Jonah 1 -- 4
The Lord directed Jonah: Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry (preach) against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:2). It appears Jonah made the mistake of believing that, since Nineveh was a wicked, heathen city and a potential threat to Israel, it didn't deserve a warning before being destroyed. Jonah was probably even delighted with the good news that the judgment of God would soon fall upon Nineveh, for he could not fathom so great a love by God that it would reach even to Israel's enemies.
Forgetting King David's declaration that there was no place man could hide from God: Where shall I flee from Your presence (Psalms 139:7-9), Jonah decided to flee from the commission of God to be a missionary in Nineveh. Jonah must have felt fortunate when he discovered a ship was sailing to Tarshish (the most remote of the Phoenician trading places) on the exact day he arrived in Joppa. Nineveh was east of Israel, but Tarshish was a seaport city of the western Mediterranean region.
For a while, events seemed to favor Jonah's "vacation plan" and gave him such peace of mind that he was soon fast asleep on the ship (Jonah 1:5). However, favorable circumstances in avoiding the will of God are only temporary and they never lead to a pleasant end. Jonah did not expect to be thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. After three days of soul searching, a repentant Jonah was vomited onto dry land by the great fish. He then became the greatest evangelist of his day, resulting in the entire city of Nineveh repenting of its wickedness. God could have chosen another prophet and let Jonah sink in the sea. But God was merciful and dealt patiently with Jonah, teaching him the importance of obedience, and demonstrating His love and longsuffering toward both the prophet and the repentant pagans when He offered His grace to them and they accepted.
God loved this disobedient prophet too much to permit him to enjoy his own selfish ways. Like Jonah, some people persist in doing what pleases them rather than prayerfully seek to do the will of God. They eventually end up paying a heavy price for their disobedience.
After much suffering, Jonah eventually submitted to God's will. Today, as servants of the Lord, we can avoid the mistakes of Jonah and the chastening of the Lord. The willingness of God to forgive the greatest of sinners who repent was made known when Nineveh's king and its people repented and were spared from the destruction that Jonah had prophesied. The Apostle Peter declared: The Lord . . . is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).
Like the people of Nineveh, we are taught that the judgment of God is always tempered with His mercy to all who truly repent. We can all be thankful that whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every one whom He receives (Hebrews 12:6). Only those who ignore our loving, merciful, and all-wise Heavenly Father, by refusing to repent and live to please Christ will experience His judgment.
We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:10-12).
By Jonah's experience in the great fish (Jonah 1:7 -- 2:10). Jesus used this as an illustration to tell of His death, burial, and resurrection when the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him as to who He was (Matt. 12:39-40; also I Cor. 15:4).
2:8 lying vanities means false worship.
BPM Staff: Mary Kay Wagner · Pray for Rick Hash and the Bible Pathway Radio Broadcasts on WPYB-AM, Benson, NC · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Linda Arnold · Country: Dominica (86,000) in the British West Indies · Major languages: English and French patois · Religious freedom · 75% Roman Catholic; 12% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord for ways to share His love with others (Hebrews 6:10).
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