In chapter 1 of Jonah, he had run away from the presence of the Lord like a spoiled child. When he found himself in the belly of a whale, he cried out to the Lord in distress. Despite his silly disobedient action, God answered him by hurling him into the depths of and into the heart of the seas with currents swirling about him. The frightening waves and breakers swept over Jonah as he prayed feeling banished from the sight of God.
As he tried to remember God, the engulfing waters continued to threaten him. Seaweed wrapped around his head and he sank down. He felt barred forever from the presence of the Lord. All this was happening because Jonah was intimidated over God’s command for him to go to Nineveh. There, again he prayed and made promises to God “with shouts of grateful praise” he said, “I will keep my vows. I will say salvation comes from the Lord.” Then God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land.
Finally, Jonah prayed, “You Lord have brought up my life out of the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord and my prayers rose to you in your holy temple.”
The fact that God sent him alone says that Jonah was gifted, competent and fully equipped for the job. Imagine if we had to send people; we would send a team to that aggressive city. It was as strong and popular as New York City. It took three days to walk through this powerful city filled with hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine industrious, commercial Nineveh, with economic strength and power. Other nations feared this place because it had terrorized the Hebrew people.
Jonah did not want to go. It was not the walls of the city that intimidated him, but Nineveh had been an enemy to his people. His opinion of that city, (contrary to the purpose of God) seemed to say, “My way oh Lord, not yours.” When Jonah should have obeyed, he was annoyed because the people of Nineveh did not serve, seek, or worship God: they worshiped a female goddess who had nothing to do with the creator.
His commission was to preach “God the creator” against their goddess. To stand against all of them telling them to repent, or in forty days God would tear down that city.
Now the clock was ticking; he was running out of time because of time wasted in rebellion. God commissioned him where the odds were against him. God sent one man, Jonah fully qualified, to perform a task against arduous odds. Yet, he was not by any means alone.
Living by faith means obedience to God. In Him, we live and move and have our being.
Next month we will find out if Jonah ever said, “NEVERTHELESS, NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE BE DONE!”