1. Lessons From Jonah's Journey
It is time to start another Daily Devotion theme and after four weeks of Sunday School on the book of Jonah, I feel led to follow the Old Testament prophet on his journey. Andrew Little and Michael Key brought out some interesting information as they taught these lessons, and I learned some things that might be good lessons for us. I pray that God will use these devotionals on "Jonah's Journey" to help us on our own Christian journey.
2. A Child-like Faith
Several years ago my co-worker's son was in a terrible car wreck that left him with numerous injuries and he woke from a coma with amnesia. She often described how hard it was for him to not remember who he was, or his family, and all the simple things we learned during our childhood that we take for granted. She told us that after church one Sunday her son asked her if she believed the story the preacher had told about Daniel in the den of lions. He had been brought up in church, but he no longer remembered any of the Bible stories he learned as a child. I have often heard preachers talk about a "child-like faith" and I believe we need this as we look at the book of Jonah. I was raised in a Christian home and learned the Bible stories as a child, and believed them, and I still believe them today. So, I believe the book of Jonah is real, just as I believe the amazing stories about Daniel in the lions' den, and the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and that God created the heaven and earth in six days. Paul complimented young Timothy, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (II Timothy 3:15-16) The scriptures in the little book of Jonah are not just a tall tale or fishing story exaggeration, but they are just as true as John 3:16. I know that we can profit from this inspired story from the Word of God if we believe and trust God with a child-like faith.
3. The Beginning Of Jonah's Journey
To begin our study of Jonah, I want to look back to the beginning of his journey. We find the first reference of the prophet in II Kings 14:25.
"23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher."
In these verses we find the time period which Jonah lived; during the reign of Jeroboam the son of Joash the king of Israel. Jonah was the son of Amittai and he was from Gathhepher. We also find that he was a prophet of the Lord God of Israel. If you were to write your autobiography, you could begin with the same information. Your life's journey began at a certain time, in a certain place, to certain parents. Whether we are happy with our beginning, or not, these are all segments of our lives that we don't choose. I once heard it put this way, "We can't choose our place, our face, or our race, but we can choose God's grace." Jonah was a prophet. And because his prophecy had come true, he was proven to be a prophet of God. God had chosen Jonah to deliver His message, as we see in Jonah 1:1-2, "Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." To borrow a little word from the book of Ruth, I would describe all we see about Jonah this far as his "hap", the part of his life chosen out by God. Tomorrow we will see that Jonah decides to make his own choice and turn away from God, the beginning of a long treacherous journey.
4. We Can't Hide From God
I can remember talking about this Bible story when my children were small, and even our three year old said, "You can't hide from God!" Well, that is just what Jonah tried to do. God told him to go to Nineveh and preach, and Jonah went in the opposite direction to hide from God.
"1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." (Jonah 1:1-3)
Have you ever tried to hide from God? Maybe while sitting in a waiting room and you feel a nudge from the Lord to talk to the person sitting next to you about Jesus and you don't know what to say. You pick up a magazine and hide behind the pages while you wait for the right words, and then the person is called away. It could be that God has reminded you to witness to your neighbors and you see them in the yard, but you hide behind your closed windows and doors. We know that we really can't hide from God, but I am afraid that doesn't keep us from turning away from His will. The neighboring lands of Israel all had their own false gods and idols. I wonder if Jonah thought that God was God in Israel and if he went to another land God would not know where to find him. We talk right and dress right while we are at church, but do we think that our looks and actions don't matter when we are away from the house of the Lord? We might choose to turn away from God's will, but we can't hide from God. "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:24)
5. Jonah's Downward Disaster
From time to time I will have nightmares that I am going downhill in a car, and the brakes don't work. I press my foot with all the pressure I can and I just keep going faster and faster, out of control. I waken in a cold sweat and realize that those dreams come when I am overcome with situations in my life that are out of my control. It could be a big event that is coming for which I am not prepared, and time is slipping away. I am always glad to wake up from those dreams, but the pressure that caused the stress is all too real. We are looking today at Jonah as he went down, and the situation got totally out of his control.
