Pastor's Blog

The story of Jonah is perhaps among the most famous of the Old Testament stories. It ranks right up there with David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions den, and Noah and the ark. Jonah was one of God’s prophets during the reign of Jeroboam II in Israel, which means it was between 793 and 753 B.C. There is historical evidence that Jonah was able to preach a lot of “happy” sermons in Israel. During those years the 10 northern tribes of Israel enjoyed a time when their borders were expanded to nearly the same as they were in the glory days of David and Solomon. Jonah was able to prophesy times of blessing (see 2 Kings 14:23-25) even though Jeroboam was not a righteous man. It was because God loved his people and had a desire to see them thrive and prosper — God had a desire to see them continue to exist. So it appears Jonah was able to foretell some of the victories that they were going to enjoy.

BUT, one day God speaks a clear word to Jonah that he did not want to hear. Jonah go to the capital of Assyria – the city of Nineveh and preach against it. . . . go tell them that I have seen their wickedness and brutality and I am going to put an end to it! Being the patriotic man that he was, you would think that Jonah would have been happy to make the month long trip – it was 550 miles from Samaria to Nineveh - to preach the judgment of God on a nation that had been a perpetual enemy to Israel! Jonah’s response??? – he went to the port, bought a ticket to a place called Tarshish – a port in Spain about 2500 miles away – in the exact opposite direction that the Lord had told him to go.

Jonah 1:3 makes an interesting statement . . . “Jonah ran away from the Lord . . .” That was his plan – if I just get away from the presence of the Lord I will be able to ignore this call to Nineveh. In our enlightened knowledge of God we are quick to say, “Jonah you can’t run from God! Don’t you know that he is everywhere?” Yet, how often we do the same thing! We know what God wants us to do and we chose not to do it – for various reasons, and with all kinds of rationalizations. Jonah ran away from the Lord.

By the end of chapter one, Jonah is thrown off the boat in the midst of great wind storm because he realizes that God has a hand in this storm . . . and the last verse of chapter one says, “But the Lord

provided a great fish to swallow Jonah,” . . . One may try to run from the Lord, but there is no where to hide!

In chapter 2 Jonah rethinks his decision to run from God – he repents and promises to fulfill the Lord’s command to go to Nineveh – he is vomited onto dry land – goes to Nineveh and preaches that you have 40 days then God is going to wipe you out because of your wickedness. Jonah so hoped that word would come to pass. He didn’t really have any love for these people and what they stood for . . . he wanted to see them judged for the crimes they had already committed against other nations – Jonah wanted them to be wiped out so his own country would never have to deal with these people again. (Perhaps he had an inclination that it was going to be this very nation that would swoop down on Israel and wipe them out some 30 to 40 years later.)

Chapter 3 ends with the city of Nineveh repenting of their sins. There is a great spiritual awakening that totally pleases God.

Chapter 4 opens with Jonah angry with God. He says, “Lord, this is the reason I tried to run away in the first place. I knew it was going to happen like this

Jonah 4:2 . . . I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

One of the men that I read in regards to this story of Jonah pointed out the fact that Jonah had great theology. He preached the pure word of God – he understood the word of God. Jonah declared truth when he spoke of the compassion of God – and of God’s nature to forgive people and give them another chance. Jonah knew that he had to preach right doctrine. What Jonah didn’t get was the fact that God wanted him not only to preach right doctrine – he wanted Jonah to live right doctrine. . . . he wanted Jonah to be filled with grace and compassion. . . God wanted Jonah and the Jewish people to be as concerned about the lives of people in other nations as He is . . .

God’s desire for you and me today is that we would be like Him! That our thoughts and actions would be a reflection of who He is and how he thinks. God is at work in all the circumstances of our lives to help that transformation come to pass. (See Romans 8:28-29!) There is a chorus that we sing from time to time in worship services that ought to be on our minds as we read the Word of God each and every day . . .

Change my heart, Oh God

Make it ever true

Change my heart, Oh God

May I be like You!

Suggested Readings To Read Through The Bible In A Year

Saturday      June 19, 2010   Jonah & Ecclesiastes 6

Sunday        June 20, 2010   Philemon & Ecclesiastes 7:1-14

Monday       June 21, 2010   2 Kings 1-2 & Ecclesiastes 7:15-29

Tuesday      June 22, 2010   2 Kings 3-4 & Ecclesiastes 8

Wednesday June 23, 2010   2 Kings 5-6 & Ecclesiastes 9

Thursday     June 24, 2010   2 Kings 7-8 & Ecclesiastes 10


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