When you hear the name ‘Jonah’ from the bible what do you think?
You think of the children’s story, “Jonah and the whale” – right?
Jonah’s story is one of my favorite stories in the bible because it makes me think of me.
Not in a good way though :(
I am hard-headed sometimes. Sometimes I want to do things MY way and not HIS way. And too often I hold grudges.
1 The Lord spoke his word to Jonah son of Amittai:2 "Get up, go to the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it, because I see the evil things they do."
“Because I see the evil things they do” – this shows God’s mercy! God warns us all of our sinful ways because if we continue in our sin, it will lead to our destruction.
3 But Jonah got up to run away from the Lord by going to Tarshish. He went to the city of Joppa, where he found a ship that was going to the city of Tarshish. Jonah paid for the trip and went aboard, planning to go to Tarshish to run away from the Lord.
Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh, he didn’t want God to show mercy to his enemies. So he fled away when God told him to go to warn them.
Do we ever wish God would “get ‘em” when it comes to our enemies? Would we go to our enemies & warn them of their wrong ways so that they had the chance to change & turn to God?
So Jonah ‘ran away’ from the Lord.
Being in the presence of the Lord is a wonderful thing to one who loves Him, but it is a terrible burden to be in His presence for one who is either an enemy of the Lord or not ‘right’ with Him.
Anyway, here Jonah paid the fare to get away from the presence of the Lord, but it was going to cost him his life.
4 But the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, which made the sea so stormy that the ship was in danger of breaking apart.5 The sailors were afraid, and each man cried to his own god. They began throwing the cargo from the ship into the sea to make the ship lighter.
But Jonah had gone down far inside the ship to lie down, and he fell fast asleep.6 The captain of the ship came and said, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray to your god! Maybe your god will pay attention to us, and we won't die!"
7 Then the men said to each other, "Let's throw lots to see who caused these troubles to happen to us."
When they threw lots, the lot showed that the trouble had happened because of Jonah.
The lot told them the name of the person who had caused these troubles, but not why.
8 Then they said to him, "Tell us, who caused our trouble? What is your job? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?"
9 Then Jonah said to them, "I am a Hebrew. I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."
10 The men were very afraid, and they asked Jonah, "What terrible thing did you do?" (They knew he was running away from the Lord because he had told them.)
11 Since the wind and the waves of the sea were becoming much stronger, they said to him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"
12 Jonah said to them, "Pick me up, and throw me into the sea, and then it will calm down. I know it is my fault that this great storm has come on you."
13 Instead, the men tried to row the ship back to the land, but they could not, because the sea was becoming more stormy.
14 So the men cried to the Lord, "Lord, please don't let us die because of this man's life; please don't think we are guilty of killing an innocent person. Lord, you have caused all this to happen; you wanted it this way."15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea became calm.16 Then they began to fear the Lord very much; they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made promises to him.
17 The Lord caused a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
So Jonah confessed his sins, came back to consecration and obedience and…
10 Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and the fish threw up Jonah onto the dry land.
Then Jonah had a second chance to warn the people of Nineveh of their evil ways.
1 The Lord spoke his word to Jonah again and said,2 "Get up, go to the great city Nineveh, and preach to it what I tell you to say."
3 So Jonah obeyed the Lord and got up and went to Nineveh. It was a very large city; just to walk across it took a person three days.4 After Jonah had entered the city and walked for one day, he preached to the people, saying, "After forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed!"
5 The people of Nineveh believed God. They announced that they would fast for a while, and they put on rough cloth to show their sadness. All the people in the city did this, from the most important to the least important.
6 When the king of Nineveh heard this news, he got up from his throne, took off his robe, and covered himself with rough cloth and sat in ashes to show how upset he was.
7 He sent this announcement through Nineveh:
By command of the king and his important men: No person or animal, herd or flock, will be allowed to taste anything. Do not let them eat food or drink water. 8 But every person and animal should be covered with rough cloth, and people should cry loudly to God. Everyone must turn away from evil living and stop doing harm all the time.9 Who knows? Maybe God will change his mind. Maybe he will stop being angry, and then we will not die.
10 When God saw what the people did, that they stopped doing evil, he changed his mind and did not do what he had warned. He did not punish them.
This is what Jonah feared would happen. They repented & turned from their evil ways and God had mercy on them. God spared the 120,000 of Ninevah’s people & Jonah became angry.
Are we ever like Jonah? Have we ever heard of an evil person turning from their ways, turning to God… but we are not happy for them. We want them ‘destroyed’, and not shown God’s mercy.
Jonah went on to show his anger.
1 But this made Jonah very unhappy, and he became angry.2 He prayed to the Lord, "When I was still in my own country this is what I said would happen, and that is why I quickly ran away to Tarshish. I knew that you are a God who is kind and shows mercy. You don't become angry quickly, and you have great love. I knew you would choose not to cause harm.3 So now I ask you, Lord, please kill me. It is better for me to die than to live."
Jonah became sooo angry at the salvation of 120,000 people that he prayed to die!
4 Then the Lord said, "Do you think it is right for you to be angry?"
5 Jonah went out and sat down east of the city. There he made a shelter for himself and sat in the shade, waiting to see what would happen to the city.
Jonah was still hoping God would destroy them! As he waited… and waited he became more angry.
6 The Lord made a plant grow quickly up over Jonah, which gave him shade and helped him to be more comfortable. Jonah was very pleased to have the plant.7 But the next day when the sun rose, God sent a worm to attack the plant so that it died.
8 As the sun rose higher in the sky, God sent a very hot east wind to blow, and the sun became so hot on Jonah's head that he became very weak and wished he were dead. He said, "It is better for me to die than to live."
God came to him one last time and explained that he had no good reason to be so angry:
9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you think it is right for you to be angry about the plant?"
Jonah answered, "It is right for me to be angry! I am so angry I could die!"
10 And the Lord said, "You are so concerned for that plant even though you did nothing to make it grow. It appeared one day, and the next day it died. 11 Then shouldn't I show concern for the great city Nineveh, which has more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know right from wrong, and many animals, too?"
We do not know how long Jonah stayed angry. We do not know the end to this story.
But we can learn from it.
We need to learn to be merciful and patient with people… mainly our enemies.
We need to do God’s work without being forced to do it.
We also need to appreciate life without living in anger & holding grudges. (ah-hem… DANIELLE!)
I am a ‘grudge holder’.
When I am angry it is very hard for me to ‘get over it’.
Well let me re-phrase that: If someone wronged me – and doesn’t care – then I am horrible at holding grudges.
This is one area I realllllly need to work on.
I am a grudge holder.
I really need prayer in this area people!!
THIS is why I LOVE the story of Jonah.
It truly speaks to ME!