"3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not." (Jonah 1:3-6)
God told Jonah to go preach to Nineveh, which was in a north-east direction. But Jonah went down to Joppa, a south-west direction. In verse 3 Jonah "went down to Joppa" and "down" into the ship. In verse 6 he went "down into the sides of the ship" and went to sleep. Christians often think that if they are out of God's will they will not be able to sleep, but Jonah was definitely out of God's will and he was able to sleep during a terrible storm that rocked the boat to and fro. The mariners tried to lighten the ship but finally cast Jonah overboard and he went down into the sea. He was swallowed by a great fish and after three days he called out to God in prayer.
"3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God." (Jonah 2:3-6)
Jonah went down as far as he could go. Sometimes when we turn away from God, he will let us go, until we come to the end of our rope and call on Him to lift us up. The Psalmist cried, "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD." (Psalm 130:1) Is your life speeding in a downward disaster? Have you looked from side to side and found no answers? It is time to look up. Cry out to God and He can lift you out of the miry clay. Isn't it wonderful that we don't have to wait until we hit rock-bottom to look up! We can pray to God anytime, and any place.
6. Sin Will Cost You!
I hope you don't think we are moving too slow through the book of Jonah. Because we are actually going back to Jonah 1:3 again today. "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." I want to focus on the little phrase in the middle of the verse, "so he paid the fare thereof". Our lesson today is, "Sin Will Cost You!" Jonah paid to get on a ship that was going as far away as he could possibly go, so I think it was probably a great expense. He paid a price to sin against God. I keep reading things on the internet that talk about karma. Someone does something wrong and the heading states that karma takes care of it. Why don't people just admit that when you sin, you pay the price? The Apostle Paul put it very well in Galatians 6:7-8. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." We also see the final payment because of sin in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I have often heard it said that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. And that is so true. Sin will cost you!
7. Nineveh, That Great City
When we think of something as being "great" we see it as a good thing. Like, "That was a great ballgame!" or "What a great meal!" There are several "great" things in the book of Jonah, and they are not all good. First I want us to look at the great wind and the great tempest. Now, I have been in some bad storms while driving in the car, when the rain fell so heavy I could not see, and the wind blew the car so that it was hard to steer. But I am thankful that I have never been in such storms while out at sea. "But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken... And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." (Jonah 1:4 & 12) This was not an ordinary storm. God sent this storm! Next, we see that God also sent a "great fish". "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17) In Matthew 12:40 Jesus calls this a whale. It was great and extraordinary, that God sent it to swallow Jonah, where he stayed in the belly three days and nights.
Now we see the "great city" of Nineveh. When God described Nineveh to Jonah, He saw it as being a city of great wickedness. "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." (Jonah 1:2) "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." (Jonah 3:2) Nineveh was also a great city because of its size. "So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey." (Jonah 3:3) These are all "great" things found in the book of Jonah. But the greatest of all is found in the fourth chapter.
"And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." (Jonah 4:2)
"And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:11)
The greatest thing found in the book of Jonah is not the great storm, or the great fish. It is not even the great city of Nineveh. It is God's great kindness and mercy. In His great love, He sent Jonah to preach to the wicked city, and when they turned to Him in repentance, He forgave them in His great love and mercy. And that is just what God did for me. When I asked Him to save me, He saved me and forgave me, not out of goodness I had done, but through His great love and merciful kindness. What a great God we serve!
8. Our Disobedience To God Affects Others
When I was younger there was an attitude that basically said, "I'm doing my own thing and I'm not hurting anybody." I can't remember just how the quote went, but it was just the attitude that people wanted to be left alone, and not corrected, so they could live their own lives in their own way. This is the wrong attitude to have because each of our lives touch the lives of others. The Apostle Paul said, "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." (Romans 14:7) When Jonah decided to get on the ship and run from God he did not know the effect it would have on the sailors in the ship with him. The men on the ship realized that this was no ordinary storm and they understood that their lives were in jeopardy because of Jonah. The things we do influence the lives of many. In fact, the way we live can still have an influence even after we have died. In Genesis 12 Abram lied and said that Sarai was his sister, hiding the fact that she was his wife, and God plagued the house of Pharaoh. Isaac followed in the footsteps of his father and lied saying that Rebecca was his sister instead of saying she was his wife. Our children follow in our footsteps and the sins we commit often affect how they will live. Our disobedience can bring hardship and even death to others. In the seventh chapter of Joshua we see that Achan sinned against God and the Israelites lost the battle and 37 men lost their lives. And when David sinned with Bathsheba he had Joab arrange the battle so that Uriah would be killed. We read in II Samuel 11 that Uriah was not the only Israelite killed in that battle from the poor strategy. Our witness and Christian testimony have a positive effect on others, but our disobedience to God affects others in a bad way.
