Jonah was a prophet to northern Israel, their enemies were the gentile nation of Assyria ‘Nineveh’ the great city and Jonah was given the unusual instruction from the Lord to preach to that city calling them to repentance. Here we see one of the first displays of God’s desire to see all nations saved and how He would do so through Israel!
We don’t know how Jonah received this word from God, whether it was verbal, in a dream or vision, writing on a wall or through another prophet, but Jonah didn’t respond with words, he just ran. Rebelled against God’s command.
Down is never good when God is up! Notice that verse 3-4 says that Jonah went ‘down’ to Tarshish and ‘down’ to Joppa (which means beautiful- its actually our modern day Tel Aviv). Eventually he ended up down in the belly of a whale, which Jonah himself describes as ‘sheol’ which is another name for hell.
Are you desensitized to the product of your disobedience? While the storm is going on Jonah was sleeping (Jonah 1:5). I imagine this is like sleeping during turbulence on a plane. What this shows is Jonah’s ignorance and desensitization to his disobedience. A trap many of us fall into! We sleep when we need to wake up and change. OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE!! OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN ENDING UP IN A WHALE! 1 SAMUEL 15:22
Don’t deny God in the midst of your storm. In verse 9 we read Jonah’s first words, he states his identity and who he believes in, even in the midst of the storm… what can we learn from that? Even in our mess, don’t deny the God that you serve. For this is the one reason why in verse 16 we see that these men who served other gods now feared the Lord God Almighty and made sacrifices & vows unto Him. Without Jonah’s declaration, they wouldn’t have known.
Jonah took responsibility for his disobedience (Jonah 1:12). In psychology there is something we call ‘Diffusion of Responsibility’ where everybody shares in the blame or the glory of a situation. There was none of that there because Jonah stepped forward and said cast me out for the sea to calm down. Very noble, as I know some would have liked to have company in that big whale and therefore drag people down in their plight.
Copyright 2007 Fellowship for the Performing Arts