THE REST OF THE STORY
How long has it been since you read the short book of Jonah? You know… the minor prophet who got swallowed by a huge fish because he ran away from God? A massive storm befell the ship Jonah was on. Jonah admitted to the sailors that the horrible weather which came upon them was because he, Jonah, was not obeying the Lord God. The sailors did their best to help Jonah, but, in the end, there was nothing to do but throw Jonah overboard. As soon as they did so, the weather subsided. The sailors praised the Lord and sacrificed to Him. And Jonah was swallowed by the great fish.
Inside the great fish, after 3 long days, Jonah prays a heartfelt prayer to God, and God hears Jonah’s prayer and answers Jonah. Jonah is vomited up onto dry land. Once on dry land, Jonah does what God asked him to do. He entered the great lost city of Nineveh. God told Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh that the city would be destroyed because of its sinfulness. But, much to Jonah’s surprise, the peoples’ hearts are smitten, and they repent, from the king and his nobles, down to the common folks.
Is Jonah happy because his revival is a success? No, he is not happy. In fact, Jonah is MAD at God! Jonah tells God that this is the reason he ran away from God’s instructions because Jonah KNEW God would forgive the citizen of Nineveh, just as God did. Jonah is DEPRESSED. Jonah wants to die.
God tries to help Jonah. He raises a shade plant to relieve Jonah from the desert heat. But even though Jonah is comfortable, he is still angry. The next day, the brand new plant has withered, and Jonah is REALLY depressed.
God speaks to Jonah about the value of life… there were 120,000 people in the city of Nineveh: people who did not know their right hand from their left. (Sound familiar?) Where was Jonah’s compassion for those people? Jonah was there, walking their streets, looking into their eyes… and afterward, he stood outside the city and hoped God would destroy all those people. What is wrong with this picture?
Every time I read the book of Jonah, I am on the edge of my seat, waiting for the end of the story… and every time, I am disappointed. The book just… stops. I want to know what happened to Jonah. Jonah prayed that God would let Jonah die. God tries to talk some sense into Jonah, but there is no sign that Jonah is listening to God. Does Jonah’s free will trump God’s desire for Jonah? That would be very sad for Jonah. Or does God manage in the end to convince Jonah of God’s truth and get him back on his feet, being a minor prophet for God? My personal fear is that the story of Jonah did not end well… for Jonah.
How do we not be like Jonah? God has a plan for each one of us. It can be a very important plan. Jonah intervened on behalf of 120,000 souls, and they responded to Jonah’s preaching. Why wasn’t Jonah delighted about his success? It seems Jonah did not know his own God very well; he was not delighted with the things that delighted God. It is rather odd because Jonah was able to hear from God. Jonah was able to have a real conversation with God, but he did not seem to appreciate what he had. Why? I don’t know. What I DO know is that talking to God and listening for what God says to me is key to living the best life possible. If you hear God’s Voice, don’t take it for granted. Our God is an awesome God. An AWESOME God! Praise His Holy Name!
PRAY THE WORD
But I will sacrifice to You
With a voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.
Thank You, Father God, for Your faithfulness and Your grace! We do give You thanks! Let us do the works You have set before us, and do it humbly and with a deep desire to please You. Help us to spot the sins of our heart. Help our relationship with You to be constant. Help us to care about the things You care about. Help us to love those whom You love. Let us serve You, with gladness, all the days of our life. In the name of Your precious Son Jesus, we pray.