Another Look At Jonah

A while ago I came up with this monologue to try and explain Jonah.  This time I thought I’d take a more serious look at him.  So, let’s start at the beginning.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Jonah 1:1-2 NIV

This guy did not want to be a prophet at all.   Israel and Nineveh (The capital of Assyria) did not get along.  What did it matter to Jonah if God was upset with them.  Maybe he would take them out, and then Jonah and his family would not have to live in fear.  These are humanly reasonable excuses, but God had other plans.  Later in the chapter, God sends a storm.  Jonah fesses up to the fishermen that God is angry with him, and tells them to throw him into the sea. They do this, and the storm stops.  The story doesn’t end there.  God was going to accomplish what He wanted through Jonah whether Jonah wanted Him to do that or not.

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17 NIV

Jonah is left with nothing to do but pray to the Lord and repent.  God lead the fish where it would go and the fish obeyed, unlike Jonah.

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah 2:10 NIV

God says, fish does.  There are no problems here.  If only humans were as cooperative.  Jonah has been given a second chance to do what God called him to do in the first place.  God could have easily let him die, but He chose mercy instead.  Jonah 3:1 says the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…and Jonah obeyed!   He wouldn’t want anything worse to happen to him.  He goes to Nineveh all excited to preach against them.  God was going to give the people of Nineveh what they deserved…or so he thought.

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah 3:3-10  NIV

Jonah had found a good spot outside to watch the action he thought he would see.  The Lord even provided a plant for Jonah that Jonah didn’t have to care for.  Free shade, no effort.  Once Jonah realized he wasn’t going to get to see massive levels of destruction of Nineveh, and on top of that, God took away his plant that he was using for shade,  Jonah became miffed at the Lord.

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Jonah 4:10 NIV

God gave Jonah loads of second chances when he flat out didn’t deserve them.  He does the same for us too when we act in similar ways all the time.  Why all the second chances though?

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Phillippians 1:6 NIV


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