Jonah and the whale

What do you do when a new ink pen that doesnít write? Most people discard the pen and look for one that will work. We have the story of Jonah and the whale to tell us what God does with those who will not do as he asks. Jonah was asked to go to a people that he didnít approve of and preach a message from God. Instead Jonah got on a ship to going in another direction.

After he set sail, the ship he was in sailed into winds of hurricane strength that was about to tear the ship apart. After finding that Jonah was the cause for their peril, the shipís crew threw Jonah over the side. Jonah had to understand that his life was in Godís hand from that point on. This one event makes you want to believe that Jonah was desperately asking God to save him from drowning.

God sent a whale to the rescue. Not exactly the kind of rescue that I would want, but it would save my life as long as I wasnít his dinner. On the other hand Jonah had to be thinking, Iíve been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire. But that was just the beginning of his problems, as now he felt like a ping bong ball. The whale decided there were places to go and things to do and off to the races he went. Jonah was being tossed back and forth up and down, crashing into the walls and hitting the roof of this whales stomach. If he isnít sea sick, heís pretty close to it for he knew there was more sickening stuff to come.

It stunk, he was being stirred around in the rest of the not so nice stuff in the whaleís stomach, Jonah was being blended and stirred around in this mixture as if he were the main course that was being preparing for dinner. He may have felt like a side dish at smorgasbord being mixed in with other delicacies whales love to eat. All Jonah could hope and pray for was for the whale to vomit. What he didnít know was that he was just as sickening to the whale as the whale was to him? Fortunately for Jonah he was unaware that God ordered the whale to voluntarily empty his stomach.

Jonah was greatly relieved when the whale vomited him near the shoreline, but this gave Jonah the opportunity to wash the smelly stuff off his clothes. Even though he washed his clothing in salt water the smell remained. Jonah was shaken up but the experience strengthened a desire to go to Nineveh and preach the message of God.  

After an attitude adjustment like that you wonít wonder if God knows the right buttons to push to get you moving in the direction of his will. God spoke assertively to Jonah a second time ďgo to Nineveh and give them my message!Ē I canít imagine Jonah planning another way to avoid doing something he didnít want to do. If Jonah was at the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea he faced a journey of at least 400 miles on foot to get to Nineveh.

With the stench of the whale still in the air around him, Jonah took the first step towards Nineveh and then another. The bible doesnít tell us how long it took but it must have taken enough time to give Jonah plenty of time to do some serious thinking. He probably wasnít thinking about how to present the message but more on the events and reasons why he refused to take his message to Nineveh in the first place. Those reasons hadnít changed, but they were reasons he was compelled to rethink.

However Jonah reluctantly complied with Godís command. His memory of the whale was still fresh in his mind as Jonah went began to preach Godís message. Jonah was stunned as something amazing happened before his eyes. The people believed God because God was known to carry out his decrees. When the king of Nineveh heard the message he declare a city wide emergency demanding that every man and beast repent in sackcloth and ashes.   God was pleased how Nineveh responded and was even more pleased that he would not have to pass judgment on more than a hundred and twenty thousand men and women. Men and women that God loved as much as he does you and me.

The story ends with an angry Jonah sitting to the east of the city waiting to see if God would destroy Nineveh.  God knew Jonahís desires before he sent him with the simple message of repent or perish. On the other hand, Jonah knew that God would not bring the disaster on Nineveh if they repented.

It only goes to show you that God may ask you to do something you donít want to do. Jonah was sent to save the lives of men he preferred were on the other side of the grass. Still when all was said and done a hundred and twenty thousand lives were spared and God was able to show his love and grace. Serving God doesnít mean that we always have our way.  What it does mean is that God is exalted and we are his humble servants.

God is only God if we obey him. When we donít obey the God of creation we make the person we obey our god.  We donít want to mention any names but our god usually belongs to that selfish, self-centered person we become. We want our way like the unruly brat that wants to control everyone elseís life. God has established himself above all other authority including that unruly person in your body. We donít always remember that we will give an account of everything we have done.

On Judgment day the people of the earth will be in Godís court and be judged according to his laws. His laws are not completely unknown to man for they are embedded within our spirit. God will judge what you have done in your past, being particularly interested in whether you accepted his authority. Those who run from God, who avoid God, use his name in an irreverent manner, whose actions tell God that they donít want Jesus Christ as king will regret that their wishes will be granted.  There is a saying in the church community be careful of what you ask God for, because God will give you more than what you ask for. Iím not the only Christian that has had a number of attitude adjustments during their lifetime and have learned to respect our Fathers wishes.

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