We all know the story.
Man of God
Asked to do something he doesn’t want to do
Storm threatens to sink his ship
He jumps overboard
Is swallowed by a great fish
The fish spits him out
Prophet does what God asks him to do
And then gets mad at the results
Perfect story, right?
Wait….the ending could use a little work.
I’m a HEA kind of girl, but we don’t get that type of ending with Jonah’s story – except the happy ending of the Ninevites.
In fact, the story isn’t completely about Jonah either.
The true HERO of this story is… GOD.
So, let’s start from the beginning.
Jonah was a prophet, so getting a message from God wasn’t all that shocking to him. But the message God sent to Him on this particular occasion was. Go tell the Ninevites in forty days they’ll be destroyed.
Now Jonah disobeyed God. Actually tried to run away from the presence of God. We could say, he ‘rebelled’.
Because Jonah knew God.
An interesting side note here:
Most people see the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament as having two separate personalities. The OT God being a harsh Judge quick to pour out his wrath on the people of the Earth. Then they view the NT God as a God of mercy and grace, ready to forgive and offer a second chance.
Jonah only knew the OT God – and you know what – that’s why he RAN AWAY. Jonah says in 4:1-2
“God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!”
Jonah didn’t think the Ninevites deserved forgiveness because of their rebellion, so he…er…rebelled.
What does God do with His rebellious kids?
He goes after them…and uses whatever it takes to bring them to obedience. (even a great fish) Because in obedience of God’s law, we have true freedom. Isn’t that a weird thought.
Unfortunately, even though Jonah knew God’s character – he didn’t seem to have a good view of himself in light of God’s character.
Stop by later for Part 2 of Lessons From the Belly of a Whale to find out why Jonah should have had more reason to praise God than the King of the Ninevites.