1. God is merciful.
“Arise, go to Ninevah the great city, cry out against it for their wickedness has come up before Me.” Jonah 1:2 NKJV
This is another example of God’s mercy. He hears of the wickedness but rather than destroy them directly, like Sodom and Gormah, He chooses to give them warning. This warning gives the people an opportunity to think about what they’ve done and to turn from it to turn to God.
2. God uses everyone.
“But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:3
Jonah is blessed to hear a word from God directly. He is a prophet of God. Yet Jonah doesn’t behave like a prophet. Instead he doesn’t like what he heard from God and decides not to do his job. Jonah tries to run and hide from the presence of the Lord.
All this indicates to me that Jonah was not the most intelligent of the prophets that God chose. That fact should comfort us because there’s hope for us!
3. God wants to work with us.
“But Jonah had gone down…” Jonah 1:5
Here it is again “But Jonah.” Everyone else on the ship is trying to lighten the load. They are working together. But Jonah isn’t. Jonah is not working together, he’s off sleeping, doing his own thing.
This seems like a picture of how God wants to work with us but we would rather do our own thing.
4. God uses the foolish things to shame the wise.
“…captain says to Jonah, Arise, call on your God perhaps your God will consider us so that we may not perish.” Jonah 1:6
Earlier in the story we see everyone called out to their gods. This means the captain, the crew, and the other passengers were not believers.
It’s kind of funny to see a pagan reminding the prophet of God to actually call on God!
This is another way God shows us how he uses the foolish things of this world to shame those who think their wise. But it also points to the fact that all people know deep down there is only one true God!
5. God deserves our reverence.
“Jonah says I am a Hebrew. I fear the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.” “The men were exceedingly afraid.” Jonah 1:9-10
The prophet of God is running from God. Yet the unbelievers are the ones afraid. They have more reverence for God than His own prophet does!
6. We can’t make it on our own.
Jonah tells to throw him into the sea, so the sea will be calm. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land. (paraphrase of Jonah 1:12-13)
This reminds me of how we can hear instruction yet choose not to follow it. These men thought they could, by their own strength, make it back to land. They were wrong.
7. God works all things together for good.
“The men cried out to the Lord, “We pray O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life and do not charge us with innocent blood, for You O Lord have done as it pleased You.” Jonah 1:14
This is quite a turnaround! At the beginning everyone is calling on their gods. Now they are calling on the One True God. And they pray something akin to the “sinner’s prayer.” Don’t let me perish, don’t charge me for innocent blood, and your will be done.
God really does use all things to work together for good. Here is another example of how a runaway prophet, as shameful as it was, is used to convert a ship full of wayward people! Only God can do that!
8. No one should perish.
“The men feared the Lord exceedingly, offered sacrifices to the Lord, and took vows.” Jonah 1:16
The men are converted on the spot. They now believe. They show it by offering sacrifice to God and by taking a vow. These men are changed forever! All because a prophet of God was running from God! How amazing!
But that’s not the end of Jonah.
9. Nothing is outside of God’s control.
“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17
God knows all things. He knew Jonah would run away. He knew the sea would be rough. He knew the non-believers would come to saving knowledge of God. He knew the sailors would throw Jonah overboard. And He had a fish waiting!
There is really nothing going on that’s outside of God’s control. He knows how it all unfolds. It’s really about us learning to trust Him. Everything we go through is an opportunity to trust Him more.
He knows the results in advance. He knows how it will play out. He knows His purposes do not fail.
He asks us “will you trust Me?”
How about you? Will you trust Him today?
Father God, you are my Lord. Thank you for your word and Spirit to lead us in your truth. Thank you for helping us see more of You in this familiar story. Amen.