Tuesday, 20 December 2022
The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” -Jonah 1:1
The Book of Jonah is an account of the call of Jonah - a prophet from Gath-hepher near Nazareth (2 Kings 14:25), to preach repentance to Nineveh and his initial reluctance and God’s intervention. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria was infamous for its cruelty. Prophets Hosea and Amos, had been declaring Assyria as an instrument of punishment from God (Hosea 11:5; Amos 5:27). Israelites would have longed for Assyria’s destruction. This coupled with the knowledge of God’s mercy (Jonah 4:2) and a sense of spiritual superiority must have produced an negative attitude in Jonah toward God’s request for carrying His message to them. He soon learnt about God’s love and mercy to all His creatures (Jonah 4:2,10,11), not just His covenant people.
In today’s reading we see:
I. The consequence of Jonah’s disobedience on him and those around him
· The ship he was in was hit by a storm sent by God (V. 4). Instead of being a blessing to them he became the cause of their distress.
· They had to throw overboard their cargo (V.5); incurs loss through no fault of their own.
· They had to throw Jonah overboard (V.15) which meant they had to go against their principles.
· Brought fear into the hearts of men (V.10) instead of the peace of God.
· Jonah ended up in the belly of the fish (V.17); a loss of hope.
But when he recognized his error and committed himself into the hands of God, the result of this submission made even the gentiles offer sacrifices and vows to the living God (V.16).
II. The sovereign rule of God over man and all creation.
· Everything came into being through Him (V.9) and responds to His every command (V. 4, 17).
· All mankind is accountable to God: These ancient people who aren’t part of the Mosaic covenant were still accountable to heaven’s moral law.
· Faithfulness of God to His covenant: Jonah is a picture of Israel, who was chosen and commissioned by God to be His witness (Isaiah 43:10–12), who rebelled against His will (Ezekiel 6:1–5) but who has been miraculously preserved by God through centuries of exile and dispersion to finally preach His truth (Revelations 7:1–8).
· No partiality with God: Though God was primarily working through the Hebrew nation as an instrument for the sending of the promised Seed (Genesis 22:18), nevertheless, his compassion for all the people of the earth is manifested in His sending Jonah to Nineveh. God desires that no one should perish (2 Peter 3:9)—so He made a new and better covenant as given in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Let us not respond to God in our everyday life like Jonah did. When the Holy Spirit speaks to us, we should not run away from His voice by turning a deaf ear to His prompting. Be warned that when one is trying to run away from God, one will be amazed how often “a ship” is right there, ready at hand. When we do that we make God keep us in the belly of the fish through delayed obedience. Let us not be like Jonah who was reluctant to walk in the works prepared by God. Instead let us accept that “…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath beforehand prepared, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Thought for the Day: “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” C.S. Lewis