Jonah tickles me (I cannot help but laugh), what was he thinking? Sounds like some of us today - just not as dramatic. I've been there and done that! Trying to run and hide from the Almighty God of the universe, trying to run and hide from our calling into ministry, from an assignment. Was he not acquainted with the scripture that reads, "O Lord, you have searched me, and known me. You knows my downsitting and uprising, you understands my thought afar off. You compassest my path and my lying down, and you are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, you knows it altogether. You have beset me behind and before and laid your hand upon me ... Where shall I go from your spirit? Or, where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me."
When they tossed Jonah overboard, God had a great fish already prepared to swallow him up. You see, God had a lesson plan all mapped out and prepared for Jonah. For three days and three nights, in the belly of that great fish - God had to teach Jonah a thing or two on the perils of disobedience. When you are outside of God's will, you expose yourself to difficulties that could have been avoided, even death. But, God's plan was not to ultimately destroy Jonah but to give him another chance. It takes my mind to the scripture, "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make (prepare) a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."
Is not the Lord wonderful? He allows even our mess ups to work together for our good. Jonah's disobedience had gotten him into this predicament - there is no glory in suffering for something that you brought upon yourself. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap of the flesh corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit, we shall reap of the Spirit everlasting life. "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully - for what glory is it, if, when you are buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
Jonah was placed into a position where he could do nothing but pray! What other options did he have - pray or perish? In his distress, Jonah realized how fragile he was, how arrogant and presumptuous he was to even assume that his decision to not prophecy to Ninevah would somehow derail God's purpose and plan for them. Who was he to question God?
From the belly of hell, in the midst of deep waters that surrounded him on every side, Jonah felt as though God could no longer see him. But, is this not what Jonah wanted - to get away from the very presence of the Lord. Be careful what you desire, because you just may get it and find out it feels just like pure hell. Jonah was alive and trapped, closed in with weeds wrapped around his head and bars surrounding him - he literally thought he was going to die. Then, he remembered the Lord. "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto you, into your holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto you with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord."
I must say again, as, in Part One, there was no surviving this storm (God's wrath) - except through repentance and obedience. "And Samuel said, has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
Once Jonah repented and obeyed, God spoke to the fish and it vomited out Jonah onto dry land. Afterward, God spoke to Jonah the second time, and instructed him to do what I told you the first time, what you should have done in the first place - "Go to Ninevah, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I told you!" God meant business. His work requires haste. God's tone sounds so parental, so authoritative. You do what I told you to do or suffer the consequences!
Jonah knew that God was not playing with him - not this time. There was no time for waiting around, his trip to Ninevah that should have taken three days to make - Jonah made it in one day. The Bible doesn't say how he did it, only that he did it. And, when he arrived, he quickly did the Lord's bidding, "Yet forty days, and Ninevah shall be overthrown."
Praise the Lord! To God be the Glory! As a result, the people of Ninevah believed God and repented. The king of Ninevah proclaimed a fast, called all men to pray and cry unto the Lord and to turn from their evil ways in hopes that God would "...turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" Their plan worked - here we are again, repentance and obedience. When God saw the change, how they had sanctified themselves, He "... repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not." Jonah must have been elated! The angels in heaven rejoice over one soul that repents, and here, an entire nation gave their lives to God! What an awesome testimony!
But, no, Jonah was displeased, and the Bible says, "very angry." I am just going to keep it real. When I read the final chapter of The Book of Jonah, the first thing that came to my mind was - you arrogant prick! That is just like giving God the middle finger. Look at what he said, "I pray you, O Lord, was not this my saying when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I know that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents of the evil. Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live."
What now, his personal agenda is more important than winning lost souls? Did he feel inconvenienced? What now, God could have just gone and spared them without disrupting and uprooting him from his country in order to do it? One Hundred and Twenty Thousand souls saved - but, like Jonah, some pastors and prophets today are more concerned about the material benefits than the destiny of lost souls. If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to pray - repent and obey.
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entered into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
LET US PRAY! Heavenly Father, In the name of Jesus, I come to you confessing and forsaking all of my sins. Father, your Word says that if I call on the name of the Lord, confess Him with my mouth, and believe in my heart that you have raised Him from the dead - I shall be saved. Father, I am taking you at your Word. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that you raised Him from the dead. Forgive me of my sins, come into my heart today, come in to stay and make me a new person in Christ. Fill me with your Spirit as you promised. Thank you for coming into my heart, and for baptizing me with your Holy Spirit! I accept Christ as Lord of my life. Amen.
What should you do next? Read the Bible and pray daily. You can also continue to read "Blogging with Yvonne" for a daily dose of conversation and inspiration to help build your faith. Finally, find a good church home - do it prayerfully and don't rush into it. It is important that you plant yourself in a ministry where you will be taught the Word of God, and where you will grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let God guide you.
SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD, WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!