Jonah and the Great Fish

Jonah

God’s plan has always been for the nations. He promised Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son…

How did Jonah miss that? He had a tremendous response from folks he seemingly couldn’t care less about…first on the ship and then in Nineveh. And the overwhelming response of the folks in Nineveh even makes him angry. He definitely doesn’t share God’s heart on the matter. Remember what I said last week about Joshua and Jericho…had the folks in Jericho repented…had they aligned themselves with Israel like Rahab…God would have shown mercy. Judgment is always the last resort. They too could have been included among God’s people. Jonah reminds us of that.

I think if we are honest with ourselves we can be like Jonah. Maybe for good reason…or so we think. Maybe someone’s hurt us in some way. Maybe they are making bad life choices. I don’t know. We can come up with all kinds of reasons why, but the bottom line is: we don’t think they deserve God’s mercy. We of course do. But they definitely don’t. Oh, we would never say it out loud, or at least not where everyone could hear us. But our action or inaction speaks louder than words. Who are you avoiding/refusing to share your story with? Maybe you think they won’t respond in faith, or maybe you think they will. But how can we expect God to be gracious to us if we won’t share His grace with others?

Two things that are unmistakable in this story…God’s sovereignty over and His love for His creation. He appoints a great wind and a great fish, a plant and a worm and a scorching east wind. He directs His prophet and even uses the prophet’s disobedience to accomplish the salvation of a great number of folks. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of calamity. He loves the lost. He loves us too. And like a good Parent, He pursues us even when we are running from Him.

God’s question to Jonah at the end of the story isn’t answered. “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh?” We all need the LORD’s compassion. Who do you need to share it with this week?

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from the book of Jonah. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Weekend Passage – July 11

Jonah

Jonah 1

Jonah’s Disobedience

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”

15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

 

Jonah 2

Jonah’s Prayer

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,

“I called out of my distress to the Lord,
And He answered me.
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
You heard my voice.
“For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.
“So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight.
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
“Water encompassed me to the point of death.
The great deep engulfed me,
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
“I descended to the roots of the mountains.
The earth with its bars was around me forever,
But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.
“While I was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
“Those who regard vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.”

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

 

Jonah 3

Nineveh Repents

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

 

Jonah 4

Jonah’s Displeasure Rebuked

But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

When the Storms Come

“Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” Acts 27:10

As we read through Chapter 27, I cannot help but think that the Apostle Paul knew something about sailing on the seas and the potential for storms and shipwrecks.

In 2 Corinthians 11:25, Paul writes, “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.”

Paul had to have been one of the more traveled human beings on the planet by the end of his life.

Despite Paul’s warning, the ship sets sail and then runs dead into a severe storm and all those aboard are indeed shipwrecked.

The interesting thing is how God uses the situation to get Paul to where God wants him to go – to the island of Malta.

Paul wants to go to Rome, yet God still has a plan for Paul along the way.

I am mindful that many times on our journey we can see the big picture and yet miss out on the harbors and rest places that God stages along the way.

Other times, God uses storms to get our attention. Storms are a way of life.

I was reading Courson’s New Testament Commentary and was reminded how God uses storms for correction and direction.

Sometimes we face storms for correction, a great example is the story of Jonah.

After being called by God to minster to the people of Ninevah – Israel’s dreaded enemy, Jonah flees in the opposite direction.

God uses a storm and a whale to deliver a message to Jonah and Jonah half-heartedly complies by going to Ninevah to speak to the people.

Sometimes storms come from nowhere, even after a season of blessing.

After preaching a sermon and adding 5,000 to the kingdom, a storm of persecution begins for the followers of Jesus. Scattered across the countryside, the disciples carry the gospel with them, creating and expanding the church.

These type of storms help prune us – help us to mature and grow spiritually.

Here in our text, God uses a storm for direction.  Storms of direction help us to get to where God wants us to go. Paul is heading to Rome but God wants Paul to minister in Malta along the way.

How many times have we been in a situation we did not understand, a time of uncertainty that God used to get us to a specific place at a specific time?

