Resisting God’s Mission

Posted: July 20, 2017 in Jonah, Uncategorized

Jonah 1-2, “Resisting God’s Mission”

It is one of the most famous fish stories in all history – which makes it both a good & a bad thing.  The account of Jonah is simultaneously grace-filled and convicting, and gives one of the best pictures of Jesus’ resurrection that is found in the Old Testament.  At the same time, it’s still a “fish story,” which makes many people question it from the start.  Fishermen are often doubted regarding the size of their catches, and Jonah is no exception.  In fact, his is the grand-daddy of all fish-stories, being a stumbling block for untold numbers of skeptics.

Although Jonah is often imagined with a whale, the Bible never says what sort of sea creature swallowed him.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that it really happened, and that it was such a historical event that the Lord Jesus specifically pointed to it as the sign prefiguring His own resurrection.

Actually, to make Jonah’s story solely about the fish is to miss the main point.  Certainly, it’s the main miracle, but the primary issue is the problem with the prophet.  Jonah was a bona-fide prophet called by the Lord, who not only resisted the mission God had for him, but also the grace that God poured out to others.  This was a prophet who wanted to horde away the grace of God, keeping it only for himself, and not for others.  Jonah is quite the change from Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others!  Other prophets of God were selfless; Jonah was selfish.  But even in his selfishness, God demonstrated grace and mercy, even taking the time to continually teach the prophet that should have known better – helping him mature into the man that God had intended all along.

In fact, there’s evidence that he did!  Although the book of Jonah shows the prophet only in his selfish immaturity, the fact that we have a book at all indicates that Jonah eventually grew up.  Only a person truly humbled by the Lord would author a book that puts himself in such a poor light.  Jonah held nothing back in the description of his formerly pitiful self…which is great credit to his favor.  No doubt, we will see Jonah in heaven alongside the other prophets, humbly worshipping the God he once ran from.

The book splits easily in half, with mirror sections in Chapters 1 & 3.  In each, Jonah receives his call, but only in Chapter 3 does he obey that call.  In Chapter 1, he runs from it…and God runs right after him.  Jonah cannot escape the presence of the Lord, and once he finally submits himself to God’s hand, he learns that he is just as reliant upon the grace of God as everyone else.  The Ninevites weren’t the only ones in need of God’s salvation; Jonah needed it, too.  So do we.

Jonah 1

  • Jonah’s call & rebellion (1:1-3)

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

  • Who was Jonah?  Unlike men like Obadiah and Joel, the Bible actually gives us quite a bit of information about Jonah.  Verse 1 tells us only that he was “the son of Amittai,” but that helps us match him with another reference in the book of the Kings.  2 Kings 14:23–25, "(23) In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. (24) And he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. (25) He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher."  From this, we know that Jonah served as a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria), during the reign of Jeroboam II, another one in a long line of evil kings.  Although God did not allow Israel to be destroyed at that particular time (even going so far as to allow Jeroboam II to increase Israel’s territory, they were not very far away at all from their punishment.  The book of Amos was actually written around this same timeframe to document the many sins of Israel, showing them how their judgment from God was deserved.  Thus, Jonah and Amos were basically contemporaries as prophets, even though their messages and callings from the Lord were drastically different. 
  • God’s command to him: go preach to Nineveh.  That may not sound like much, until we understand the historical context.  Nineveh was one of the chief cities of the Assyrian empire, serving as its capital at various points.  Jonah lived roughly 70+ years prior to fall to Assyria, while the Assyrian empire was on the rise.  The Assyrians obtained quite the reputation for violently subjugating the nations they conquered, and Israel knew that they were on the radar.  Considering that God consistently sent prophets to Israel to tell them of their eventual fall to Assyria (including the book of Amos), Jonah & the rest of Israel didn’t need to look at the geopolitics at the time to know they were in danger; they just needed to know & believe God’s word.  Apparently Jonah did believe it, considering how he acted in response to God’s calling.  God had told him to go to the chief city of his nation’s chief enemy, and tell them of God’s judgment.    Jonah knew that this might entail God’s mercy (4:2), and this left him unwilling to go.  If anyone was to be judged for their “wickedness,” it needed to be Nineveh!
    • Jonah struggled with prejudice, which becomes apparent in the rest of the book as well.  There were certain people he simply did not want saved.  Are there any people like that for us?  Do we pray for our physical enemies such as Islamic terrorists?  Do we pray for our political foes like abortionists?  Who is it that you believe deserves the judgment of God?  Guess what?  We do, too.  We did nothing to earn God’s grace.  We ought to be willing to take the message of His grace even to those people we despise.  Who knows?  Perhaps some of those enemies might become our brothers & sisters in the faith!
  • Jonah wasn’t willing to find out…

