Jonah 1-4, Psalm 129
Jonah is an interesting book and along with the first 11 chapters of Genesis is scrutinized by skeptics as being impossible and therefore historically inaccurate. The problem is skeptics trust too much in their own intelligence and put limits around God’s abilities. Paul said in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” For any Christian who finds this story difficult to believe, realize Jesus refers to it as historically accurate at least a couple of times in the Gospels when indicating the sign He would give the Pharisees (Matthew 12:38-41,16:4). This book is so much more than a wayward prophet being swallowed by a big fish and surviving.
In fairness to this wayward and reluctant prophet we have to realize just how evil the people of Nineveh (Assyrians) were. These, the original terrorists would display the dead bodies of their victims, would stack up up the heads of their victims in pyramids in front of conquered cities, would even make furniture out of human flesh. So when Jonah was given his commission to preach to this group we can understand why he chose to go in the opposite direction. But we see God’s heart for these people in Jonah 4:11, “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than 120,000 persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left-and much livestock?” It’s amazing that Jonah and we do the same thing. We are nothing but for the grace and mercy of Him. Yet how often do we limit the grace and mercy that others deserve. We have all been given the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. We should all ask ourselves, are their certain individuals or groups of people that we in essence run the other way from because we either don’t believe they deserve or don’t want them to receive God’s mercy and grace.
We also get a powerful picture of prayer in this short book. Sort of amazing that it took Jonah 3 days inside the fish’s belly before he called out to God in prayer. But all along God was working behind the scene directing the fish to the proper destination in anticipation of Jonah’s prayer. We also see the prayer of the Ninevites in Jonah 3:8 which God answered. Though God already knows what we are going to do and what He is going to do before we pray, the interaction between this and how God relents and/or answers prayer can sometimes be difficult to comprehend. When we concentrate on issues like this, I just remind myself that I don’t have to fully understand all things since His ways are so much more than mine. God doesn’t need us, but loves us and chooses to use us if we are willing. Sometimes it is more important to be obedient to God’s direction, and in time, if God desires He will enable us to comprehend more and more. So, when we step out in prayer we should be confident as we pour out our heart that we have a God who truly hears us.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: