A Sunday school teacher was proud of her lesson for the day. She thought she had presented the material quite nicely. Summing up, she asked the class, “And what do we learn form the story of Jonah and the big fish?” Eight-year-old Suzy thought for a moment and answered, “Always travel by air.”
Well, I hope that’s not the only thing we learn from the story of Jonah.
People that are antagonistic against the scriptures usually have a few main targets that they like to attack to discredit the Word of God. One of their targets is usually the creation narrative of of the book of Genesis. The reason for this is that if they can remove an all wise and all power creator then a whole lot of theories, philosophies and alternative answers come into play. It’s after the Genesis account that they begin to target the story of Jonah. If they can discredit this story then all the other stories in the Bible have to be brought into question.
I personally believe that the story of Jonah and creation are tied together, because if there is a creator then certainly he could have created a fish big enough to swallow a man. So the question always has been, is this story real or is it a fable or myth and maybe even a legend. I possess the firm belief that it is real! If you’ll notice in the scriptures that anytime the Lord told a parable or metaphor He never used proper names. He would say things like, “A man had two sons…..” “There was a certain woman….”, but when proper names were give this meant that this was a real individual. In fact Jonah is mentioned in other books in the Bible and even the Lord Himself referred to him.
Jonah is placed into an awkward position when he’s ask to go and preach to the people of Nineveh, because he’s a Jew and he’s use to prophesying to his own people and preaching to his own people. It’s now that God is sending him to a group of people that he doesn’t care for, nor does he like. If you’d like to know why he doesn’t wish to go and preach to these people you can find it in Jonah 4:2…”Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” Jonah knew that God would forgive these people.
I’ve found that its easy to prophesy expansion and blessing to your own people and those that you like. The struggle is with people you don’t care about. If Jonah goes and preaches to Nineveh and they repent they may become stronger than Israel. God just might make them a bigger deal, than his own people.
It’s one thing to walk with God when we’re the big deal, but our love for God and obedience is tested when He wants to use us to make somebody else a bigger deal than we are. Our praise and obedience isn’t tested when we’re always the king of the hill and we’re always the one being blessed and in charge. How willing are we to help some people succeed that we really don’t care about.
You see this story just isn’t about Jonah, it’s about all of us. Check your motives today and ask yourself, “Am I willing?”