High on the Word: Jonah 1 & 2

High on the Word

Jonah 1 & 2 (NIV)

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah
son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city
of Nineveh and preach against it, because
its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord
and headed for Tarshish. He went down
to Joppa, where he found a ship bound
for that port. After paying the fare, he went
aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from
the Lord.

4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the
sea, and such a violent storm arose that the
ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors
were afraid and each cried out to his
own god. And they threw the cargo into
the sea to lighten the ship… [continue reading here]

I’ve read the story of Jonah many times before and although there is, undoubtedly, much wisdom to be gained from this passage, in my mind, it had been reduced to a caricature of a man being swallowed by a big fish, for the sake of quick reference. It’s not until now that God has opened my eyes to a more personal understanding of this passage. As I was reading this passage this week, I was reminded of a time in my life that I’m not so proud of, back in my younger years. I had chosen to stray away from God’s path and follow my own will and desires. It was clear that I was going down a path of destruction that would have led me far away from God.

Out of His unconditional love, God intervened. Just as God brought on a mighty storm to make it impossible for Jonah to run away from God, He put me in a condition where it was impossible for me to continue on my chosen path. He literally plucked me out of my situation. And believe me, it wasn’t an easy change of course. There was much pain, introspection and repentance on my part and much restoring on God’s part. I am reminded of Proverbs 3 and specifically v. 12 where it says that “the Lord disciplines those he loves.” While he was inside the great fish, Jonah was stripped of his pride and will, and reminded once again of God’s mercy, grace and sovereignty. When Jonah ran away, he was not only disobeying God but he was missing out on the amazing privilege to be part of God’s awesome plan. He recognizes this when he says in v. 8, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Even though Jonah obeyed reluctantly, he became an effective instrument thru which God brought the repentance of the Ninevites. Although I’m sure I was somewhat reluctant and even confused at the time, I am so thankful to God that He forced me out of my situation. Besides avoiding a major disaster in my life, I felt that God had given me a new lease on life. When I came out of the depths of my own “grave,” my outlook on life completely changed. I was on fire for God and thankful for every minute of my life, truly appreciating many of the things that I had taken for granted before. I had the privilege to serve Him in many ways and felt closer to Him than ever before. God’s mercy saves us from deserved punishment but His grace lifts us to a place that is beyond our expectations. His words in Proverbs 3:5-6 come to mind once again, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

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3 thoughts on “High on the Word: Jonah 1 & 2

  1. We just read Jonah again in out community group at church, Re-reading can always bring such new understanding! Thanks for sharing part of your story with us. I was also similarly swallowed by a “whale” and I’m so glad I was.

  2. Love how you explain it. Inspite of sending the storm to destroyed Jonah, God sent the storm to save him from astray and got him back on the track of His plan for Jonah’s life.

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