Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me. Jonah 1:1 & 2
Jonah is a True Story
From the world’s point of view, Jonah and this big fish have become a part of literature, a part of mythical legendary history. Though the story has become a by-word among people, the book is looked upon with ridicule and disbelief, and is laughed out of the Bible as being a kind of fable. It is not taken seriously, it is not taken historically. It is merely to them, a great fish story.
Yet, no matter what people think about this book, we have learned that Jonah was actually a real person, and he is mentioned in other places in Scripture. The book of 2 Kings refers to him as a prophet — a prophet ministering to Israel in the days of Jeroboam. He is referred to by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Jonah Tries to Run from God
God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, Israel’s enemy, with a warning of their pending destruction if they didn’t repent, and turn from their wicked ways. But, Jonah refused and tried to run from God’s call.
But God is ever-present. He knows exactly where we are and what we are thinking. We can never escape from His Presence. Jonah discovered this when there came this great storm, and the mariners cast him into the sea, and a great fish swallowed him.
Jonah is Given a Second Chance
God is giving Jonah a second chance to obey His command. God has not changed His mind at all. He finally has changed the prophet’s mind — but he has not relented about what he wants Jonah to do or say to the Ninevites.
Jonah knew God too well, and that is why he didn’t want to go to Nineveh. If there was the slightest chance for Israel’s arch-enemy to experience the grace of God, he didn’t want to have any part in it. He would much rather see the entire city totally destroyed. But, we learned that God’s ways are not our ways.
If we are running from God – even ignoring His existence, and that He sent His Son, Jesus, as our way back to Him — He is calling to us. Just as Jonah was lost in the sea, and God knew where he was, God knows exactly where we are, and desires for us to cry out to Him for His help and mercy.
So, Jonah finally came to his senses, realizing who is in control and that he had better listen to God and follow His command; and go to Nineveh or suffer the consequence of disobeying Him. But, the message that he brought was one of God’s judgment — not of love!
Ordinarily, that kind of a message would not get much of a reception. And, yet, an amazing thing happens. This city was spared. Why did they listen to Jonah’s message? Because God’s Word is true and His judgments are sure.
Then, we concluded the Book of Jonah by looking at the prophet’s surprising reaction to the entire city repenting and turning to God.
Was he delighted? No! Jonah became angry at God. He became more delighted in a plant that God made for him for shade, than he was in seeing the city completely saved.
So, the Lord took away from Jonah that plant he so enjoyed, by having a little worm devour it, so that it withered and died.
God loved these Ninevites, even though they were disobedient, and Jonah hated them. Is Jonah any different than a lot of us? Sometimes we act as though we would be delighted to see those we perceive as enemies, or have a hatred for, have something terrible happen to them. We call it justice. But God’s love and justice are pure and without prejudices, and goes beyond our ability to understand.
Can anyone say that they are perfect, and truly deserving of God’s love and mercy? “No, not one,” as Psalm 14:3 and Romans 3:10 tell us.
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