3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

  • Jonah’s response to God’s call?  Disobedience.  He literally ran the other way.  Nineveh was 550 miles inland; Tarshish was the furthest place westward across the sea that he could imagine.  So Jonah “arose,” all right, but he didn’t arise according to the Lord’s command.  He rebelled, resisting the mission to which God called him.  God’s own prophet attempted to flee “from the presence of the LORD.
  • Question: is it possible to flee from the presence of the Lord?  Not at all.  Psalm 139:7–10, "(7) Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8) If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (9) If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10) Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me."  How can someone escape omnipresence?  It’s impossible!  Even if Jonah believed he was leaving the nation in which God allowed His presence to specially reside, there was no way that he could truly flee from the God of heaven and earth.  There is no place where God is not.
    • We might try to run from God, but we cannot hide from Him.  Perhaps we think our actions are hidden from His sight.  Perhaps we believe our thoughts are unknown to Him.  If so, we’re wrong.  God knows all things, and He is present in all places.  Sobering?  Yes – but comforting, too!  After all, God is with us in our depression.  He is with us in our suffering – in our trials.  God is even available to us in our sin, though He might seem far away.  Yet all we need do is repent – turn around – and we’ll find Him right there.  Praise God that we cannot outrun the presence of the Lord!  If we could, we might not ever find Him again.  It is in His grace that He makes Himself ever-available to us.
  • The voyage at sea (1:4-16)

4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

  • Notice whence the wind (the “great wind”!) came: the LORD.  The Almighty I-AM “sent” the wind – the text literally saying that He “hurled” the wind upon the sea.  This was no normal weather pattern on the Mediterranean; this was a supernatural storm front!
  • How bad was it?  The ship was “about to be broken up.”  Technically, the Hebrew treats the ship almost as another character at this point, as the ESV & NIV point out.  Literally, it “threatened” to break apart, or it “thought about” being destroyed.  The bottom line is that it’s a picturesque way of saying that things were bad!  From a sailor’s perspective, this was as bad as it could get at sea.  These men were used to sailing through storms (that was just part of the job), but this was something that could easily mean their deaths as the ship groaned, and the boards threatened to break apart at the joints.

5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

  • The sailors acted, post-haste!  They did whatever they could, and whatever they thought would help.  They prayed to their various gods – they tossed supplies and cargos overboard.  It was all-hands-on-deck, everyone doing their part to try to save the lives of everyone else on board.  At least, that’s the way it was for the sailors; Jonah was a different story.
  • Jonah slept, not having a care in the world.  Perhaps he thought it would be better to die than to do to Nineveh.  He had no thought at all regarding the sailors, or anyone except himself. He slept through the whole storm, never bothering to wake and help anyone else.
  • There’s an interesting parallel between Jonah & Jesus in these events.  Both men were on a ship caught in a storm.  Both men were asleep, despite the panic of others.  Yet one man is in sin & the other isn’t.  Why?  Because while Jesus was in the will of God, Jonah was not.  Jesus’ sleep was not the sleep of someone selfishly indifferent to the safety of others; Jesus had full confidence that the boat would not sink.  His trust was in the Lord.  At this point in Jonah’s life, it’s doubtful he could say the same thing.  Jonah’s sleep was one of shutting himself off from the world; Jesus’ sleep was one that was made possible by the peace of God.
    • What kind of sleep do you experience?  (Not to push the analogy too far…)  Where is your faith?  Do you trust the Lord, or yourself?  Self-trust leads to self-deception, which in turn leads to danger.  True trust in the Lord God leads to real peace – the peace that passes understanding. (Phil 4:7)

6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

  • So apathetic was Jonah to the situation on board that it took the captain to personally go down and rouse him from his sleep.  It took a pagan’s insults to finally wake up God’s prophet to the need for prayer.  (Not exactly helpful to Jonah’s witness among the Gentiles!)

