“But You raised my life from the pit, O LORD my God!” (Jonah 2:6b)
The story of Jonah provides one of the most definitive patterns for the Christian life. Very often we are stuck in the physical account of the story and miss the allegorical value of the wisdom that is given us in the account.
In summary Jonah was told to go to the most powerful nation on earth and tell them that their civilisation was going to collapse if they did not turn back to God. Jonah decided that they deserved to receive the punishment that their own actions had caused and that they didn’t deserve God’s mercy. They should reap what they sow, why should he be concerned about them. Besides if he told them that God was going to punish them and then God saved them instead, he would look foolish. Jonah boarded a ship going in the opposite direction. This did not go well for Jonah and he brought trouble upon everyone that he was traveling with. Eventually, and reluctantly on the part of the Ship Captain, they threw Jonah into the sea. Jonah put himself in God’s hands and at God’s mercy. Jonah was rescued and through this “death” experience he came out of the sea and walked on dry; (Jonah 2:10) and went and did what God had required of him. He preached repentance and the people believed and were saved. True to character this displeased Jonah, and he went and sulked on a hill-top overlooking the city. “I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion—One who relents from sending disaster” says Jonah. (Jonah 4:2b) God then grows a vine over Jonah to provide him with shade, and Jonah is delighted, but the vine is eaten by a worm and Jonah again is very upset. But God says – if you care so much about a vine that sprung up overnight, shouldn’t I care about the people whom I have created and love and want the best for? ( Jonah 4:11)
Are you a Jonah?
Are you more concerned about the temporal things of this life than of the salvation of the world? (Jonah 4:10)
We all have been given this message of reconciliation, we are all called to preach a message of repentance. We all board a ship for Tarshish every time we do our own thing as opposed to what God has called us to. We all face many storms because we are living in disobedience to God, and these storms don’t only affect us, but all around us. We all start throwing things into the sea and coming up with our own plans to save ourselves, but until we address the issues and turn back to God, the storms will rage on.
We must die to self as Jonah did and through that we will be raised to new life in Christ and there live in obedience to God and fulfil God’s purposes for our lives. In pride we head for Tarshish, in humility we must head for Nineveh.
Challenge – in what ways are we failing to preach a message of repentance to the world? In what ways are we putting God to the test and being fatalistic about the plight of the world. Whether it be COVID 19 or Global Warming or the Capitalist Economy that is destroying our world, we need to repent from just heading off for Tarshish, and by our lives we need to bring reform to this world, we need to bring truth and apply the Kingdom principals of compassion, ‘earth care,’ fairness, justice, circular economy, and end to greed, an end to prejudice of the poor, the list goes on. In short, you need to preach a message of repentance through how you live “simply” compassionately and with Kingdom values.
You need to build an Ark and be part of God’s plan for eth salvation of the world.
Let us pray
(based on Jonah 2)
“In our distress we call to you LORD, answered us. For You cast us into the deep, into the heart of the seas, The waters have engulfed us to take our life; But You have raised our life from the pit, O LORD my God! Those who cling to worthless idols forsake your loving mercy But we, with the voice of thanksgiving, will make our sacrifice to You. Empower us by your Spirit oh Lord to fulfil our vow of allegiance to you, for. Salvation is from the LORD!” Amen