"Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!"
The ancient Assyrians were known for their brutal, psychological warfare...heaping the heads or bodies of their enemies into pyramids in front of their defeated foes cities. Caging one king with a dog collar into a constructed kennel in front of one conquered city's gate. Impaling defeated warriors on stakes, skinning fallen soldiers and lining their city walls with their epidermis. Deporting whole classes of people to other countries and resettling the lands with foreigners; uprooting, severing and erasing history, culture and sense of place. These warmongers were supreme in their craft of violence, masters of blade, spear, chariot and horse...they ruled with a bloody fist.
And God had compassion on them and called Jonah to go preach to them...and those manhunters...repented and God relented of His coming judgment for another generation.
I thought of this story as I reflected on a recent murder that took place a block from our church and two blocks from our home. This picture above is the memorial placed on the sidewalk where a man had a knife stuck in his throat in an argument with a woman.
I thought about Jonah, who chose to flee from the call to enter the "Bloody City" and instead bought a ticket to a far off Mediterranean port. I wrestled with the call to go to the barbarians and live among them...the fear, threat, danger and psychological challenge that is presented in living on sidewalks where blood is spilled. Do we flee or stand? I understand Jonah's trepidation and the wrestle with the implications of such a call. Until you are faced with such realities...the cost is simply theoretical. In these moments Mission must be birthed out of Divine Compassion and a clear sending mandate...or the seaports siren call...will overpower your sense of "doing something good" for the community.