Been reading through Jonah this week and all I have to say on this matter is WOW! How God speaks though this amazing book and how much love as He got for His people.
Right at the very beginning of the book, Jonah is called by God to do a specific role in the conversion of the Ninevehites – BIG call – BIG job.
Straight away this got me thinking ‘how does God call us today?’ I believe that God still calls His people to various tasks all included in His great overall plan. It’s what we do when we get called that can have amazing and incredible results.
We can be called through reading the Bible or listening to a message or even through an ordinary conversation with anybody, God can call and convict us to do His bidding. I remember all so vividly how God called me to ask forgiveness of a person who I thought had definitely wronged me not the other way round. I DIDN’T want to do it!! – NO way!!! I was the one wronged!!
But fortunately that conviction from God was absolutely right and I was the one who was blessed by it all in the long run.
Are you listening to God when He speaks? Before God will convict us we need to be in a position where we are ready to hear Him – that means drawing close to Him, spending time with Him and actually being prepared to do what He asks us to do even if that request could shock us even traumatise us.
Jonah heard distinctly what God wanted him to do. Now whether this was God speaking directly to him or whether it was such a strong conviction that Jonah had no doubt whatsoever that God wanted him to go Nineveh we will probably never know but regardless of the actualities, Jonah had no intention of going there. Nineveh was one of THE most ruthless places in the known world at that time.
Unfortunately nothing much has changed. Today the ancient land of Nineveh is located in Northern Iraq and is today’s MOSUL which sadly and tragically is under direct control of Islamic State.
The whole site of ancient Nineveh was hidden for some time after it had been eventually destroyed as God said it would be in Nahum 3:11. It was not until 1842 that archaeologists rediscovered its location in modern day Iraq.
I could just imagine how scary that command of the Lord would be ~ imagine for a second if today any of us were called to go to the same place with the same message. It just may give us the tiniest idea of what Jonah was asked to do ~ no wonder he took off at speed.
If we are indeed walking with God, then his call to us will not cease just because we have decided it is too hard and too dangerous ~ we won’t be able to run away ~ we won’t be able to hide either.
Jonah decided to get away as far as possible in the opposite direction to Nineveh ~ he chose Tarshish in Spain way across the Mediterranean Sea ~ about the extent of the known world ~ you just couldn’t go any further.
Just as Jonah was determined NOT to go to Nineveh ~ God was determined that he should ~ God’s plans for us, if we are truly His, will not be thwarted no matter where we run and or what we do or who we talk to. We can try to ignore God, but that still small voice will keep reminding us that we are HIS and there is no turning back, not ever.
As you know, Jonah boarded the boat to take him to Tarshish ~ and I can imagine him hiding in the cargo hold in a dark corner ~ and can you blame him? He must have been terrified ~ as we have discovered Ninevah was a bad, wild and wicked city. It was a city of violence, known for its brutal treatment of those it conquered. The Assyrians were notorious for child sacrifice, amputating hands and feet, gouging eyes, and impaling & skinning their captives. No wonder Jonah was hiding.
But then God provided!!!
Here we have the very first of what God provided to get Jonah where God wanted Him to be. The STORM!!! – And what a storm it was!
The sailors tried everything ~ throwing all the cargo overboard to lighten the ship ~ praying to their myriad of gods to help ~ all to no avail.
Then suddenly they wondered why this guy (probably in the cargo hold) wasn’t praying to his God. They demanded to know what he had obviously done to put all of their lives into so much jeopardy.
God provided a storm to wake the run-away Jonah to His mighty plan. Jonah relents and knowing deep in his heart that he is to die because of his disobedience demands that the sailors throw him overboard. They finally capitulate and do as Jonah says ~ the storm immediately abates.
The God provided again!!!
Jonah sinks through the violent water ~ obviously sea weed, thrown up by the storm, winds it way around his body as he sinks to the bottom of the sea. The suddenly THE FISH!
We all know the story so well ~ God is a God of miracles ~ whatever happened to Jonah in this precarious time ~ through it all God was there with Him ~ Jonah prayed and God answered.
This astounding creature was designed by God for this particular time and in this particular place for this particular reason.
(Interesting to note that Jonah was three days inside this amazing creatures belly in the depths of the sea and Jesus was three days in the depths of the earth after His crucifixion.)
Then God provided yet again!!!
After three days, Jonah was vomited out by God’s special creature. God spoke again and this time Jonah obeyed.
Jonah preached repentance and obedience to the people of Nineveh. They turned and followed Jehovah God.
God provided a special man for Nineveh ~ looking at the story it is so easy for us to say Jonah should have trusted God and obeyed Him. But what about us? What would we have done and where would we have gone? What would have been our response given the same set of circumstances?
God provided Jonah for Nineveh and God provided Jesus for us.
The story of Jesus ~ sent to a hostile world ~ cruelly treated ~ killed on a cross ~ rose again after three days ~ taking with Him the sins of the world ~ paying the price for our salvation.
Don’t delay any longer ~ give your life to Jesus right here right now. Walk with Him and step out with Him daily. Give Him all of your life and obey Him when he speaks to you.
God loved the people of Nineveh so much He sent a special guy to help them – God loves YOU so much He sent a very special person in the form of Jesus to help you.
All you need to do is to accept His amazing gift of life ~ You can break the power that sin has over you ~ ask His forgiveness today and start living a free life in Jesus
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