This week I’m going to start a study on the book of Jonah, and how we can be like Jonah if we’re not careful. For a number of people if asked about their thoughts on the book of Jonah, they will say he was a man who was swallowed by a big fish and spat out again. Yet there are numerous plots, twists and turns which we can miss if we’re not careful.
In Chapter 1 we read how God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh to give them a warning, that unless they changed their lifestyles God was going to punish them. Jonah though didn’t want to warn the Ninevites as he was aware of the prophecies that the Assyrian empire would be a threat to his homeland, so if God wiped them out that would be one less threat. For further reading on this topic try Nahum and Zephaniah whose prophecies were not viewed positively by the Israelites.
In Chapter 1 we are introduced to the sailors who would have had varying beliefs, gods and would have been experienced sailors so when they were fearful for their lives this storm would have been a major event. When they discover that Jonah was a Hebrew and was running away from his God they became afraid. In the Old Testament to ‘fear’ God would have resulted in actions and not just ‘feeling fearful’ which why see them making offerings and vows. I wonder if this happened today would the sailors be afraid? in today’s society there is an apathy towards religion in general so anyone saying this storm is because of my disobedience to God what would the responses be; keep your religion to yourself….
In verses 15 & 16 “15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” [ESV] we see how through Jonah’s disobedient actions the Lord used this situation to show his love and mercy to the sailors who responded as it appears they became believers. Not that I would recommend disobeying God.
Thinking back on our lives have we decided not to obey God because it would have been too much hard work, risky, time consuming, doing something outside of our comfort zone? If we were given a second chance would we obey God this time if not why?
All Bible verse links and quotes have been taken from http://www.biblegateway.com