Jonah and the Big Fish
The last two stories have involved God using animals to reach man with His message. Whether or not Paul was actually riding an animal when the Lord caught his attention is debatable. But God used a donkey to speak to a hired prophet.
Today we are going to look at the story of a man who ran from God and fell into a big fish.
Why did Jonah run away after God told him to go to Ninevah?
Was he scared?
Jonah was a prophet!! Prophets are not scared to speak the truth no matter what the consequences. His ministry is mentioned in II Kings 14:25. Jeroboam II was ruling in Israel and was evil in the sight of the Lord. Jonah prophesied that Jeroboam would restore much of Israel to the coast. According to scholar John MacArthur, there is unverifiable Jewish tradition that says Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath whom Elijah raised from the dead. If this is true, Jonah probably was not afraid of a lot.
Why the rebellion?
To understand why Jonah thought he had good reason to rebel against God we need to know a little about Ninevah. The Ninevites were a cruel, cruel people. Ninevah was known for flaying people and hanging their skin on the city’s walls. They were long time enemies of Israel.
Jonah knew God! He knew God’s heart for the lost! He knew the people would repent and they would be an example to Israel of how far they were away from God and totally in need of repentance themselves.
Jonah in his heart knew God would forgive and save these awfully cruel people! Where was the justice of God? The God that he served should know how bad these people were!
It’s not fair!!!!!!!!!!
Do we ever hear that said today? We want God to be the judge of others not ourselves! We want a God of love and mercy for us and be a hammer-slammer for those we don’t think are as worthy as we are.
This must have been a terrible realization for Jonah. The God he had served and to whom he had been faithful in carrying His message to the people was now going to send him to his enemies to give them a message of hope and salvation. On top of that Jonah knew they would repent and become children of God just like him.
No, Jonah wanted to run away! Far Far Away!
Now one of the fascinating points I gained from this story is how God stops speaking to Jonah and allows him to get on a ship. Jonah was free to follow his own path; Jonah was letting his disappointment and anger with God skew his thinking. He knew God would be wherever he went. But in that moment, he put that out of his mind!
Do we ever do that??? Ever put God on mute?
Let’s travel away a moment to Romans 1:18-20. In these verses, Paul tells about how all of creation tells of God’s invisible attributes. The entire creation tells of “his eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse.” (KJV). In Luke at the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “I tell you if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40 (KJV)
I want us to see today that God speaks to Jonah in creation. When Jonah will not listen to his voice, God gets his attention with all of creation at his beck and call.
- 1:4 — God sends a great wind and storm at sea
- 1:17–God sends a great fish to swallow Jonah
- 2:10–God speaks to the fish to vomit him just where he wanted him
- 4:6 — God prepares a gourd to grow for shade
- 4:7 — God prepared a worm to devour the shade
- 4:8 – God send another “vehement” wind and a hot sun to kill the gourd.
Twice God speaks to Jonah and asks, “Is that anger helping you?”
Do we ever think, “I have a really good reason to be angry?”
In Hebrews 3:15, we read, “As it is said, Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
If you listen, you can hear God speak. I have not heard him in an audible voice, but I know when I hear him in my heart. God speaks to his children everyday and sometimes he has to speak through nature’s call. I believe Jonah got the message; but the book of Jonah does not say how he responded. It leaves it to us to answer the call. Will we go to those who are not like us? Will we take Christ’s message to the city where we live? Will we be bold enough to reach out wherever God sends us?
By Freda Reynolds