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.

  • Superstitious?  Yes – but it was their way of allowing God to guide them.  Instead of blindly choosing someone to blame, they let “fate” (more accurately, the Lord) decide.  One can hardly blame them.  Nothing they did was helping, and the only hope that remained was that of a miracle.  It was dawning upon them that this storm was supernaturally caused, and they required supernatural intervention.  All that was left was to determine which god upon whom to call.  Thus, they cast lots, and all signs pointed to Jonah.

8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

  • True, to a point.  Jonah feared the Lord, but he didn’t obey the Lord.  Technically, he was a worshipper of the one true God.  In practice, he acted just like the Gentiles around him.  Jonah had the name & ethnicity of a Hebrew, but not the lifestyle of one.
    • Our actions matter.  Thankfully, our salvation is not based upon our obedience – we are saved by grace through faith, not of works.  (If it were otherwise, we’d have no hope!)  But that doesn’t mean that our works are worthless & meaningless.  It doesn’t mean that God does not desire our good works.  As a matter of fact, that is one of the reasons He specifically saved us by His grace!  Ephesians 2:8–10, "(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  We’re not saved of works, but we are saved for works, being that we ourselves are the handiwork of God.  This is what Jonah missed.  May we learn from his mistake!  We have the name of “Christian” – may we act like Christians!
  • Notice Jonah’s description of God: He is “the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (1) Jonah gives the sailors the covenantal name of his God, YHWH / I-AM, distinguishing this God from every other god worshipped at the time.  (2)  This God is the God who made all that they saw, including the heavens from which the storm came, the sea upon which they rocked, and the dry land from where they originated.  Unlike Baal who supposedly made one of those things (the land), YHWH God made it all.  For the sailors, this would have been proof-positive that this God was the God behind the life-threatening storm.

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

  • Jonah claimed to fear the Lord, but the sailors had a far more severe reaction.  They were “exceedingly afraid.”  Literally, they “feared a great fear.”  Jonah had a technicality of worship; the sailors had a true fear of the Omnipotent God!  If God could send this storm to them, what else was He capable of doing?  Anything & everything.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10) – these Phoenician sailors were learning this lesson first-hand.
  • By now, Jonah had filled them in on the rest of the details.  Not only was he a Hebrew, but he was a prophet on the run from his God.  He had endangered all of them through his disobedience.
    • Question: how do you think Jonah’s witness was affected by this point?  Again, actions matter.  What we do in front of others tells them much of what we believe about our God.  If we want to be faithful witnesses of the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the grave, then we need to live as people who have actually been transformed by His grace.  Why would others believe in a Resurrected Living Savior, if they cannot see His life within us?

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. 12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”

  • God’s hand was evident, so the sailors asked God’s prophet what to do.  They didn’t know the ways of God, so they asked the only person who did…even if his witness was completely shot by this point.
  • Jonah’s answer might seem heroic, but it’s still incredibly selfish.  If Jonah knew he was the cause, and if he knew his removal from the ship would be the cure – why didn’t he jump?!  So complacent was he towards Gentiles that he would rather force them to do the work that he should have done himself.
    • Beware complacency…it kills.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.

