company to the “chief city” of Philippi. That’s why the Lord sent Phillip to the Ethiopian eunuch. God sends messengers who know of His grace to preach it to those who don’t.
A Plea for “Would Be” Sons of Amittai
Friend, how about you? If you are reading this article it’s probably safe to assume you know a thing or two about God’s grace. Would you surrender your life to go to a “great city”, a “chief city”, a “megacity”, and tell them of the greater grace of God? The Lord would love to use you as His mouthpiece.
Let’s not be “Sons of Amittai” who, like Jonah, are selfish with the grace of God, comfortable where we are, and wanting to keep salvation to ourselves. Let’s instead be Sons of Amittai who willingly and boldly launch out into the world with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
Consider Beijing, China, and Delhi, India.
Consider Jakarta, Indonesia, and Lagos, Nigeria.
Consider Cairo, Egypt, and London, England.
Consider Karachi, Pakistan, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Consider Mexico City, Mexico, and Chicago, United States.
Would you go? Would you preach? Or would you be a Son of Amittai?
The word of the Lord, after all, has come to you as well:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”(Matthew 28:19-20)