Is there more to be learned from the story of Jonah and the whale than what we are taught in Sunday school as a child?
Jonah disobeyed. Gotten swallowed up by a whale for 3 days. Then obeyed and went to Ninevah. Got it. Lesson learned. Obey God right away. Check.
But what if we really dove into this short book? What if we took it slowly and absorbed all that there really is to learn?
Now before you get all bent out of shape that this is just a children’s story and you’ll just move on to something bigger and better on the internet, bear with me. The Bible tell us in 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
There is something profitable in this story. Nuggets of truth that you’ll miss if you aren’t searching for them. I think this study will give us instruction in righteousness if we apply ourselves to it. I believe God is leading me to this book so I hope you jump in with two feet and join me!
The book of Jonah starts right off by God commanding Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and prophesy against it. We aren’t told much about Jonah, his character, his family or even his occupation. All we know is that God called him. Yet he ran away. Doesn’t sound like a man God would call. Perhaps God wanted to teach Jonah something as he also saved a nation from ruin.
The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. You can read a lot about this empire in many other books of the Bible, for example the story of King Hezekiah in the book of Isaiah. Its a fascinating story. We are told how brutal, cruel, evil and yet very powerful this nation was. Most other nations were afraid of their invasion.
Anyway, back to Jonah. Jonah was well aware of how wicked and scary these people were and there was no way he was going to that land. He hightailed it right out of town!
We are told a few times that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord. This statement amazes me because we cannot run away from God. I know this, you know this, certainly Jonah had to have known this. God’s eyes are everywhere, beholding the evil and good (Prov.15:3). How on earth did Jonah think he could run from the Almighty? How foolish, right?
But if we think about our own lives or of people we know, how many times do we try to hide from God? Honestly. We may not be high tailing it out of town but maybe it’s an unconfessed sin we wont turn away from, that continual bitter attitude towards another person, an addiction, or the suppressing of the Holy Spirits leading in all our decisions.
I’d say, we are all guilty of running away from God.
Maybe God wants us to invite a family over for dinner that we don’t think we’ll jive with so we keep putting it off. Surely God knows we don’t want to be put in an uncomfortable position. So we quietly run from Him by never asking them over.
Maybe God wants us to reach out to that obnoxious bus kid with no manners and disciple them. To take them under our wing and teach them the ways of Christ when the parents are many times unwilling. But God, do you know how that could negatively impact our lives, how much time is needed to invest into a child’s life that isn’t even our own, we begin to reason with God. So we quietly run from Him by never reaching out.
Maybe God wants you to serve in a ministry that doesn’t appeal to you. Surelyyyy, He has the wrong person. Surely, there will be someone else more suitable, we reason with ourselves. So we quietly run away from God by never volunteering.
Maybe it’s the way you treat your husband that God wants you to change. Perhaps, He’s continually convicting you about it but you justify your behavior again and again. He’s a hard man to follow, he doesn’t deserve your smiles or submissive spirit, so you refuse to change. You quietly run away from God feeling justified in your behavior.
We begin to quench the Holy Spirit so much in our lives that we become pew warmers on Sunday morning. We find ourselves unwilling to serve, unwilling to change. We no longer hear God calling us because we’ve hidden ourselves so well from His call.
My friend, we aren’t above Jonah’s actions or reactions. We may not be leaving town but we are still running. Others may not see us running but on the inside, God knows we are hiding from His presence.
Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
Like Jonah, we have a choice.
We have a reaction to God’s call in our lives.
We can run away and quench the Spirit or we can follow after Him. We can be honest with God and tell Him our fears but I trust that He will give you the grace you need to follow Him.
Perhaps God is calling you to make a big leap of faith or a tiny step. I do know that running away from God can lead to some pretty awful circumstances in our lives.
We’ll look at that in chapter two next week!
Your turn! Have you ever found yourself running from God?
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