The story of Jonah is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. However, the book of Jonah is one of the least read books in the Bible! Let this devotion serve as a challenge to read this book with fresh eyes this week.
Jonah is perhaps the most unique prophet in the Bible. Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah, and so many others serve as intensely righteous men who carry about the Lord’s message with great zeal. Habakkuk shows shocking honesty and transparency in his prayer life. Amos, as we just read, shows us that the most humble people– yes, even the shepherds– are called into ministry of some kind. But what about Jonah?
Jonah shows that rebellious streak that runs within all of us at some time or another. God has called him to preach to the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and Jonah does not listen. It’s understandable; Nineveh is nearly 700 miles away from Jerusalem. That would take well over a month to travel there in his time! But wait– Jonah doesn’t just say no to God. He actually runs away in the opposite direction!
So Jonah runs away and God lets him know that there’s no running from God. In fact, throughout Jonah’s refusal to minister to the Assyrians, it still brings glory to God. The sailors he’s traveling with tremble with fear when they discover who Jonah’s God is. Notice that, in 1:11, the sailors want to please Jonah’s God, and instead of saying, “Let’s turn this ship around and head to Nineveh,” he says, “Just throw me overboard.”
But God wasn’t done with Jonah. Jonah’s saved. But more importantly, Jonah experiences a spiritual reckoning: Jonah has a moment of complete clarity and offers up a remorseful, prayerful praise to God. He recognizes that God is the one in control (2:3). And he recognizes that salvation comes only from the LORD.
So here are a few questions for us to consider in all this:
Do we listen for God’s voice like Jonah does?
Do we reject God’s call like Jonah did? Probably more than we realize.
Do we expect God to call us to the “Nineveh” of our lives?
Do we learn from our mistakes like Jonah did, and pray about it?
Will Jonah learn from these events, and change his ways? We’ll have to find out tomorrow.