Jonah was sent by God to warn the people of Nineveh that God was going to judge them. However, Jonah chose to flee in the opposite direction because the people of Nineveh (also called Assyrians) were cruel and wicked. Jonah boarded a ship to Tarshish and then encountered a great storm.
During the storm, the sailors prayed to their unknown gods, but the storm wouldn’t stop. However, Jonah who worshipped the living God was found sleeping. Jonah asked the sailors to throw him into the sea because he was the cause of the storm. The sailors reluctantly agreed to Jonah's request and a great fish prepared by God swallowed up Jonah. While in the belly of the Fish, Jonah prayed to God and the fish released him on the third day. He came to the land of the Nineveh and pronounced God's judgment upon them.
The people of Nineveh repented as a result of Jonah’s sermon and God spared the city. Afterward, Jonah was very upset because God showed mercy and spared such a wicked city. The Story is full of stereotyped characters who ironically do the exact opposite of what you think they would do;
Jonah, the man of God who rebels against his own God, the sailors who were supposed to be really immoral but actually repented and turned to God in humility while the king of the most powerful murderous empire humbled himself before God because of Jonah’s sermon.
The book of Jonah is not a fictional but a real story as Jesus Himself Quoted the book of Jonah.
What can we learn from the book of Jonah?
We are called for a purpose
Jonah was called to do a Job. He was sent by God to the City of Nineveh to preach a message of repentance. “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
In the same manner, we are also being called by God to make disciples. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the mandate to go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). Preaching the Gospel is the most important work on the face of the planet. It is the great commission God has given each and every one of us
I hope that you are doing your part and not running like Jonah.
Just like Jonah, we have got the perfect excuse why we are not doing what God wants us to do. Instead of giving excuse, I want to encourage us to pray for the grace to do his will at all times.
God is always in control
In the story of Jonah, we see how God controlled the weather, wind, the fish, the plant, the worm, and a whole lot more. God is sovereign over all things and that allows Him to control everything. Whatever you are experiencing right now, you can always turn to God knowing that he is always in control of all situations.
Sometimes we try to take control instead of allowing God to help us.
As Jonah turned to God and prayed in the belly of the fish, we must always remember to turn to God as he is always there to help us in our time of need. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1-3).
God is merciful - so you must show mercy as well
God’s mercy is unexplainable. No matter what we have done in the past, as long as we repent of our sins and turn to Him, God will indeed forgive us.Nineveh was considered to be a wicked city. Their ways were against God and their hearts were evil. Yet, they were given a chance to repent.
After hearing the message of Jonah, “the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5). As a result, God “saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).
Jonah understood how merciful and loving God is as he proclaimed;
“For I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness one who relents from doing harm.” (Jonah 4:2). Also, if we are merciful, we will also obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).
When people hurt and offend us, we must forgive.
When you see people needing your help, be merciful and lend a hand.
When you see people are having a hard day, be merciful and don’t add to their burden. When people are hungry or thirsty, be merciful and give them food and a drink. These are just some of the ways we can be merciful as our Father in heaven.
God works on our characters
God chose Jonah not because he is the perfect person for the job, but because God wants to correct the character flaw of Jonah.
God could easily have used someone else, but He insisted to use Jonah. God knows that Jonah had a lot of growing to do.
Though Jonah doesn’t want to go to Nineveh, God used various situations to bring Jonah into a realisation of his problem – a problem that he probably didn’t know existed.
Is there anything God needs to work on in your life? Talk to Him about it. He is your father.
We can compare the story of Jonah with the story of our saviour Jesus Christ. A bit similar but Jesus wasn’t selfish like Jonah.
Jonah spent three days inside the belly of a great fish because of his own sinfulness and rebellion. Jesus also spent three days inside the belly of the earth but for our sin and rebellion.
Jonah ran from the calling God gave Him (Jonah 1:3). Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father’s will, coming to earth and dying on the cross.
Jonah became angry with God for showing grace toward repentant sinners (Jonah 4:2). Jesus modelled God’s grace toward repentant sinners (Romans 3:24).
Jonah was angry and wanted the sinners to die in their sins (Jonah 4:3). Jesus was compassionate enough to die for sinners so that we could be saved (Romans 5:10).