Summary: Running from God is disastrous. Following God brings peace. Even when the storms come we find peace in the will of God.
A man’s car broke down on the side of the road. He flagged down a passing car. The driver stopped neither had jumper cables. She would need to push his car with her car with hers at a speed of 40 MPH. In this way they could push start his car.
He looked in his rearview mirror to see what was taking her so long. When he looked he saw to his horror that she was bearing down on him at 40 MPH. It dawned on him he had not been clear with his instructions. God has given us instructions and been clear about them.
Jonah is famous because the great fish swallowed him. Is it just a fish story? Story focuses on a disobedient character and swallowed by a great fish. Story of Jonah is a true story. Jonah is a real person who made a prophesy to King Jeroboam. II Kings 14:25. There is a specific historical time frame of 750 BC for this event. Nineveh is a real city that has been excavated. Other cities mentioned in this Bible book are also historically known cities, Tarshish and Joppa.
When there are made up stories in the Bible there are certain styles of literature that let us know it is simply a story. An example of a story that is only for illustrating a point is the prodigal son. But the story of Jonah is different. It is in narrative literature. The book of Jonah is not written is a figurative descriptive way like when Isaiah refers to the trees clapping their hands. The only exception is that Chapter 2 is in this form of poetry.
Jesus connects Jonah to an actual event. Jesus refers to Jonah in Luke 11:29-32, Matt 16:1-4, Matthew 12:38-42. Just as Jonah was 3 days 3 nights in the belly of the fish, so shall son of man be in the belly of the earth. Jesus calls Jonah a prophet. Jesus mentioned Jonah being in the belly of the fish, referred to Jonah’s preaching and linked Jonah to his own resurrection.
The account of Jonah is miraculous and amazing. But so is the creation of the world, the parting of the Red Sea, turning of bitter water to sweet and Jesus walking on water. We worship a big God who controls and orders events and nature.
God Says Go
Jonah !:1-2 One day the LORD spoke to Jonah son of Amittai. He said, "Go to Nineveh, that great city, and speak out against it; I am aware of how wicked its people are."
Jonah was given a commission by God. Go to Nineveh and cry against the wickedness. Cry aloud in the streets God’s message. God gave Jonah a command to go.
The wickedness of Nineveh has gone before God. God sends his messenger Jonah to preach forgiveness. God gave Jonah some clear instructions.
God speaks clearly. It is clear to understand but difficult to obey. God calls the sinner to repentance. He calls the believer to complete surrender. Sometimes God speaks in the still small voice and sometimes it is dramatic.
Here in the Old Testament God wants his message of grace and mercy to be preached. God’s purpose is not exclusive it is inclusive.
When God says go there are two alternatives. One is to obey. Here I am Lord send me. The other is to disobey. To run from God.