I just finished reading the book of Jonah.
What a funny little man Jonah was.
At least that is the illustrative picture my mind has of him!
God gives him an assignment, and he RUNS!
I laughed in my soul as I read this! Can you imagine this little man sitting in his chair on a quiet morning, having his cup of whatever they drank back then, and reading the news from chiseled rock and BOOM the voice of God is heard giving an assignment to him!
From a bird’s-eye view, I can see Jonah jumping up and off of his chair and running frantically through narrow, dirt covered streets AWAY from the presence of the Lord. RUN, RUN, RUN little gingerbread man, run, run, run as fast as you can!
He finds a ship, pays the fare and proceeds to become a passenger in hiding. The plan? Whatever! Just get me away from the Lord and that crazy assignment!
A storm visits the sea the ship makes passage upon.
Not just a little storm, but one that God Himself cooks up! From the description in scripture you would think the ship was positioned in a big pot of boiling water on God’s stove top!
“The sea grew more and more tempestuous” ( Jonah 1:11).
The poor sailors aboard are scrambling to figure out who is responsible for the chaos. They cast lots and discover that the “sleeper in the inner part of the ship” was to blame. “Get up! Get up! Who are you man? What the heck do you do? Where do you come from? And of what people are you? Sheesh dude what have you done that we are all paying the consequence for?” (my words).
Man overboard! Oops, so much for the nap Jonah! The Lord knew where you were hiding!
In chapter 1:17, it is written that the Lord “APPOINTED a great fish”. I’m gonna make a guess that it was to save Jonah from swallowing the sea and drowning, wouldn’t you agree?
Jonah was left in the great fish for three days and three nights. Kinda like being sent to your room as a kid to figure out on your own why your actions served you up child isolation boot camp.
Jonah came to the right conclusion; he should have obeyed the voice of the Lord! A change of heart and the Lord spoke to the fish and “vomited Jonah out on dry land” (Jonah 2:10). I’m gett’n a really gross mental picture right now (and scent)!
The Lord gives Jonah the assignment the SECOND time.
Jonah obeys and the people of Nineveh repent and get right with God!
Wow! Awesome! Incredible!! Can you imagine an entire city repenting? I’d be danc’n down every street with my hands in the air!
But not Jonah…
That dude wanted to see them pay for their wicked ways, but God desired to show His mercy and His steadfast love in order to save an entire city from destruction!
So what does Jonah crank of next? He was so angry over the city’s repentance that he begged God to take his life! He “went out of the city and made a booth for himself there” (4:5) He “sat there” to see what would become of the city. (His bottom lip was probably scrunched up over his top lip while he watched and waited…pouter!)
What does God do? “The Lord God APPOINTED a plant” (4:6) to grow up over Jonah to shade him, “to save him from his discomfort” (4:6). BUT, BUT, BUT when the dawn came, “God APPOINTED a worm!” to attack the plant so it withered. Then when the sun rose, “God APPOINTED a scorching east wind” (4:7-8) to beat down on Jonah’s head until he was faint! What? Yup, Jonah the little whiner asked to die AGAIN, (poor little helpless soul) because he was sooo angry that the plant died. God’s response? (God is clever in His teaching ways with us!) “And the Lord said, “you pity the plant, for which you DID NOT labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (4:10-11).
And the book ends. Just like that!
There are so many lessons in this short biblical book, but one that I took note of today is WHAT God APPOINTED to get His point driven home; A fish, a plant, a worm, and a scorching east wind.
Things that make you go hmmm.
What has God appointed in your life to save, rebuke, teach, redeem, show mercy and love?
Are you paying attention?
The point is this: GOD SPEAKS, He knows us and knows where we are at ALL TIMES!!
Are you listening? Will you obey? Or will you run?
I am encouraged and reminded today that we serve a relentless God of hope and miracles!!
How about you?