Read: Jonah 1:1-17, 3:1-10
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because their evil has come up before me.” Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord ’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence. But the Lord threw a great wind onto the sea, and such a great storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart. The sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god. They threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the load. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down to the lowest part of the vessel and had stretched out and fallen into a deep sleep. The captain approached him and said, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up! Call to your god. Maybe this god will consider us, and we won’t perish.” “Come on!” the sailors said to each other. “Let’s cast lots. Then we’ll know who is to blame for this trouble we’re in.” So they cast lots, and the lot singled out Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us who is to blame for this trouble we’re in. What is your business, and where are you from? What is your country, and what people are you from?” He answered them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship the Lord, the God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were seized by a great fear and said to him, “What is this you’ve done?” The men knew he was fleeing from the Lord ’s presence because he had told them. So they said to him, “What should we do to you so that the sea will calm down for us?” For the sea was getting worse and worse. He answered them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea so that it will calm down for you, for I know that I’m to blame for this great storm that is against you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they couldn’t because the sea was raging against them more and more. So they called out to the Lord: “Please, Lord, don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood! For you, Lord, have done just as you pleased.” Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. The men were seized by great fear of the Lord , and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command. Now Nineveh was an extremely great city, a three-day walk. Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!” Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth — from the greatest of them to the least. When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he issued a decree in Nineveh: By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish. God saw their actions — that they had turned from their evil ways — so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.
None of us can relate to being swallowed by a fish, but all of us can relate to running from what God has called us to do. Although stepping out of our comfort zones and obeying God can take a great deal of courage and strength upfront, look at the miracle we are choosing to miss out on if we say no! When Jonah finally went to Nineveh and warned them of God’s imminent judgment, the entire city repented and was saved. Scholars say that there could have been 150,000 people saved simply because Jonah finally obeyed!
“The Lord…is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) God was patient with Jonah and He was patient with the Ninevites. Because of Jesus, we don’t have to face the wrath that our sin deserves. How comforting that God isn’t waiting with lightning bolts to strike us down when we mess up! Instead, He gently calls us to learn from our mistakes and turn toward Him!
God, give me the courage to go and tell others about what you did through Jesus on the cross. Although I may want to run and avoid awkwardness at all costs, you are already softening people’s hearts to hear and receive your grace. Help me to obey you right away!
Bake and bring cookies to your neighbors. Use the opportunity to bless them and invite them to church.