The Other Left (Jonah 4:11)

I love dancing, watching it and even doing it. However, I am not very coordinated and probably even worse at following directions. These two faults can combine for some serious mishaps when learning a new dance step.

Dance Instructor: “Ok, so move to your left.”
Me: “Like this?”  as I move to the right.
Dance Instructor: “No, I mean the other left!”

Fortunately, I have a forgiving wife who is an excellent dancer and partner. But my lack of direction leads to conflict, not only on the dance floor, but when I am taking directions when I am driving and my wife is navigating.

And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left —and much livestock?”
Jonah 4:11

This last verse in the Book of Jonah records the bleak spiritual desolation of the people of Nineveh. It was a state that was so extreme, they could not discern the difference between their right and left hand. This may have been hyperbole but the notoriety of Nineveh's cruelty and debauchery were well known. Their lack of direction and ignorance of their sins led to God’s wrath and judgment. 

Jonah was sent to preach a message of repentance to the citizens of Nineveh. We all know the story. Jonah disobeyed God and went in the opposite direction. But God had other plans for him and sent a great fish to swallow him. Only after praying and repenting did God spare Jonah and command the fish to vomit him onto the shore. Jonah goes to Nineveh and preaches to the people. To Jonah’s surprise and disdain, the people repent and seek God’s forgiveness and mercy.  God accepts their repentance and spares the entire city. But Jonah was angry and bitter that God did not carry out His threat to destroy Nineveh. In the end, God had to remind Jonah that in spite of their evil, He wanted to give the entire city a chance to repent, turn from their sins, and seek His forgiveness.

We may think that our sins are never as bad as some of the sins committed by characters in the Bible. And yet, we sometimes blur the distinction between right and wrong. We may conveniently explain or justify our sins as behavioral issues or due to genetics and heredity. When we begin to apply these explanations to our sins, we begin to lose our spiritual discernment. In a sense, we cannot discern between our right and left.

Our spiritual discernment can only come from accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is never too late to do this. And when you do, God will always welcome you and begin the transformation to make you more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

Love and respect the Lord; seek His will in your life.