"4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.
12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
14 Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.
15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging." (Jonah 1:4-15)
9. Jonah Prayed
Chapter 1. Verse 17. "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
Chapter 2. Verse 1. "Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly," There are some commentators that believe Jonah died and rose again, because Jesus used him as a sign of His death and resurrection. (Matthew 12:40) One author I read stated that Jonah would have prayed immediately and would not have waited three days to pray. I disagree with his explanation. I believe Jonah was a stubborn man and he did not want to go and preach to the Ninevites, even if it cost him his life. Look at Jonah 4:3, "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." Whether he died in the belly of the fish, or lived there for three days, either way it is a great miracle from God.
Look at Jonah 2:4, "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple." Remember how Jonah tried to flee from the presence of the Lord? Now, he feels like he has been lost from the presence of the Lord and he is ready to pray towards the temple (as King Solomon had prayed in the dedication, "What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, ..." I Kings 8:38-39)
Jonah may have known the Psalms because his prayer begins and ends much like Psalm 116.
Jonah 2:2 - "And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
Psalms 116:1 - "I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow."
Jonah 2:9 - "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD."
Psalm 116:13 - "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.
17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD."
Jonah has come to the place where he can't help himself, and he cries out to God, "Salvation is of the LORD." Have you come to that place?
10. "Salvation Is Of The Lord"
Many people in the world today ridicule Christians because we believe that there is only one way to heaven. Christians are said to be intolerant of other religions and narrow minded. I once heard a very popular talk show host say that it didn't matter what you believed, as long as you had faith in what you believed. She is wrong. Jonah ended his prayer, "Salvation is of the LORD." There is no other way of salvation. We find this message repeated in the New Testament. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) For those who may be searching for the truth, I want to tell you about God's salvation. I often show it as simple as A, B, C. "A" is for Admit that you are lost and there is no other way to be saved. Jonah came to this point and cried out to the Lord God. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) "B" is for Believe. This goes beyond believing in your head that Jesus was a good prophet. It is believing in your heart that Jesus, God's only begotten Son, came from heaven as a baby and lived a life without sin, so that He could pay the penalty for our sin on the cross. He was buried and rose again the third day, overcoming death, hell and the grave. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) "C" is for Confess. This little word means more than just saying, "I am sorry I got caught and I need a way of escape." Confess means to be sorry for your sin and willing to turn away from sin and serve the Lord. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) Salvation is of the Lord! If you have never received God's gift of salvation, I hope you will believe and ask the Lord to save you today. We are not promised tomorrow. The Lord is coming back to receive His children unto Himself, and it could be today! Are you ready?
11. Second Chances
Let's review Jonah's journey thus far: God told Jonah to go preach to Nineveh, and instead Jonah went in the opposite direction to Joppa, a seaport. There he got on a ship to go even farther away from the path God had laid out for him. During the mighty tempest he was cast into the sea and we left him in the first chapter inside a great fish. "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17) In chapter 2 he prayed to God and the fish sent Jonah back to dry land. As chapter 3 begins, we see that Jonah got a second chance to obey God. "And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD..." (Jonah 3:1-2) I am thankful for second chances, and third chances, and fourth, and so on. Oh, how many times I have failed and God has forgiven me again and again. But, we don't always get second chances. Remember how Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock? Although he sought it from God, he did not get a second chance and did not get to go into the land of Canaan.
I am reminded of the story of Len Bias. In the 1986 NBA draft Len Bias was selected by the Boston Celtics as the second overall pick, on June 17. Just two days later, on June 19, he used some cocaine and died from cardiac arrhythmia. I am not really into sports, but I remember this story because his friends and family all said that he had never used drugs, and that was his first time. He didn't get a second chance. If someone drives while drinking and kills someone else, he does not get a second chance to make it right. It was great for the city of Nineveh that God gave Jonah a second chance. But we need to do what's right the first time, because we may not get a second chance to make it right. Yesterday we talked about salvation. If you have never asked God to save you, please do so today. You may not get another chance. In Acts 26:28 we read, "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." The scriptures are silent as to whether Agrippa ever decided to be saved. How sad it would be to come so close to heaven, and turn it away, never to get another chance!
