July 7. Jonah 1 – 4
So what happened? A great prophet, that is even referenced to by Jesus Christ, runs away from God’s direction and plan for his life. Then he gets tossed off the boat that he using to escape. Then a giant fish swallows him and three days later vomits him onto a beach. Now he runs and finally delivers the message that God first told him to deliver. The city is saved! Celebrate…wait… NOPE. The prophet sulks. He’s mad about the outcome.
Most books in the Bible do not end the way this book does; with a question and the question presented by God, Himself:
Jonah 4:10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry for yourself when your shelter is destroyed, though you did no work to put it there, and it is, at best, short-lived. 11 And why shouldn’t I feel sorry for a great city like Nineveh with its 120,000 people in utter spiritual darkness and all its cattle?”
There may be other questions as well, such as; what was Jonah’s response? What happened to Jonah? Did he die on that mountain? Did he ever have a heart change that lined up with God’s heart for people who are in eternal danger and spiritual darkness?
What happened next? I glean a couple of lessons for my own life when reading this amazing account. First, my questions may not always get answered. But that is not a bad thing. There is mystery in that, there is intrigue and a sense of continued curiosity by me not having all the answers. It causes me to want to stay tuned and discover other mysteries of God and witness the curious ways in which He chooses to work and move.
Secondly, I think about the question that God did ask. If that was an important question for Him to ask, then perhaps it should be an important question for my life as well: “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for the people around me in darkness, without hope and in danger of death and separation from God throughout eternity?
I know that God is motivated by the fact that people are in spiritual darkness and need the true Light. That is why God so loved the world and gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ so that the world could be saved, just as Nineveh was delivered from His punishment of their sin.
Jonah understood God’s mercy as a result of his time in the belly of the fish. Listen to the words of his prayer recorded in chapter 2:
7 “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went to you in your holy Temple. 8 (Those who worship false gods have turned their backs on all the mercies waiting for them from the Lord!) 9 “I will never worship anyone but you! For how can I thank you enough for all you have done? I will surely fulfill my promises. For my deliverance comes from the Lord alone.”
And that is God’s question then if you understand His mercy and deliverance; shouldn’t there be compassion and concern for others that need to experience His mercy and deliverance as well?