Those of you familiar with the story of Jonah are probably wrinkling your eyebrows and pursing your lips in skepticism with one glance at the title of this blog post. I can already hear the ‘pfft’.
‘Umm..I’m pretty sure Jonah ran from God, begrudgingly completed his assignment, then got pissed when the people repented. Why would I want to do what Jonah did?’
Congratulations. You know your Bible.
That doesn’t negate the fact that there’s a Jonah in all of us.
Chances are, you very well might be running from the Lord right now. Or, you might be delaying obedience. Or, you might even be sulking and seething, envious of the grace of God on someone else’s life. I have found myself in one of Jonah’s moods many a time. Let’s lay down our pride and learn from the story of Jonah together, shall we?
For this blog post, we’re going to look specifically at the first chapter. Read that here.
Here’s a summary:
- Jonah was a prophet. Jonah was God’s mouthpiece. He had a call on his life from God to speak the words that God put in his mouth to the people God told him to go to. He had been given a difficult assignment: go tell the people in Nineveh to repent. “The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
- Jonah disobeyed. “But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.” (Jonah 1:3)
- His disobedience affected those around him. “But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.” (Jonah 1:4-5)
- Jonah didn’t care. He slept. “But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.” (Jonah 1:5b)
- Despite his disobedience, Jonah was still set apart by God. “Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit.” (Jonah 1:7)
- Jonah responds with a confession of faith. “Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” (Jonah 1:9)
- Jonah repents. “And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” (Jonah 1:11-12)
- God stops the storm. “Then they (the sailors) cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!” (Jonah 1:14-15)
- God is glorified: “The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.” (Jonah 1:16)
- God provides shelter for Jonah. “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)
If you relate to anything I’ve just written, please read this word from the Lord:
1. Wake up. Your disobedience is causing a storm that is affecting other people. BUT YOU ARE ASLEEP! Here’s the call to you: wake up! Open your eyes! See what your actions have caused in the lives of other people.
2. Confess your faith. Who do you worship? Do you worship the Lord, the God of heaven? Do you worship money? Do you worship yourself? Do you worship your accomplishments, your reputation, your own strength?
3. Confess your sin & repent! Do the thing that God is telling you to do for your own sake and for the safety of the people around you.
Here’s what God will do:
1. He will stop the storm.
2. He will provide you with shelter.
3. He will be glorified.
Lord, I pray this word reaches the Jonahs who are running from you right now. Forgive us for running from you. Reveal to us our next steps. You are faithful to save. WE LOVE YOU. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!