We all know the story of Jonah and the whale! My late father-in-law loved to tell about teasing his sister with the serious question, “Do you really believe the Bible story that Jonah swallowed the whale?”. She would quickly respond, “Well, yes, of course, don’t you?”. He would laugh and say, “No! But I believe the whale swallowed Jonah!” Maybe you needed to hear him tell it, but it always made us laugh.
I’ve been thinking of the story of Jonah and what got him into trouble in the first place. I know the history of Assyria attacking and conquering Israel in the book of 2 Kings. Nineveh was perhaps the largest city of the ancient world, and the capital city of Assyria. When Jonah entered the picture; Assyria’s military strength was not threatening and Israel was enjoying a time of prosperity and peace! Yet, they had once again forgotten they were God’s chosen people!
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:1-3
Jonah was not called to be a prophet to his people, Israel. God called Jonah to be a prophet to the Gentiles; and the Assyrians at that! Jonah hated the Assyrians. He still remembered the cruelty they had done to the people of Israel. Now Tarshish was to the West and Nineveh was East, so Jonah was heading in the opposite direction. We see that Jonah was running away from his assignment; but he was also running away from God. The book of Jonah is a good example of human rebellion and God’s response to that kind of rebellion.
You know the story. God sent a storm; the ship was in danger of being destroyed; the men in the ship throw Jonah overboard to save themselves.
“ Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me.” Jonah 1:17 – 2:2
God’s desire is for everyone to be saved! When Jonah finally reaches Nineveh, the people repented and were spared God’s judgment! That’s what is called grace! The people of Nineveh were sinners who were totally lost without God’s grace. Yet, so was Jonah! In the book of Jonah, God acts to restore His disobedient prophet. We don’t read anything else about Jonah after this book. And even though, Nineveh repented; the city was completely destroyed years later. Read Zephaniah 2:13
(Note: “If we do not believe that God could and did prepare a giant fish to discipline a prophet, then we will have trouble believing that a dead man named Jesus of Nazareth came back to life. Do not forget – it is the three days of Jonah in the belly of a great fish that Jesus used to predict His own resurrection after three days in the grave (Matthew 12:39-40, 16:4; 1 Cor. 15:5)” The Jeremiah Study Bible page 1199.)
Here is a question! IF God hears our cry as a nation and allows us a new President that will work to restore our country back to being a God-fearing, God-honoring nation that our founding fathers had in mind when they set up the Constitution; will we remember? or will we forget, too? THINK ABOUT THAT!