Read Jonah 1 – 4
Jonah hits rock bottom - God answered (2:2,7). Enemy humbled, prays for mercy (3:6-10). Jonah is angry! Why? God does not destroy them (4:2).
Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD (Jonah 1:1-3).
The story of the prophet Jonah is one of the best known and most talked about Scriptures from either the Old or New Testaments of the Bible. It is even told in the legends and fables of societies who have no belief in the one true God. It has been the subject of artwork, songs and children's books.
The Book of Jonah really is a simple tale with an easily understandable message. After all, it doesn't take a biblical scholar to know that when God speaks we should obey. If we don't obey, God will answer our disobedience with a reaction designed to steer us in the right direction.
A brief recount of what happens in the chapters of Jonah's ministry would seem to be fitting. Nineveh was a large and important city in the Assyrian Empire. The Word of God tells us it was also a very wicked city. Even so, God was willing to give Nineveh a chance to repent before destruction came her way. This should remind us of the fact that God always sends mercy before judgment. Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).
Jonah was the chosen vessel of God to deliver His message to the city of Nineveh: repent or be destroyed. Jonah chose not to be obedient to God and got on a ship going in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Several commentators have tried to explain Jonah's reasons for not going. Some say the way was treacherous, or that Jonah feared he might lose his life at the hands of the heathen people. Others say Jonah was in the group who believed that the grace of God should be for Israel and no one else. Still others speculate that Jonah felt the people of Nineveh were too wicked and did not deserve forgiveness. Whatever the reason, Jonah disobeyed God. God would have to correct his disobedience to become obedient with the countless souls of Nineveh hanging in the balance. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness (Rom. 6:16).
God corrected Jonah's thinking with three days in the belly of a great fish. After that experience, Jonah made the journey to Nineveh and shared the message from the Lord. The people of Nineveh heard the Word of God and repented.
Obedience to God and His Word is very important. We never know what plan the Lord may be ready to manifest in our lives. The Lord will use those who are obedient as agents of change. Every decision has a consequence. Make the decision to obey God.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Thought for Today:
The Bible reveals God's plans and promises only to those who take time to read.
By Jonah's experience in the great fish (Jon. 1:7 – 2:10). Jesus used this historical event as an illustration to tell of His death, burial, and resurrection when the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him (Matt. 12:39-41; also 1 Cor. 15:3-4).
2:2 hell in O.T. 31 times (from Sheol, used about 65 times), to hide, cover, or the grave. In the N.T. Jesus used hell (from Hades, Gehenna) to explain an after-death place of torments (Matt. 8:29; Luke 16:23,28; Rev. 14:10; 20:10); 2:8 lying vanities, worthless idols, false worship; 3:10 God repented, He was grieved; 4:5 booth, shelter; 4:8 vehement, scorching.
Prayer Suggestion: In times of trouble, pray and seek comfort in the Word of God (Ps. 119:50).
Memory Verse for the Week: Psalms 145:14