Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah%201-4&version=NIV
Each time I read the story of Jonah, I have to admit that the end saddens me. I mean what happened to Jonah…did he stay angry, did he die angry, did he have an epiphany that was not written in the book???? And then I am reminded about Paul in the NT….who also kind of faded away. WHY??? Because God wants us to KNOW HIM through HIS Words. The people, the REAL people we read about provide us with great examples some of how to live and some of how not to live….but ALL should pull our minds and hearts to the author and finisher of our faith…THE GOD OF THE HOLY BIBLE. We may not know what happened to Jonah or Paul, but we DO know what will happen when Jesus comes again…..AMEN!!! We would be wise to KEEP our focus on God and our PERSONAL relationship with HIM. The Words we are reading are LIVING Words. The Words we are reading are about the ONE TRUE LIVING God. God uses EACH Word that HE breathed to show us more about HIM … not necessarily about the people in the Scriptures. I am so grateful we read Job in the very beginning because when the people in the Bible, people just like you and me have questions to ask God …. The book of Job revealed to us through God’s questions to Job….that there are simply things we will never know on this side of heaven. Our FAITH and BELIEF are to be in OUR LOVING MERCIFUL AWESOME GOD. God is God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever….to infinity and beyond. God’s Words are to teach us, comfort us, show us God’s true-forever character, bring us peace, salvation, love, and once we know HIS character —– especially once we KNOW the changes HE has made in our lives because of HIS character….THEN HE tells us to “GO”…. share it with others!!
And that is exactly what God wanted Jonah to do. Jonah was a prophet. HE KNEW the LORD was loving and merciful and that IF he went to Nineveh…..they would KNOW God too and have salvation!! Jonah KNEW this….SO.. WHY did he run in the opposite direction of Nineveh?? WHY did he so boldly rebel/disobey/not listen to God?? I MEAN come on….DID HE REALLLLLLLY THINK HE COULD RUN AND HIDE FROM GOD???? Apparently he did….because he certainly ran……ummmmmmm….been there myself in certain situations in my life!! UG!!
As I read this today, I kept thinking about when 9-11 happened in the US. I knew people who were in those towers, people who actually survived, and I am sure you knew some of the people there on that dreadful day in our Nation’s history. For the first time since the Civil War….we were attacked on our OWN soil (Pearl Harbour, Hawaii was not one of the States during WWII.) Pearl Harbour was attacked December 1941 and Hawaii did not become a State of the US until August 1959. As our Nation and the people who LOVE her watched this event in horror, we soon began to know our enemy!! Many people wanted revenge, many wanted to hate the enemy forever for destroying the Nation we knew, for taking lives of those we loved, for making evil come to life on our soil!! So, as you think about 9-11….and the people who rejoiced in causing this travesty…what would YOU do if God placed on your heart that you were to go to the country responsible for destroying the Twin Towers and 3000 people in them…and tell them about God, HIS love, HIS grace, HIS mercy because time is short and when Jesus makes HIS triumphant final entry and the final judgement comes the ONLY way OUT of that final judgement (eternal damnation) is by KNOWING Jesus Christ and BELIEVING IN HIM?? Once Jesus comes to take us home….it will be toooooo late for people to make “another choice.” WHAT WOULD YOU DO?? Would you say YES LORD, SEND ME….or would you RUN (maybe thinking God wouldn’t notice)? Well….that is where Jonah was….and he tried to RUN.
EVERY Book can be traced back to Genesis. AND EVERY BOOK (every page) reveals something about Jesus to us. Do you remember Noah’s 3 sons. One of them, Ham, mocked his father for being naked and drunk. Noah cursed him and his descendants, and from that line we see all the enemies to Israel. The capital of that nation is Nineveh.
“The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” (Genesis 10:10-11)
Later when we read the book of Nahum we will hear about the guilt of the Assyrian people, but Jonah was VERY aware of their wicked ways. He hated them. When he was told to preach to them he ran the other way. He did not want them to receive God’s redemption, because he KNEW they were “bad to the bone”!! He felt they did not deserve redemption by God’s grace, mercy, and love. He had most likely seen people he loved and prayed for severely harmed by the Assyrians…..after all they were Israel’s enemy!!! He WANTED them to fall under God’s judgment like the Edomites. HE KNEW if they repented and were spared, then Israel for sure would fall to their hands, however, if they stayed evil then the Lord might spare Israel. In our humanness we can certainly understand Jonah’s FEELINGS and REASONINGS. BUT Jonah’s feelings and rationalization were NOT God’s!!!
So Jonah…. fled to Joppa and boarded a boat to Tarshish……in the COMPLETE OPPOSITE direction of Nineveh!! While on the boat these non-believing mariners were kind to Jonah. They actually tried to save his life once they KNEW he had brought the storm upon them. Jonah—the believer was not so kind in his actions towards Nineveh, right? Jonah confesses to what he has done, who he is, where he was supposed to be,
and WHO HIS God was. Jonah told these mariners to toss him overboard and then the storm would calm down!!! Did you notice that the mariners PRAYED to OUR GOD??? THEY WERE CONVERTED. THEY BELIEVED IN THE ONE TRUE GOD WHO NOT ONLY COULD CREATE THE STORM BUT COULD ALSO STOP IT??? Even in Jonah’s rebellion…the story of the GOD HE SERVED converted these mariners!!! WOW!!
Did you notice how Jonah’s act of rebellion toward God did not just impact Jonah…..it impacted those around him. A great reminder that in our rebellion, and sin, or “casual” pulling away from God…..can and will impact the lives of many!!
