JONAH – A STORY OF SECOND CHANCES
We have all read the story of Jonah and have taught it to our children. We were taught that Jonah did not obey God and he got on a big ship. God sends a big storm because Jonah was running away from Him and the other men threw Jonah into the sea so the storm would stop. While Jonah was in the water a big fish swam up and swallowed him for three days. Jonah prayed and prayed and the fish spit Jonah on land. Then Jonah went to Nineveh to preach. This story in God’s Word is much more than a story of a man and a great fish.
The PG-13 version, God had given Jonah a purpose, to preach to the great Assyrian city of Nineveh. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, about 500 miles northeast of Israel, to warn of judgment and to declare that the people could receive mercy and forgiveness if they repented. Assyria, a great but evil empire, was Israel’s most dreaded enemy. It would be like God telling us to walk into an ISIS camp and tell them to repent and ask for forgiveness and God would grant them mercy. I totally understand why Jonah ran in the opposite direction.
What I learned from this book, although the prophet Jonah tried to run away from God, God was in control. By controlling the stormy seas and a great fish, God displayed his absolute, yet loving guidance. When I say no to God, this quickly leads to disaster. Saying yes brings new understanding of God and his purpose in my life.
The main lesson for me in this story, God’s message of love and forgiveness is not for just a certain group of people. God loves each of us, even when we fail him. God has great love, patience and forgiveness for all people. This story tells us no one is beyond redemption. Salvation is for all who repent and believe. We should all pray for those who seem to be the farthest from the kingdom, and look for ways to tell them about God. We are to obey God, doing whatever He asks and going wherever He leads.