Jonah knew God. Jonah heard God speak. Jonah didn’t like what He (God) said – so he ran away.
We know the story.
He was asked to go and preach to a certain ‘bunch’ of people.
These people were sinners (‘who isn’t’ we might ask?), but they needed to give up their wrong ways and acknowledge God.
And guess what? Jonah did not like the result of his successful preaching.
This has to be one of the most contradictory stories in the bible. Preachers preach to be successful, to see results, to bear fruit. Having done so, Jonah was not pleased.
First he did everything he could to – not preach.
A whole series of events including a dive to the depths of the sea into an unknown/unspecified species of fish.
At the end of the day – Jonah had God – so demonstrate His sovereign hand in his life, that he could only obey, after much rebellion and refusal to do as he was bidden.
I remember teaching Jonah’s story and perhaps I wasn’t the first to establish that Jonah was on a downer.
He went down to Joppa, down to the harbour, down into a boat, down into the ‘hold’ in the boat, down into his bed, down into the sea and down into a fish.
He came up in a rather sickly but necessary way onto the shore again.
He then decided he had better just do what God asked him to do.
Humility is going down before the feet of Jesus. All who genuinely do so will come up again and follow Him.
As we call folks to obey Christ and accept His salvation – rather than do so, some will set-off on their journey to the depths, or having reached the depths of being on a downer, I hope-they-will-learn from Jonah and come back-up by obeying God.
We all, like sheep, go astray. We think our way is best. There is a way and it seems right to us (it is our own invention) – but the end of it – is death.
There are many plans in a person’s heart but the counsel of God above and beyond our thinking and decision making – will stand.
The biggest part of a Christian’s life is not our performance as in doing good – but rather with the awareness of our imperfections and shortcomings – we embrace and appreciate with humility the fact that God should choose us to be his sons and daughters, as we exercise faith in Him.
We would have been among those who listened to Jonah’s repentance message, demonstrated by the fact that we listened and responded to Christ’s message.
If you are in any way like myself, you will not be celebrating a life lived the way you wanted it to be.
One hundred percent pleasing to God would be wonderful. But in my own estimation I fall far short.
Nevertheless I rejoice because Psalm 32 says:
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
At that time in history the Ninevites enjoyed the experience of Psalm 32. Regardless of what subsequent generations of Ninevites did.
Every generation is confronted with the same message – a message that won’t be categorised as ‘cool’ or ‘newly current’, because it’s as old as time itself.
It will never change and defies man’s so called intellectual advancement, scientifically or in any other way.
The Message is clear: John 3/16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Jonah probably saw the Ninevites as a threat to his own nation because of their barbarous ways.
They stand as an example illustration of how even the most hardened individual(s) can turn and be changed by the Power of Christ and His salvation.