Summary: God is relentlessly trying to get our attention. Let’s learn from the life of Jonah to watch for his attempts.
Title: Can You Hear Me Now . . . Good
Text : Jonah
Author: Scott Cody
Herrin church of Christ www.herrincoc.com
How did your parents get your attention when you were little? Some snapped their fingers and that sound could be heard across an entire room filled with people. Somehow, we could recognize our parent’s finger snaps from those of all the other parents. Some parents clapped their hands. These were a bit more obvious in their attention getting methods. You may have been called by your full name. Those three words were seldom used together unless you were in trouble and when you heard them, you knew you had better listen up.
But the most often used attention getting method was counting to three. “One” was to get your attention. “Two” was the legal disclaimer that punishment was coming. And if you ever heard “three”, it was in the flash before you felt the swat on your hind end or the hands of your mom or dad picking you up and physically moving you to your time-out position.
As we are growing up, our parents are constantly working to get our attention: to follow the rules, to do our duty and to learn the important lessons of life. Although we are adults now, let’s not forget that those who love us are still striving to get our attention, and no one is of more importance than God himself.
That’s right. God’s trying to get your attention. He’s got billions of people to care for across the globe. Natural disasters and consequences of evil to heal, but in spite of all that’s on his plate, you, your future, and your wellbeing are always important to God and he relentlessly strives to get your attention to show you the way and remind you of his love.
There’s no better example of this in all of scripture than God’s continued attempts to get Jonah’s attention. Look through the book and you’ll see God snapping his fingers and even counting to three in hopes that Jonah would listen to him. There’s an important word that is repeated several times in the story of Jonah. Look at these passages and see if you can find it.
(Jonah 1:17) And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
(Jonah 4:6) So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.
(Jonah 4:7) But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.
(Jonah 4:8) When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”
Did you discover it? It’s the word “appointed” and throughout this story God intentionally plans some dramatic events to come Jonah’s way. From the infamous great fish that swallowed him, to the plant that gave him shade as he looked over Nineveh, even the worm that destroyed the plant that shaded Jonah’s head- these weren’t just “acts of nature” – they were “acts of God” and they had a particular purpose – to get Jonah’s attention and teach him an important life lesson.
You see, Jonah was a good Jewish prophet, but he didn’t have much love for the Gentiles, and especially the Assyrians who attacked his people. So when God told Jonah to go and preach God’s judgment to Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, Jonah took off in the opposite direction. When I was a kid, I thought he ran because he was afraid of the Assyrians, but as I read the book more carefully, I realize that Jonah was really afraid of God and his mercy. Jonah was all for God unleashing destruction on Nineveh. What he was afraid of was that God would relent and spare the city if they repented. So to avoid being a party to that event, Jonah ran to the west and set sail across the Mediterranean Sea.
And that’s when God snapped his fingers. Let’s look at a few ways God tried to get Jonah’s attention. I believe we just might find that God is using the same methods today to get ours.
First of all, God sought to get Jonah’s attention through by speaking to him face to face. Long before the storm and the big fish that we know so well, God did something else to get Jonah’s attention.
(Jonah 1:1-2) The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”