12. God Is God For The Gentiles Too!
When Jonah got his second chance, he went to Nineveh and preached as God commanded, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Jonah 3:4)
"5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" (Jonah 3:5-9)
Jonah preached God's message and the whole city, from the king to the lowly pauper, repented in sackcloth and ashes. God saw that they turned away from their sin and God did not destroy the city. We often read in the Bible that God was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But in this little book of Jonah we see that God is also the God of the Gentiles. We can be thankful that God saves "whosoever will". Anyone can be saved by calling on Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. I am so glad that Jesus saves all who call on Him. Without Him, I would be lost.
13. God Prepared
Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh, and all the people turned to God. Imagine what it would be like today if a missionary went to another country and preached and everyone there turned to God. The missionary would rejoice in the Lord, and teach the people more from God's Word. Well, Jonah was angry when the people of Nineveh were forgiven. Nineveh was an enemy of Israel and Jonah would rather see them overthrown, than forgiven.
"1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:1-3)
In the first chapter God prepared a great fish to get Jonah to the place He wanted him to be. Now in chapter 4 God prepares three more things to get Jonah's heart where it should be.
"6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. " (Jonah 4:6-8)
God used this to show Jonah that as he had pity on the gourd, the Lord God had pity on the city of Nineveh. "Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:10-11)
I want to close with some encouraging verses of what God has prepared for us!
"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-4)
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (I Corinthians 2:9)
"2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:2-4)
14. Begin And End With God's Word
We are almost ready to close on our devotions from the book of Jonah. Today we see that the book of Jonah begins with the Word of God. "Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying," (Jonah 1:1) It is also interesting that the book closes with the Word of the Lord. "Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:10-11) My thoughts today are simple. We would do well to begin our day talking with our Lord. And we would do well to end our day with the Lord. We can apply this to other areas of our lives. What about decisions? It will help us to talk with the Lord when a decision comes up, and follow through in prayer and meditation as we make the decision. What about problems? Do we wait until the problem is so overwhelming we can't find our way out, before we pray? Do we think our problems or lives are too insignificant for God to hear us? God cares for us and we can seek His help in the beginning and continue with Him until the problem is solved. Reading God's Word and prayer would help us in every area of our lives, whether it is finding the right marriage partner, or working our way through college. One way to remember to keep God first in your life is to begin the day with God, and end the day with God. When we do this, we are more likely to walk with the Lord all during the day.
15. God's Question
We have come to the end of Jonah's journey. Thank you for following along with us. If we had not had the last chapter, we would think Jonah to be the greatest missionary preacher in all history, for all of the city turned to God. But we see his wrongful attitude come through when God forgives the Ninevites. If we were writing our stories we might omit some of the bad parts and present our lives in a better light. But God records the bad along with the good, so that we might learn from the experiences of others. The book of Jonah ends with a question, "Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:10-11) When God asks questions in the Bible, it is to make us see the answer. The first recorded question of God we see in the Bible is found in Genesis 3:9, "And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" God knew where Adam was. Adam and Eve could not hide from God any more than Jonah could. God was giving them a chance to come to Him and confess their sin. As the book of Jonah closes, God is making Jonah think about the pity He had on the lost people of Nineveh. I am so glad that God took pity on the lost people in this world and made a way of salvation. There is only one other book in the Bible that ends with a question. Do you know what book it is? It is the book of Nahum. About 150 years after Nineveh turned to God, they sank back down, deep into sin and Nahum was the prophet who preached of their destruction. The book of Jonah ends with God's pity and forgiveness for the Assyrian city, but the book of Nahum ends with their demise. "There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" (Nahum 3:19) God called to Adam, "Where art thou?" and He is still calling out to lost sinners today. In Jonah's day the people turned to God and found forgiveness. In Nahum's day judgment fell in a bitter way. I close with these questions. Has God called out to you? Have you turned to Him and found forgiveness in His love and mercy? Or have you turned away from God thus facing the final judgment?