Jonah Gets Wet
JUNE 14 - Nº 165 Jonah 1 – 2
Syria (also known as Aram) had always been a menace to the 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 - June 9). 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 while 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. His assignment was to let them know that God 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 Assyria for a couple of reasons. First, he knew it was quite possible that they would torture and kill him. And second, he knew that God was a merciful and compassionate God, therefore He would forgive the people of Nineveh if they decided to repent. Jonah didn’t want to be a participant in 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—a city about 2000 miles west across the Mediterranean Sea. He wanted to get as far away from Nineveh as possible. But once the ship set sail, 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 needed to throw him into the sea to stop the storm, however they were afraid this might anger his God even more. Soon things grew so bad that 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 no other God but Him. What no one knew was that God had a large fish waiting for Jonah. As he plunged deep into the ocean, the fish swallowed him whole. Jonah stayed alive in its stomach for three days. From inside the fish, he prayed. 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 out on dry ground.
Is there someone in your life who has done hurtful things to you, 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. (It might even cause them to look at you differently, too.)