It is only after looking back on it that we see God’s hand, He was there all along.

We may not always understand what God is doing in the midst of the storm, but when the storms come, we need to hold on to our life raft – our hope in His promises and the knowledge that God is in control.

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

 

 

 

Salvation is of the Lord!

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today we turn to the Book of Jonah in our reading.

The story goes something like this – Jonah a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25-27), receives a word from the Lord to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of their wickedness. (Jonah 1:2)

Jonah upon hearing this word from the Lord, jumps up and sets sail – in the opposite direction!

Jonah learns quickly that you cannot flee from the Lord, as Jonah is tossed off the ship, swallowed by a large fish, has an epiphany while in the belly of the fish, realizes his mistake (being in the belly of a fish will do that to you) and cries out – Salvation is of the Lord!

The fish vomits Jonah up on dry land.

Then the word of the Lord is given to Jonah a second time – it sounds much like the first time – “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:1)

Jonah begrudgingly preaches the Word – the city repents, and Jonah ends up upset that the enemy of his people have repented and turned to the Lord.

When we hear or read about the story of Jonah, we immediately think about a man being swallowed by a whale.

Some treat the story as a fable, some as a scientific impossibility, while others limit the story to a children’s book or something taught in children’s Sunday school.

But the story of Jonah is really a story about decay in a believer’s heart, a story of rebellion against God’s calling and subsequent discipline, sovereign grace and mercy.

Jonah was resentful of the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the military capital of Assyria, (modern day Iraq) a people known for its unbounded violence and evil.

Israel had suffered at the hands of Assyria.

Knowing the grace of God as he did, Jonah suspected God’s purposes toward hated Nineveh – He was going to save them!

Jonah did not want Nineveh to be blessed because of what Assyria had done to Israel in the past.

Jonah understood the Lord as his God and Israel’s God – but not the God of Nineveh.

The Bible teaches that God is God of all the earth and all peoples.

We do not want to be like Jonah – seeking grace and salvation for ourselves yet unforgiving in extending grace to others.

How easy it is for us to ask God’s blessing for ourselves, while praying against those who have harmed us – be it a government, or an individual. We go about life with little regard of the souls that surround us every day.

Resentment toward God’s grace is a sure sign of spiritual decline, and reveals a deep ignorance of God’s sovereign grace and mercy.

Like the prophets of old we are to call our 8-15, leaders, nation and peoples of the earth to repentance and be willing to be used as instruments and messengers of God’s grace and mercy through prayer, preaching, and service.

Salvation is of the Lord! Amen!

Until next time…  keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts for this blog were taken from the book: Jonah & Micah by Richard D. Phillips

September 11 – OT Reading

2 Kings 14, Jonah

 

2 Kings 14

Amaziah Reigns over Judah

14 In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Now it came about, as soon as the kingdom was firmly in his hand, that he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the book of the Law of Moses, as the Lord commanded, saying, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.”

He killed of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000 and took Sela by war, and named it Joktheel to this day.

Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us face each other.” Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thorn bush which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ But there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trampled the thorn bush. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall, and Judah with you?”

11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. 12 Judah was defeated by Israel, and they fled each to his tent. 13 Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and tore down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, 400 cubits. 14 He took all the gold and silver and all the utensils which were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.

Jeroboam II Succeeds Jehoash in Israel

15  Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 16 So Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son became king in his place.

Azariah (Uzziah) Succeeds Amaziah in Judah

17 Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 19 They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there. 20 Then they brought him on horses and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. 21 All the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah. 22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah after the king slept with his fathers.

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Zechariah Reigns over Israel

28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did and his might, how he fought and how he recovered for Israel, Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel, and Zechariah his son became king in his place.

 

Jonah 1

Jonah’s Disobedience

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.”13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”

15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

 

Jonah 2

Jonah’s Prayer

2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,

“I called out of my distress to the Lord, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. “For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ “Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head. “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple. “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.”

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

 

Jonah 3

Nineveh Repents

3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)