Jonah Gets Wet
JUNE 14 - Nº 165 [Jonah 1 – 2]
Syria (also known as Aram) had always been a menace to the northern kingdom of Israel. God had helped King Jehoash weaken Syria’s power and regain many of Israel’s cities from King Ben-Hadad of Syria (see #160 - Two More Ungodly Kings In Israel). However the Israelites were now facing an even bigger threat. Another nation by the name of Assyria was expanding its empire in the northeast. They were known to be ruthless, evil warriors who loved to torture their enemies. It wasn’t long before Assyria engulfed Syria and stood at the border ready to conquer Israel too! It was during this time, when Assyria was gaining great power and causing widespread fear, that God decided to send a prophet from northern Israel to one of Assyria’s wealthiest cities to let them know that He was angry with them. “Leave right now,” God commanded Jonah, “and go to Nineveh. Tell them that I am going to judge them because of their wickedness.” Jonah did not want to have anything to do with this assignment for a couple of reasons: first, it was quite possible that they would torture and kill him; second, he knew that God was a merciful and compassionate God and would forgive the people of Nineveh if they repented. He wanted nothing to do with either scenario. So instead of going to Nineveh, he fled in the opposite direction. Jonah arrived in a seaport town called Joppa, boarded a boat, and headed to Tarshish—about 2000 miles west across the Mediterranean Sea. He wanted to get as far away from Nineveh as he possibly could. But once the ship sailed, God sent a violent storm. As the storm grew worse, the sailors became terrified! They cried out to their gods and began throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load. While all this was going on, Jonah was fast asleep below the deck. The captain found him and woke him up. “How can you sleep?” he yelled. “We’re about to die! At least get up and pray to your God!” The sailors weren’t sure what was causing the storm, but they figured someone must have sinned and angered the gods. They cast lots to see who it could be. Sure enough, the lot landed on Jonah! Jonah knew he had sinned. He explained that he was supposed to be serving the one true God of heaven, but instead he had disobeyed. He told them they should throw him into the sea to stop the storm. But they didn’t want to. They were afraid this might anger his God even more. But soon things became so bad they realized it was their only hope. They picked Jonah up and threw him overboard. Immediately the raging sea grew calm! The sailors began to worship Jonah’s God. They were amazed by His power. They made vows to serve only Him. But God had a large fish waiting for Jonah. As he plunged deep into the ocean, the fish swallowed him whole. Jonah stayed in its stomach for three days. From inside the fish, he prayed to God. He knew that God had sent the fish for a reason. He knew that he had sinned when he had run away from God. He vowed to praise and honor God for the rest of his life. Then God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry ground.
Is there someone in your life who has done hurtful things, yet you know God wants you to share His love with them? Don’t run away! Your willingness to be nice might surprise them enough to cause them to turn around and look at Jesus.