JONAH TOOK A CRUISE PART III Connecting Circumstances By Evangelist Charity Sephus
In chapter 2 Jonah cried out from the belly of a whale, sincerely, helplessly, and fearfully. He had been there for three days because he tried to run from the presence of God. His effectual, fervent prayer was heard and acknowledged by merciful, understanding, loving God, who then caused the fish to vomit him onto dry land.
Now, in chapter 3, God re-instructed Jonah, to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach. He made threats and promises of destruction and cold-blooded killing this time, and his attitude was as preposterous as before. He wanted God to annihilate the city. If he could have helped God with a bulldozer, it seems he would have been willing.
He began by going a day’s journey into the city proclaiming, “Forty more days and you will be overthrown.” (Don’t you wonder how Jonah had the audacity to entertain such a conspicuous attitude after all the pain he had suffered?) Well, his disposition was the same as the people he rejected. Where did his rebellion get him before? He was telling the people to repent and how long had it been when he had experienced mercy? (You would think he was always faultless)
Jonah was sent to pronounce judgment on a rebellious city after God convinced him that obedience would set him free. This preacher was infected with the same thing that he was sent to cure. God had just snatched him from great turmoil and commanded him to obey. Imagine God saying, “I mean GO, and you had better tell them what I said.” So, Jonah preached it with fire, with passion and conviction, yet grudgingly. He emphasized that every person, animal, and even children would be destroyed. He just strutted around the city (like some of today’s preachers do) expecting God to back him up by bringing disaster to the city. His attitude was ludicrous as he gave the appropriate message to people who worshiped a female goddess.
We are blessed to have Jesus who lived as a fleshly man, and because he had experiences in common with us, he knew how to preach an informed deliverance message for us. He understands how we feel and how we are encumbered. Unlike Jonah, his heart is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. The best preachers are those who understand that God loves the world. Now, we can pray “Oh Lord, have mercy on me,” as Jonah did from a place as inconspicuous as the whale’s belly.
Have you ever been so thoroughly and quickly blessed that you forget how awful things were? Next month let us see what happens when Jonah retired on a hill to watch the destruction of the city.
Let us preach with the hope and prayer that people will hear the word of the Lord. Not to the glory of man but to glorify the Father who is in heaven.