  • The men knew what to do, but they still resisted.  Were they being just as disobedient as Jonah?  No.  They were basically told to send one of God’s prophets to his death.  If the Creator God who made the sea was already doing this to the ship with Jonah on board, imagine what He might do if the sailors brought harm to the prophet!  It’s no wonder they tried everything they could to avoid throwing Jonah overboard.  However, their efforts were futile.  God was forcing their hand.
    • God gives us freewill, but that doesn’t mean He is hands-off. He will move whatever circumstances are necessary to get our attention.
  • The prayer of the sailors is notable.  It’s understandable in the fact that they don’t want to be charged with sin – after all, they’re only doing what God’s prophet told them to do.  They didn’t want harm to come to Jonah, but they were left without a choice regarding their actions.  But notice the trust that is beginning to develop between them and God.  (1) They use the covenant name of God, just as Jonah had previously shared with them.  Typically, that is a name that only a Hebrew would use, but these pagan sailors understand that this was how God had chosen to reveal Himself.  (2) They assert God’s sovereignty in the situation.  They know that God was doing as He pleased, showing that they understood that God was in control.
  • The men prayed, and then they acted.  Unlike Jonah who professed faith and did nothing, these Gentile sailors followed through on what they said they believed.  The result?  Instantaneous calm!  It was a supernatural storm followed by a supernatural peace.  If Jonah’s witness of the Lord was half-hearted, God’s own self-witness was loudly proclaimed!
    • God wants people to know Him!  He’s not trying to hide Himself from anyone who seeks Him in sincerity and truth.  If someone really wants to know God, then there will be a way they will see Jesus.

16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.

  • There was calm on the waters, but not within the men’s hearts.  They continued to fear a great fear, evidently putting their own personal faith and trust in the Lord God.  They feared God as Jonah was meant to fear God, and they responded to the Lord in righteous worship.  That the sailors converted, is an idea that many scholars reject.  They (correctly) point out that the Phoenician sailors were polytheists, and would have no problem simply adding the God of Jonah to the many gods they already worshipped.  They could offer a sacrifice to the Lord, and go back to their own ways.  All that is undeniably true – but based upon what?  Those same scholars claim that the Bible never says they converted, but what else could the Bible possibly say to indicate that they did?  (1) They feared the Lord, (2) they used His covenant name, (3) they offered sacrifices, and (4) they took vows unto His name.  In that ancient culture, while upon that boat, that’s all any Gentile could have done to express his/her faith in the God of Israel.  With all due respect to the scholars who believe otherwise, it seems more likely that the Bible is expressly saying that these men came to faith in the Living God.
  • Incredibly, Jonah’s disobedience was the tool God used to bring a bunch of pagan sailors to faith.  It doesn’t justify Jonah’s rebellion in the slightest, but it’s a wonderful picture of how God can use all things for His glory.
  • The voyage under the sea (1:17 – 2:10)

17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

  • This is the act for which the book of Jonah is known – and it is to this that Jesus points as the sign of His own heavenly ministry.  Jonah was swallowed by this “great fish,” and he was in the fish’s belly “three days and three nights,” exactly as Jesus said that He Himself would be in the heart of the earth. (Mt 12:39-40)  Keep in mind that “three days and three nights” does not necessarily mean a literal 72-hour period; it is an idiom referring to the amount of time that someone would be considered truly dead.  Parts of days & nights could be included within the whole, as was the case for Jesus.  But all in all, the point was just as Jonah was swallowed by figurative death, so was Jesus swallowed by literal death.  And just as Jonah came up again, so did the Lord Jesus.  This is the sign of Jesus’ ministry: the resurrection.  It was Jonah’s disobedience that led him to this point, but it was Jesus’ obedience that led to His own.
  • God “prepared/ordained” a fish for the moment.  What kind of sea creature it was, we do not know.  The Hebrew word used for “fish” could refer to any number of creatures, from fish to eels to sharks to whales.  There is indeed a variety of sperm whale known to inhabit the Mediterranean Sea, which would be more than capable of swallowing a man whole. That said, it doesn’t have to be a whale.  The breed of animal isn’t the point; it’s the fact that God ordained this animal.  God specifically prepared an animal to be used at this time for this purpose.  Whether this animal materialized in the waters at that very moment by the will of God, or whether God had allowed this animal to grow over the course of years and arrive at this specific spot for this specific time – that’s unknown.  What is known is that God willed for this creature to be there, and it was.  God knew what the need would be, and He met it.  Think about that for a moment.  This means that God knew (1) Jonah’s rebellion, (2) the sailor’s predicament, and (3) the sailor’s eventual obedience to hurl Jonah into the waters.  God knew every single aspect of what would take place, and He prepared what was needed accordingly.
    • God is sovereign!  He is sovereign over time, and sovereign over matter.  There is nothing He does not know, and nothing He cannot do.  God knows when we will choose to obey, and when we will choose to run…and in the midst of it all, He still works His will.  God’s will can never be thwarted, even in our screw-ups.  Praise the Lord!  Certainly God desires our obedience, but not even our disobedience can stop God’s will from being done.  We might suffer in the meantime, but God will not.
    • From that perspective, it makes our disobedience rather pointless, doesn’t it?  We are not robots, and God will not mechanically force us to act a certain way.  But God’s way is still going to be done, no matter what.  So why not submit to Him in the first place?  Disobedience only makes our own lives difficult.

