Jonah Stories

 

Read: Jonah 1-4     

How long has it been since you have read the story of Jonah?  This peculiar story in the Old Testament is an example of God’s grace for all people (Jonah and Nineveh) and the importance of our obedience to God when he calls us to a particular task (Jonah).  Some people find it difficult to take the Book of Jonah seriously because they find it hard to believe that a man could be swallowed by a whale and live to tell the story. But in 1927 the Princeton Theological Review shared the account of this happening to a man in 1891 who underwent a similar experience and also lived to tell his story.

While the story is very intriguing there is an even bigger reason that it is in our Bibles.  It has to do with two big themes of God’s salvation story.  First, Jonah is told to go to Nineveh and turn the people back to God from their very sinful ways.  This shows that God is concerned about all people, even those who are living in sin and very far away from his will.  God wants to see all people come to grace and be restored.  This is a helpful reminder for us as we look at our world and the sin that is so ever-present.  God wants to bring redemption to all.

Second, when Jonah is called to undertake this important but difficult job, he runs the other way.  He flees on a ship, is thrown overboard, swallowed by a big fish, and then spit up on the shore.  Jonah disobeyed and ran from God and yet he is given another chance at redemption.  This time Jonah heads to Nineveh and obeys the Lord.  There is a lesson here in both obedience and grace.

I recently read a story about a man in Israel who in 2016 petitioned for a restraining order against God.  He went to court in the port city of Haifa and told the judge the God had been treating him “harshly and not nicely.”  No specific details were given as to what made him feel this way but this man had even called the police to his home 10 times to report God’s alleged crimes.  Tired of his many calls, the Police finally advised him to try taking out a restraining order.

That recent news story made me think of Jonah.  When called to go to Nineveh perhaps he felt as if God was treating him “harshly and not nicely.”  God is a loving and caring God but sometimes he calls on us to do things that are difficult, hard, and things that even go against our human will.  I think of all the people who have responded to God’s call in wonderful and dramatic ways and I hope that our response would be one of obedience to God and not a desire to follow our own fleshly desires.  What is God calling you to this week?  Be obedient and he will supply whatever you need for that calling.

Make it Personal:  Read the story of Jonah again.  It’s only four short chapters and not really that long.  Think about what God is trying to tell you through this story in the Old Testament.  It is there for a reason.  As you read it be sure to see the full picture of God’s love and compassion for all people.  No one is beyond redemption.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church