Jonah

grey-heron-139979_640Jonah 1:1: Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

Have you met Jonah? The four-chapter book with his name on it contains lessons having to do with his interaction with the word of God.

Chapter one: a rebelling Jonah

God’s word came to Jonah, sending him to Nineveh to speak against their sin. But he had a different agenda. He did not think God was right to send him to Nineveh who were not his best kinds of people, to say the least. He allowed how he felt, his sentiment, to interfere with carrying out God’s assignment. He did not align himself with the will of God, jumping into a ship going to Tarshish, probably a more exiting city than Nineveh.

We are called to align with God. Even Jesus had to align with God. In the Garden of Gethsemane, as he was struggling to fulfil the assignment of dying for the sin of the world as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), he said: “if possible, let this cup pass over me, but not my will but yours be done (Luke 22:42).” That is a prayer of alignment. And the way of divine alignment is the only way.

But Jonah thought he was wiser, he wanted to make a getaway from God. He was saying, “Let my will not yours be done.” And with dire consequences.

He went in a different direction to the will of God and fell into the ocean of death. Death is the result of kicking against the will of God, because with God is life, and to stand against him is death, as Adam and Eve found out (Genesis 2:16-17).

When Jonah refused to deliver the words of God which is the bread of life, he became bread for some deep sea animal. It is either we submit to the word of God or we become swallowed up by Satan. There is no middle road. There is no demilitarized zone. Jonah wanted to have his way but he soon realised that at the end the will of God get done, and when you resist him you are only harming yourself. He could not eat his cake and have it. He could not resist God, and not have his life become hard.

He spent three days in the mouth of a fish and Jesus would later declared that in a similar way his death and resurrection will be a sign to the whole world (Matthew 12:40), as he will spend three days in the belly of the earth as Jonah was in the belly of the fish. So even his headiness worked for good in the overall plan of God. Head or tail, God wins.

Chapter two: a repenting Jonah

Jonah is in the mouth of the beast, in a dire situation, called upon God in repentance. It would have been better for him to do the will of God without going through the pain of rejecting it before accepting it. He was a sad man for disregarding the word of God. The bible says that there is the way that seemed right to a man but the end is destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Instead of spending time to do the will of God, he spend time in the belly of a fish repenting for being so heady. The choice is ours. At the end God told the fish to vomit him on the shore, giving him a second chance for him to respond rightly to him. He is the God is a second chance.

Chapter three: a serving Jonah

In this chapter God sent Jonah to Nineveh again, that forty days and Nineveh will be overran by its enemy. That was a message of judgment but that it was communicated at all was an expression of God’s mercy as the outcome showed. The nation responded to the words of Jonah and the threatened evil was averted.

Chapter four:  a sulking Jonah

The chapter is a reflection of a man who was a spokesperson of God, but did not share his heart. Jonah was angry that the plant that shielded him from the sun dried up suddenly, but he was also angry that God cared enough for the people of Nineveh to have mercy on them. He was selfish and could not connect with the magnanimity of God.

Jonah is an example of a man who worked for God but not with God, manifesting the word but not the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Jonah’s character was not right enough. He gave the message but he was miserable afterwards. He was disconnected from the joy of the Lord because he was full of his own agenda.

He not only rejected the will of God but also the way of God. God is merciful, Jonah knew that but he did not like that about God.

He did not have God’s perspective. He delivered God’s word but did not share God’s heart. He did the task, but did not connect with the heart of the master, he therefore missed out on the refreshing joy of the Lord, becoming depressed, burned out and ready to die.

The way to avoid burn out is to share God’s heart of love and not just his work, pay more focus on relationship with him than on the task.

Summary

In chapter one, God gave Jonah an instruction, but he ran away from fulfilling it and landed inside a large fish. In chapter two, he spoke to God in repentance and God spoke to the fish to vomit him on the shore.

In chapter three, he spoke the word of God to the people of Nineveh and they repented from their evil way and God did not fulfil his word of judgment on them which he had declared through Jonah.  And in the fourth chapter Jonah expressed his anger against God for not unleashing his anger on Nineveh, and God spoke to him a third time to correct his perception of his justice.

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