Jonah 2
1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.

  • Notice no one had to tell Jonah to pray this time.   It’s amazing what a little change in circumstances can do! 
  • Jonah prayed to “his God.”  Jonah may have been disobedient, but he hadn’t completely given up his faith.  He still knew the Lord, even if he hadn’t obeyed God perfectly.  Thankfully, God still made Himself available to Jonah.
  • Jonah prayed “from the fish’s belly.”  Prayer can take place anywhere at any time.  Prayer doesn’t require perfect words; just a sincere faith in the real God.

2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.

  • Notice the English past tense.  Jonah was still in the fish, and had every confidence that God already heard him.  This sort of faith is reflected throughout Jonah’s psalm.  He’s able to speak about the things God would be doing as if God had already done them.  That’s the sort of faith that God desires from us.  Not that we can somehow “force” God into action; we simply have trusting faith in His character, knowing that God will do what is right according to His word.
  • God heard him from the point of death.  “Sheol” = the grave.  Jonah was not literally dead, but it surely seemed like it.  Imagine it from his point of view: cast overboard, Jonah likely flailed in the sea, sinking into the depth. (Hebrews were not known for their seafaring ability or swimming prowess.)  At some point, the great fish creature swallowed him, and he was likely in & out of consciousness through his journey.  He would have woken up in complete blackness, and it may have taken some time for him to realize that he was still physically alive, and even longer before he figured out where he was.  No doubt, it felt like Sheol to him!  And even from there, God heard him.
    • God hears His children.  Anywhere, and everywhere, He hears us.  That’s part of the grace we have received through Christ!

3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.

  • Jonah confessed that he recognized the work of God in his discipline.  The sailors may have hurled him overboard, but it was God who “cast [him] into the deep.”  The “billows and…waves” belonged to the Lord Almighty.  This was God’s hand of discipline, and Jonah saw it for what it was, in essence, confessing his need to receive it – that God’s actions were righteous.
    • Confession is healthy!  To agree with God about our sin – about His goodness – about His justice – these are good things.  This is what starts the cleansing process in our own hearts, as we confess these things to Jesus, and He works within our lives through His forgiveness. (1 Jn 1:9)

4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

  • Not only did Jonah have faith that God heard him – he also had faith that God would truly deliver him.  Notice the English future tense: “Yet I will look again.”  One day, Jonah would see Jerusalem again with his own eyes.  Of that, he was sure.  That required seeing daylight again, and thus Jonah had faith in his physical deliverance.

5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.

  • For those who doubt the historicity of Jonah, Jonah describes his physical sufferings.  These are not the words of a man who was hallucinating, nor the words of a man using a string of metaphors.  These are consistent (though poetic) descriptions of what it would be like to be taken to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Question: Is this physically possible?  Wouldn’t Jonah have run out of oxygen before three days and nights were up?  How could he survive the change of atmospheric pressure, even while in the fish’s belly?  No doubt, a scenario like this presents an incredibly low possibility of survival.  But all of those questions discount the miraculous power of God.  God had prepared a fish for this very moment, and God is capable of superintending every detail along the way.  To say that this was a miracle is a not a cop-out; it’s a statement of fact!
  • In fact, the description of a God-given miracle is absolutely essential to the whole event, and to what it points.  After all, this is a picture of the resurrection – even according to Jonah’s own words. (“You have brought up my life from the pit…”) If the resurrection isn’t a miracle, nothing is!
    • Our faith is absolutely dependent upon a miracle of God. But it is a miracle that is historically verifiable & accurate.  It takes faith to believe the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, but His resurrection is also a historic fact.