The mariners cast lots for who was causing the problem. When God told HIS people to cast lots, it was HIS way of guiding them. However, for people who worshiped idols and other gods…..casting lots was a form of witchcraft. God “fixed” the casting of the lot so that Jonah would be sent overboard so the huge fish swallowed him up. Sounds pretty wild doesn’t it? However, our God can and does work through ALL things. He created EVERYTHING. IMHO believing that a fish swallowed Jonah and “housed” him for 3 days is no different than my believing in the fact that God created the earth, the heavens, and ALL things in them in 7 days; the fact that Jesus became man yet was God and HE was PERFECT; the fact that Jesus died and rose on the third day FOR US so we could have eternal life with HIM….so WE could have salvation!!! With God … ALL things are possible!!!
In several commentaries I read there are historical records that establish Jonah’s presence in Nineveh, a change in the culture, and that fish really do swallow people. In our “folk lore” of this story we always hear that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but people believe it was not a whale but simple a gianormous fish….something of a sea creature of that day. The part where the fish “vomits” Jonah onto dry land…made me laugh. I mean here the man is….all stinky and sticky…been in the belly of a fish for three days (I just have thoughts of the smell when I open a can of TUNA….and multiply that times 100 for Jonah’s stench.) You KNOW he had to meet people who found him on the shore…..and in addition to being quite odiferous…he was probably solid white from no sun AND all the acids in the fish’s belly!! The “finders” of Jonah may have even thought he was a ghost!!! Once he was “vomited” up….the Scripture tells us it took him 3 days to get to Nineveh so based on this there are Christian researchers that can tell where he was most likely “hit land”. Kinda KEWL—eh? And you just thought this was a story/a myth/a legend someone dreamed up about a man and a fish. I say NO WAY it was anything thing but the absolute TRUTH that really happened.
So Jonah lives, is told by God a second time to share the Word of God with Nineveh…and he does. WHEN he shares the WORD, it is SOOOOO powerful that in 3:5 we are told Nineveh BELIEVED GOD. (THAT is how powerful His Words are…I mean look at us, 6 months and we are STILL reading HIS WORD, these living, precious, words are what changed Nineveh and what changes US TODAY!! WE’VE GOT THE POWER!!!
SO why did God want to forgive and did forgive the repented nation of Assyria? God’s judgment on us is not punishment, but correction. THERE is a HUGE difference. Until the 2nd coming of the Lord…..we ALL have a choice to follow HIM or not. GOD wants EVERYONE to have this opportunity out of HIS love. He disciplines us to make us a better person. The Assyrians were not Jewish and God needed to show all of Israel, including Jonah that his love and forgiveness was for the WHOLE world, not just them. HE also wants US to KNOW it is for US TOO!!! The term Chosen people does not infer that God loved them any more than He loves us, it means He chose them to be His INSTRUMENTS on this earth, to bring Jesus to save us from ourselves.
The book ends quite suddenly with Jonah being angry about the worm eating the vine. He was more concerned with his comfort in life than the salvation of people in this world. How much like Jonah are we in our own personal lives? Are we more concerned in our personal comfort than we are about sharing the WORD of God with a hurting world…..the “world” God calls us to share with is different for each of us. For some it literally means packing their bags and heading across the globe, for others it simply means sharing with those around us…people we know and love who don’t know HIM….friends, family, coworkers, church members, and even the enemies we have in our personal lives. “God never gives up, HE never lets go” of HIS love for us or of HIS desire for us to WANT to share HIM with others.
In the overview of Jonah, I mentioned Matthew 12:38-42… Jesus compares his death and resurrection to Jonah’s time in the fish…the fact that after 3 days and being “vomited up”… Jonah survived to tell Nineveh about God!! Check it out for yourself by clicking here http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2012:38-42&version=NIV
God still used Jonah mightily even through his rebellion, self-centeredness, “disappearance” and wrong focus. LOOK at how many were saved through the life of Jonah!! Today ….. many a child has come to know our mighty God through the story of a man and a big fish. His story certainly has confounded many a wise man in our generation who are so busy searching for proof that they miss GOD!!! 1 Corinthians 1:27 says: ”But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”
Today…. yes we did read a Scripture about a man and a big fish, but it also about a BIG God whose love for us is so HUGE that he uses such a simple story to show us how important we are to HIM!! (Nineveh=USA —-salvation is for ALL who CHOOSE to BELIEVE in Jesus like Nineveh did.) Jonah is a Scripture that foreshadows the coming of Jesus Christ….his birth, his death, his resurrection, and our redemption, salvation, abundant life with HIM on this earth, and eternal life with HIM when our time on earth is complete!!!
Matthew 12 verse 41 it says that Nineveh and the Queen of the “South” will “condemn this generation” who CHOOSE to NOT walk in the way of the Lord. Nineveh and the Queen of the “South” came to know the one true God through Jonah and Solomon and HOW MUCH greater is Jesus for our day?????
SO… here is the question of the day…HOW has God called you to share with others? In HIS calling, are you a Jonah and running the other way? Remember, God uses one person at time, one action at a time to reach others. God will NEVER force us to do anything, just as HE will NEVER force us to believe in HIM….we are FREE to CHOOSE!! Just know HE is asking and is waiting on our response.
I hope you will share how God touched you today, what HE placed on your heart, what stood out to you that you never saw before, and anything else The Lord placed on your heart. You can always share on the blog below or shoot me an email at email@example.com and be SURE to use the SUBJECT field of BLOG so I don’t accidentally trash it. I always love hearing your comments and your thoughts. AND… I certainly makes errors….so if you catch one…please share so I can correct it on the blog!!!
Sharing HIS love,