There are two things I really got out of Jonah’s story. One is about attitude. The Bible talks about attitude in several different places. For example, it talks about being a cheerful giver to the Lord. If I bitterly and angrily drop my tithe in the bucket each week, God doesn’t honor that. It’s about my attitude! Here’s another example about mindset and attitude that I love because it’s such a vivid verse.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
It’s not just about your actions, it’s about the attitude and motivation behind those actions. You may not love what God’s calling you to do, you may not understand it, but I tell you this, He’s going to get that thing done. You can either help Him or watch Him help Himself through and around you. One scenario sees you being a faithful follower of God who has faithfully obeyed Him, the other scenario makes you Jonah. And I think I’ve said enough about how he ended up. Either way, God’s gonna get done what He needs to get done. We can’t control what the Boss asks us to do. We can control our response to His call. We can control our attitude and our obedience. We can set ourselves up for blessings and favor, or we can follow Jonah’s example and set ourselves up a little shelter out in the heat where we can keep company with our anger and our self righteousness and our bitterness.
The last thing I have to say is this. Not only did God still accomplish the mission He needed accomplished, but He did something incredible with Jonah’s disobedience. God, in His infinite wisdom and power, used Jonah’s disobedience for good.
As Jonah jumps on a ship and tries to run from God’s mission, a great storm hits. The sailors are terrified, and they start calling out to all their different gods. They’re not praying to THE GOD, they’re trying out several different gods looking for favor that will keep the boat from breaking apart in the storm. They figure out that it’s the God of Jonah who’s causing all the ruckus, and Jonah tells them that the only way to calm the storm is for the sailors to toss Jonah overboard. To their credit, they don’t do it right away, trying instead to row to shore. When it’s clear that the only way to appease the storm is to toss Jonah, they call out to God, asking Him to find them innocent in the matter, and then they toss Jonah into the sea. The storm ceases, and then look at what happens.
Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
Beforehand, these sailors were crying out to a bunch of different gods. But after they saw the power of the one true God, they offered a sacrifice to Him and made vows. I don’t know what those vows were that they made, but it’s clear that they were drawn closer to the one true God through the experience. One translation says they stood in awe of the Lord. When God looked down on Jonah’s attempted escape, He didn’t just see a disobedient servant. He saw an opportunity. God saw a chance to reveal Himself to men who didn’t know Him.
I just find this so incredible. When you read Jonah, you understand that God was going to get the mission to warn the City of Nineveh accomplished no matter what. And that’s cool, and there’s a great lesson in that and that’s why I wrote about it. But I just love the bonus nature of God, don’t you? He had a mission He needed accomplished, but through disobedience, through what was a negative turn of events, God accomplished even more than He set out to. He saw a boat full of sailors, men who had a collection of lesser gods, of false gods, and God smiled and decided it was time to show them what a true God was all about. Through Jonah’s disobedience, God accomplished something great.
CLOSING AND PRAYER
What a mighty, amazing, wise, and incredible God! I just love stuff like this, and I find it so incredible and amazing. The Lord really showed me more of this same subject when I was reading through the book of Genesis, so I’ll be writing about something similar next week as I dig into the story of Joseph. I had a great time with the book of Jonah, it’s a very unique and interesting part of the Bible.
For prayers today, I asked one of my nephews if anything was on his heart that we should pray about. He said that he felt like we should pray for the sick and poor. I really love this kid’s heart, and I definitely want to follow his lead in prayer today. If you know people who are suffering from an illness or if you know people who are struggling to get by and make ends meet, let’s just lift them up today. Ask God to bless them, to bring His will about in their lives, to bring them healing and peace. If you don’t have anyone specific in mind, just pray in general. There are a lot of hurting people in our world, so let’s lift them up to the Lord in prayer today.
That’s it for the book of Jonah, and that’s it for today’s blog. I’ll be back on Thursday before jumping into the story of Joseph next week. I love you guys, and I hope you’re having a great day. God loves you, and He’s present in your life.