I have heard the story of Jonah a million times, but I can’t tell you how many times I read it for myself. I know I’m not alone. Most people take the word of credible people instead of getting an understanding from a personal level. Beyond that, I remember reading it, only this time I got a completely different revelation.
I have been Jonah a few times. I would always get stuck with the boat to fish experience until today. I asked, “What happened when he got to Nineveh?” I couldn’t remember. So instead of going to the commentary, I went to THE BOOK. Literally, (insert big grin here). I am going to share the Nineveh experience through my eyes, praying that God speaks to you personally through my words.
1) Everybody around you, who doesn’t believe what you believe, isn’t out to get you. This seemingly can be difficult to digest for some. The sailors on that boat were going where they set out to go. Apparently they all believe in several different things. They knew that Jonah was running from God, because he told them (Jonah 1:10 NLT), but their initial thought was to save everyone involved. How do I know? In verse twelve, Jonah TELLS them to throw him overboard. What did they do? They started rowing against the storm. To push that point even further, they ended up praying to God, when they realized his solution was the only option left.
2) I could continue to deal with the entire…. “who on God’s earth has been able to successfully run away from God….(not one anybody)…” but that would be an entirely different post. I could even deal with questioning, “How in the world did he get to sleep? Sound Sleep!?!”. But again, that would take another blog. But I will submit: Sometimes your SITUATION is what brings others to God. Once they witnessed the power of God (controlling the start and stop of this violent storm), they begin to believe. Their conversion came when the waves subsided (Jonah 1: 14-16). Storms don’t come to last, they come to pass. Pass it did, bringing along a new bunch to the kingdom. Don’t forget that God is sovereign. He can use any part of your mess for a message! (and by YOUR, I mean MINE! I don’t claim to be put together perfectly…)
3) In Jonah 2:10, God orders the fish to spit Jonah out on the beach. From three days and nights in the mess to dry land. It doesn’t mentioning the fish hesitating, rebutting, or refusing. History tells us that it is very seldom that beached whales survive. God can do the miraculous. He doesn’t fit in our box. Jonah’s situation served our savior when mentioned in a parable later. This parable serves us as well. After you come out, you will be placed in a dry place. That doesn’t always mean a barren place. When you have been drowning in water, the sight of dry land alone brings joy. Jonah was delivered from the belly of the fish in three days, our savior was delivered from the grave in three days.
4) When Jonah gets to Nineveh, finally the message. Jonah’s message wasn’t a happy shout. His message wasn’t sweet greetings and prosperity. Apparently, Nineveh wasn’t a moral hot spot. He brought a message of despair and destruction. This message: “FORTY DAYS from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” I could deal with the significance of forty days…but in another post. Unlike the people of Nineveh, who believed at once, I have rebutted messages of destruction. If you open your mouth again Andonnia… If you do this, he’ll do that. You probably should slow down. You’re moving too fast. Did you think about? I have seen warning flares attached to warnings given to me. My cyclical self didn’t listen the first time. (MESSAGE) Even more powerful, in verse five the people acquiesced and began to fast and pray. In verse six, the KING got the message. He HEARD what Jonah was saying and stepped down from his thrown to fast and pray. When you’re carrying the message of God in obedience, it gets the attention of the high and the low. The king obviously feared the Lord enough to declare both humans and animals would fast. They were seeking the Lord’s mercy. It worked, God spared Nineveh, and then Jonah pitched a tantrum.
5) Have you ever seen, personally experienced, or watched someone get mad at God’s mercy? I have. Easy to identify after the fact, I have been Jonah many times. The word says Jonah was angry and complained. God has delivered you from the storm/fish/death, sustained you while you delivered a message, responded to the people’s repentance, and you have the audacity to complain? Yea, we do it. We pray for a job, spouse, house, child, blessing… get it…and then find something wrong with it. Better yet, someone else gets the blessing we’ve been praying for. (*cue bitterness*) Not only does this poor prophet complain he starts requesting death. I began to give Jonah the side eye right here. I have complained, travailed, cried out, but I’m not requesting the final curtain call. (God still spared him –mercy)
6) Before teaching Jonah a powerful lesson, God asked, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Instead of the Almighty granting emotional requests, instead of punishing the activity, He asks a question. God gives us opportunities to redeem ourselves out of our muck. Jonah 4:5-11 just brought me to tears. God’s response to Jonah’s tirade about the “shady plant” that died, that he didn’t plant, that he didn’t water, but only enjoyed, reminded me that selfishness has many forms. God can be merciful for even a nation in spiritual darkness. They turned to Him and He responded. Nineveh gives us hope for these times. Jonah gives me hope that God’s mercy still covers me: mess-ups and all.