From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry… When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
Written by: Marshall King
All of us can recall times growing up when we did something wrong. Instead of admitting, we hid, lied, or blamed someone else. Our behavior was not something we had to learn; it was our sin nature lived out through our flesh. I remember my parents telling me to be honest and admit when I did something wrong, rather than to hide from it or to lie about it. There would be consequences in either case, but the consequences of lying or hiding were much worse than telling the truth and owning my mistake. Who can relate?
God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness in hopes that the people would repent of their sin against God, and He would show compassion and mercy on them and forgive them. Jonah knew God would be merciful if they repented and that angered Jonah. Instead of obeying God, Jonah went to Tarsus—in the opposite direction of Nineveh.
Jonah was not only running from God’s directions; he was also running from God’s presence. Jonah suffered the consequence of his disobedience, nearly drowning in the sea. But God sent a great fish to swallow him up and save him from death. God was not done with Jonah.
Hebrews 12:5-11 teaches that God never disciplines His children out of anger, but instead He disciplines us out of His great love for us and to ultimately accomplish His plans for His glory.
Later, Jonah prayed to God and confessed his sin. God listened to Jonah and forgave him—giving him a second chance to go to Nineveh and do what He had asked him to do.
Jonah obeyed and preached the message God asked him to and the people of Nineveh listened and repented of their evil and wicked ways. God had compassion and showed His mercy to the people of Nineveh instead of destroying the entire city as He had threatened to do before Jonah went and preached to them. What a great lesson in obedience.
Thought of the day: When we run from God, we can miss out on His blessings. We can never escape His love. The story of Jonah is a powerful lesson of compassion, purpose, and obedience. Are you currently running from God or attempting to hide your sin from Him? What is keeping you from trusting Him and doing what He is asking you to do? God is not angry with you. He is patiently waiting for you to humble yourself and surrender your will to Him. He wants to bless you, but not until you obey Him and trust Him with your entire life. Do you trust Him to lead you? What is keeping you from trusting and obeying God?
Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally as I am, not as I should be. Thank You for being patient with me and disciplining me for my good out of Your great love for me. Help me to be merciful and to love others unconditionally as You love me and show mercy to me on a daily basis. Amen.