Reflections On The Book of Jonah
The story of Jonah begins with a call from GOD to minister repentance and salvation to the city of Nineveh. Notice Jonah did not verbally say "no" to GOD concerning his call but he said no by his deed and actions (1:3). Brothers, let's not be deceived in believing that just because we haven't verbally told GOD "no", that our deeds and actions aren't sending the same message. Have we been saying "no" to GOD in our deeds and actions?
Jonah now finds himself running in the exact opposite direction of where GOD is calling him to. Notice that Jonah's disobedience required him to pay with his own money to "escape" GOD's call (1:3). I believe this shows us that our disobedience to GOD is often a costly price to pay. However, Jonah's obedience cost him absolutely nothing except his rendered heart. When Jonah chose to be obedient and request he be thrown into the sea, GOD sent a fish to literally transport Jonah to his destination (1:17). Jonah was even given the very words to say to the great city of Nineveh (3:2). In essence, GOD payed Jonah's entire bill to carry out his call. Brothers, when GOD asks us to do something we can completely trust that HE has already prepared everything needed to accomplish the mission. There is no need for us to fear. Have you been attempting to evade the call of GOD because of a fear?
Jonah now finds himself at the peak of his disobedience believing that he has actually "escaped" GOD's call. He has even made the decision to become "comfortable" in his disobedience to GOD as the Bible states that he was "fast asleep" down in the sides of the ship (1:5). Jonah had become so sure that he was going to do what he desired that he developed the boldness to sleep in the midst of his disobedience to GOD. Jonah had entered into the deadly "comfort zone". This is a place where we become so comfortable in our disobedience to GOD that we no longer recognize the great danger that we are actually in. Jonah had no idea that the ship he was sleeping on was literally being torn apart board by board because of the wind GOD had sent to correct his path. Brothers, disobedience to GOD can lead us into a deceptively deadly "comfort zone" where we no longer realize that danger (or the enemy) is literally at our doorstep about to get in. Let's consistently stand on guard and watch for one another to ensure that we don't enter into a "comfort zone" where we have become numb or oblivious to the presence of danger, and most importantly GOD. Have we become numb to the presence of GOD? Do we really understand what's going on around us and what direction GOD wants to take us in?
Jonah found true Rest and peace in GOD when he decided to obey and requested to be thrown into the sea (1:5). Brothers notice what happens when Jonah chooses obedience. The men who threw him off of the ship worshipped other gods by evidence of their cry to these gods when they realized the ship was being destroyed (1:5). When Jonah rendered himself to walk in obedience the men who previously worshipped other gods came to fear the LORD exceedingly, offered a sacrifice to the LORD, and made vows (1:16). Brothers this testimony is powerful as it proves that when we choose to obey GOD, others become the benefactors of our obedience and lives are changed. These men who were just crying out to false gods a few verses earlier came to fear the LORD exceedingly, gave a sacrifice to the LORD, and they also made vows. The word exceedingly is defined as being to a "greater extent". They offered a sacrifice to GOD which shows that they recognized HIM as the True and Living GOD who is LORD of all. I do not know the details of what vows the men made but we understand from the context that they made the vows to GOD. It is very possible that the men surrendered their lives to GOD that day because of Jonah's obedience. Brothers, we do not always understand how GOD is going to impact the people around us or even the world because of our obedience to HIM. How many lives could be saved if we would just obey GOD?
Jonah now finds himself in the belly of a fish that GOD sent to redirect his path. Jonah is now in a true place of comfort because he is in the will of GOD. Jonah prays a prayer of thanksgiving because he was almost destroyed for going in the wrong direction but GOD showed him Mercy and Grace. Are we thankful to GOD for showing us Mercy and Grace even when we deliberately turned away from HIM?
Jonah did not run from the call of GOD because he was merely afraid of public speaking or because he was nervous about preaching. Jonah ran from the call because HE had made up in his own mind that the city of Nineveh did not deserve to receive GOD's Mercy and that he did not want to be apart of seeing them saved. Jonah became very angry when he saw that GOD showed Nineveh Mercy (4:13)
Jonah had become so bold in himself unit he actually thought it was ok for him to decide who deserved GOD's Mercy and who did not. This was a very dangerous place for Jonah to be because he was essentially making judgments that only GOD reserved the right to make. Jonah took it upon himself to make GOD sized decisions. Jonah's only responsibility was to say "yes" to GOD and be obedient. GOD asked Jonah "how could you be angry at the destruction of a plant that I rose up to cover you but not be Merciful to a city of 120,000 people who were preparing to face destruction? (4:11)" Brothers, do we only become grieved when we ourselves are going through a rough situation? Do we only care when there is a situation that affects us or our family? Brothers, we should grieve for those that are not saved and be swift to be obedient to GOD and minister salvation to the lost. Brothers, are we guilty of not obeying GOD because we "felt" as though someone didn't deserve GOD's Mercy and Grace? Do we ignore GOD's call because we don't "like" someone? Brothers this should not be. We must hold each other accountable to be obedient in what GOD is calling us to do. We must be sure to watch and pray to uplift one another when we see one stumbling. Most importantly, we must Love one another with the Agape (unconditional) Love of GOD.
Scripture of thought (Jonah 4:9-11)
May GOD Bless you,