Thrown overboard, swallowed by a fish and vomited up on shore.. a great way to start a new ministry opportunity. The story of Jonah strikes us as a significant story to teach us about God’s divine will and our participation in it. It also shows us the great lengths by which God will go to show his compassion.
This past week as we looked at the story of Jonah we saw that his running from God was more than fear, it was based on anger and prejudice. Jonah knows God wants to save Nineveh. He has to have his perspective adjusted to acknowledge what he was called to do…
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord , and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord .’ ” (Jonah 2:7-9 NIV)
Jonah finally goes and does as God had instructed, having been given a second chance. The people of Nineveh repent and turn to God. He is compassionate towards them and does not bring judgment. This upsets Jonah who was looking for some punishment to befall them..
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord , “Isn’t this what I said, Lord , when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord , take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:1-3 NIV)
It is interesting how Jonah is upset because of the attributes of God: gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. Jonah’s story gives us many insightful perspectives to learn from:
- You cannot run away from your problems
- God’s will trumps any plans we have
- God may inconvenience you to give others hope
- Admit when you are wrong/take responsibility for your mistakes
- Cry out to The Lord – before you are in trouble! (Sailors/Jonah)
- The fear of The Lord is the beginning of knowledge
- God is not afraid to use the bizarre to get your attention (The Whale )
- Time to think may change your perspective
- The Lord will bring us out ‘of the grave’ (dying in our mistakes)
- The Lord shows compassion
- Grace is available for everyone
- Forgive as God forgives
What stands out to you in Jonah’s story? Do you need to forgive someone?
Let’s be people who are becoming more like the character of God.