7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.

  • This seems to be Jonah’s point of repentance.  At his worst time, he remembered his covenant-keeping God, and Jonah sought him in faith.
  • There comes a point in our lives when we come to our senses, and seek the Lord.  This was Jonah’s.  What was yours?

8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

  • Jonah’s prayer was to the Lord God, because only the Lord God is God.  Other gods are not gods at all.  They are “worthless idols” – or as it can be alternately translated, “empty vapors.”  They are nothingness.
  • What’s the point in worshipping nothing?  What good does it serve to serve empty, useless, imagined idols?  Only the real God offers real grace.  Only He offers true mercy & loyal lovingkindess.
  • With Jonah again turning to the Lord, he not only offers God his prayers, but also his thanksgiving and future sacrifice.  He has complete faith that he will be raised from this point of near-death.
  • The conclusion? “Salvation is of the LORD.”  Amen!  Every Christian can say this with even more excitement, as the Hebrew word for “salvation” is the Name above all names: Yeshua (יְשׁוּעָה ).  Our salvation – our Jesus – is of/from the Lord.  In Jesus, we have deliverance from death – in Yeshua, we have salvation from sin – in Christ we have all the promises of living forever with our Heavenly Father.  Salvation is of the Lord!

10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

  • Chapter 2 concludes with no small irony: the fish obeys God better than Jonah did.
  • It may have been gross, but it was effective.  Jonah’s life was indeed saved, and he would have the opportunity to pay his vows.  More important than that, however, was the opportunity Jonah would be given to follow through on his original mission.  For the time being, his attitude was changed (though it wouldn’t last) – but he was equipped in a way he would have never before experienced.  He personally experienced the judgment and deliverance of the Lord God.  Now he would be able to preach that news with personal conviction.
    • Far better to obey the Lord than to receive His discipline!  Even so, God can still use His discipline in our lives to make us effective witnesses for the gospel.

Conclusion:
As the book began, Jonah’s attitude stank worse than the fish into which he was placed.  Despite clearly knowing the Lord God – despite receiving a clear calling and command from the Lord God – Jonah ran the opposite direction.  He couldn’t bear the idea of a group that he hated receiving God’s mercies, and he was going to do his best to resist taking that news to them – even if it meant endangering the lives of others around him.  It’s not a flattering picture of a prophet!  He was rebellious, selfish, and apathetic to God & everyone else around him.  Total pagans showed more faith than he did, when Jonah was the one that was supposed to set the example.

That being said, it’s difficult to point too many fingers.  After all, we’ve all been given a clear calling from the Lord to make disciples of all the nations: of the people we know & the people we don’t – of the people we like & the people we fear.  How obedient have we been?  How many times have we walked the other way when the Holy Spirit was clearly urging us onward?  How often have we thought it easier to shut our mouths, rather than take the opportunity to speak up for Christ?  If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re a lot more like Jonah than we care to admit.

The good news is that we can change.  Jonah’s attitude changed; so can ours.  To be sure, Jonah is going to continue to struggle with his attitude through the rest of the book, but the fact that we even have the book is evidence that he finally (fully) surrendered to God.  We don’t have to endure God’s discipline in order to humble ourselves before Him.  We can make that choice ahead of time.  We simply have to do it.

As we do it, remember why we do it.  We don’t obey the Lord God simply because we believe He’s the best choice out of all the other gods out there.  We obey the Lord God because He is the true God.  How do we know?  The sign of the prophet Jonah: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jonah’s act of disobedience points to the ultimate act of Jesus’ obedience & triumph: His crucifixion for our sin & resurrection from the grave.  We tell others of the mercies of God because we have received God’s mercies.  We tell them of His love, because we have experienced the love of Jesus. 

So go forth!  Don’t run from the calling of God; embrace it.  Embrace it just as Jesus embraced it for you.

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