THE STORY OF JONAH
Read Jonah Rev. Dennis L. Johnson
Chapters 1,2,3,4. February
Although there are only four chapters in the book Jonah, the story reveals a lot about God, His mercy, and His compassion for sinners.
As a Pastor, I have read the story of Jonah millions of times, and a million times, the story always remained the same to me. It was a boring story about a fish who swallowed a man whole because he disobeyed his God.
But one day, as I was reading the book of Jonah, this time the story was different, this time the story of Jonah was a living story (Read Heb.4:12).
The story had a meaning, and
it had a purpose. God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was revealing the mysteries found in the book of Jonah to me
(Read Mark 4:11).
And the story of Jonah was no longer
about a man and a fish as taught in Sunday School. The story of Jonah was about God reaching out to a wicked nation with the message of salvation (Read Jn.3:16).
As I was reading the story of Jonah, The Holy Spirit
was illuminating and revealing God’s goodness and mercy toward sinners because it is not God’s will that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance
The day God had supernatural opened my eyes, I no longer saw a disobedient man being-swallowed by a whale, but rather, I saw God‘s love for a wicked nation, and including a disobedient servant.
I saw God’s love and His goodness toward His creation. I saw God’s agape love, mercy, and His compassion in the story of Jonah, and I pray this is what you will see as well.
Like us, Jonah was
one of the Lord’s servants as well. God had used Jonah in the past to deliver His message to the Jewish nation (2-Kings 14:25).
However, now, God has an important message for the ears of the people of Nineveh,
and He asked Jonah to deliver this message to the people, and Jonah rebelled and would not go Jonah 1:1-4).
God’s message to the people of Nineveh was no ordinary message;
this message was of great importance. It was a message for the people of Nineveh
to make a choice whom they want to serve God or themselves. The Lord’s message was a life or death message for the people of Nineveh.
God’s message was short, it was clear, and it was to the point. Repent; turn from your wickedness, or be destroyed, period. Said the Lord.
We can learn three important truths
found in the story of Jonah.
1) God deals with sin. Let us make no
mistake about that;
2) He also deals with the sinners.
3) God deals with wicked people as well (Col.3:1-10).
But, there is also good news in the Gospel of Christ. God always allows a sinner the opportunity to repent, and believe the
Gospel, and turn from their wickedness, and God is faithful to forgive them (Read 1-Jn.1:9).
True repentance is more than saying you are sorry for your miss doings. Repentance is about feeling regret and sadness
about a sin or past action, and it causes you to make amends by exchanging your bad habits with good habits (2-Cor.7:1-16).
This is the message God wanted Jonah to deliver to the people of Nineveh.
But Jonah rebelled and fled to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. And instead of being God’s messenger, Jonah becomes a judge. Judging God’s creation; judging God’s people; Judging God’s decisions of whom
should and should not be saved (James 4:11-17).
Not only does God deal with sin but, He also deals with disobedience. God dealt with Jonah’s disobedience, First by allowing a great whale to swallow Jonah,
then God protects Jonah from the jaws of death, in the same instance (Jonah 1:17).
Why did God punish and protect Jonah? Just like the people of Nineveh, it was
will to destroy any of His people, including Jonah, as well as us.
However, God’s will is that Jonah too should repent of his hardness of heart.
In (Jonah 1:5-17)
we see the sailors pray, Lord, do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.
Then the sailors pick Jonah up and throw him
overboard, and while all this is going on, God prepares a great fish to swallows Jonah, thus preserving his life. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. If you ever want to get someone’s attention put them in a dark pit.
This is what God did to Jonah, He put him in the belly of the a great whale.
Sometimes before God can get our attention, He has to shut us up in a pit; He has to Isolate us from the attractions of the world. He
has to remove us from family and friends, and sometimes God has to knock us down before He can get our attention
Jonah was in the belly of the fish,
and he was alive, And he compared Hell to that of being in the belly of a whale (Jonah 2:1-10).
I wonder why it took Jonah so long to cry out to the Lord for help? I wonder what he was thinking about being in the
belly of a great fish? I wonder what he was thinking because he is still alive?
I wonder why it took Jonah so long to
To figured out how merciful God has been toward him,
even though he is being disobedient to the will of God.
There is one thing we can be thankful for, God does not treat us the way we treat Him, or the way we treat one another.
Out of God’s love for His creation He creates three miracles, giving Jonah a second chance to repent and deliver His message to the people of Nineveh.
In the first miracle, God prepares a big fish to
swallow Jonah, thus preserving his life.
The second miracle God performed was the fish swallowed Jonah whole. Jonah survived three days and three nights in the belly of the whale.
And the third miracle God performed for Jonah was He delivered him out of the pit of hell. God hears Jonah’s cry for help. God hears, God responds, and God rescued Jonah out of the pit of the belly of the whale.
God commanded the fish to head toward land and spite Jonah out unto dry land. Once again, God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and deliver His message to the people of Nineveh.
This time Jonah goes to Nineveh
to deliver God’s message to the people. However, he is not happy about doing so. The people of Nineveh hear the words of the Lord; They believe God’s message, repent and, stop doing the
they had been previously doing. God relents and spares the lives of the people of Nineveh. This story should have a happy ending but, it doesn’t. Jonah was unhappy because he knows if anyone repents and turns away from their wicked way of life, God will
forgive them (Jonah 4:1-11).
As Christians we learned a lot from the story of Jonah.
(1) We learned that Jonah had a lot of flaws,
(2) Jonah was prejudice. Peter also struggled with flaws.
Both Peter and Jonah were unwilling to preach outside of the Jewish sect. Although Peter, after God’s intervention, did repent (Acts 10:1-48.
However, Jonah refused.
In a vision, God showed Peter that His salvation is available to anyone who willingly accepts God‘s grace and forgiveness of sin (Jn.6:37).
All through the story of Jonah. It is imperative to notice how God was showering Jonah with grace, compassion, mercy, and patience,
even creating miracles on Jonah’s behalf.
Yet, Jonah refused to repent
Of his hardness of heart.
Like Jonah, when God calls each of us for a mission, He already knows we
flaws, such as: Unforgiving
hearts, selfishness, lying tongues, covertness, backbiters, and many other flaws not mentioned, yet, God calls us
For service regardless of
Just as God desired to change the lives of the people of Nineveh, He wants our lives to be changed as well.
In the book of Corinthians the apostle Paul
tells Christians and believers to examine themselves as to whether they are in the faith (Read 2-Cor.13:5).
What’s in your heart? What is keeping you from spreading the gospel in your community? Like Jonah,
if you too suffer, with a heart that is not willing to forgive, then you need to take a dose of God’s medicine found in (Psalm 51:10). Take one or two doses of Psalm 51:10) daily or as need.
I pray this message
has blessed your day.