Jonah the reluctant prophet ∙
As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. – Jonah 2:7
1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.
2 He said, I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!
3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
7 When my life was ebbing away, I called out to the LORD.
9 I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.
10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
The original Skid Row was a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles covering over 50 city blocks immediately east of downtown.
Now the term “skid row” refers to an area of a city where people live who are “on the skids,” which derives from a logging term. Loggers would transport their logs to a nearby river by sliding them down roads made from greased skids. Loggers who had accompanied the load to the bottom of the road would wait there for transportation back up the hill to the logging camp.
The term began to be used for places where people with no money and nothing to do gathered, becoming the generic term in English-speaking North America for a depressed area in a city.
Jonah was “on the skids.” Sometimes we only see the light when we are in abject darkness. Despair can and often does lead to repentance. Jonah had slid down the slippery skids of the whale’s gullet. He was in total darkness. Upon reflection, his hardened stubborn heart began to soften.
Jonah had thought he could rebel and defy the Father without consequence. He had thought it could flee and somehow escape. But he was not paying attention. He forgot with Whom he was dealing. Worse, he forgot what the Father had unequivocally declared regarding rebellion and stubbornness. It is unlikely that Jonah would ever consider practicing witchcraft or worshiping idols, but . . ..
1 Samuel 15:23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
Disobeying the word of God is extremely serious and not to be taken lightly. How much worse is it to disobey the Father’s instructions when He speaks directly to you? Jonah did not get it until now. In the darkness, he finally sees the light. His near-death experience produces a newness of life. Finally, he gets the message that stubborn resistance to the Father’s direction produced collateral damage far beyond what Jonah could have imagined.
Jonah 2:2 I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!
Remember his circumstances. He was wracked with fear and stuck in hot, fetid darkness. Jonah hit bottom and was in the throes of anguish and despair. The Father’s fishy fix finally kicked in. Old memories stirred, and he recalled the Father’s loving, loyal, merciful, compassionate heart. Jonah now has confidence that the Father would deliver him despite everything. He repents. He turns his heart entirely to the Lord.
Jonah was called to be a prophet. At last, he is now willing to serve the Father with his whole heart no matter what. Issues remain that are exposed and resolved before the book ends. But that’s a story for another day.
While he is in the depths of despair, the Father offers Jonah a second chance.
1 Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time.
2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh and deliver the message I have given you.”
3 This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.
When the Father attempts to communicate, take the call. The first words out of your mouth should be: “Here I am, what would you have your servant do?” (Genesis 22:1, Exodus 3:4, 1 Samuel 3:4, Isaiah 6:8, Acts 9:10)
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father is the God of second chances. He never gives up on us. He is faithful! If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
Father there is so much of Jonah within me. I catch glimpses of him now and then. Thank You for dealing with me kindly and mercifully. Encourage me to serve You with my whole heart.
In our fallen natural state, we are essentially selfish. We live to please ourselves. The Father is motivated by pure and total love. His lovingkindness compels Him. The Father graciously reaches out to every child of the King. There is nothing about us that commends us to Him. He wants us to become like Him. Jonah’s journey is our journey.
2 Corinthians 5:14-18
14 Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.
15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
“A Jonah lurks in every Christian heart, whispering his insidious message of smug prejudice, empty traditionalism, and exclusive solidarity. And we grasp the message of the book only when we eliminate the Jonah within us” (Leslie Allen).
Deuteronomy 30:19 I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life so that you may live.
When our lives are out of harmony with the Father, we are out of tune. Our lives are in discord. We do not have music but noise in our souls. When we return to the Father and walk with Him, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs flood our hearts (Richison) (Ephesians 5:19).
At any time, the Father may bring dissonance into our lives. When it happens, it is not pleasant. But the Father is following an eternal blueprint worked out before He established the foundations of the Earth. We do not know all the factors as to why He does this; however, there is one thing that we do know, “the Father is too good to do wrong, and He is too wise to make a mistake (Richison).
Haggai 2:19 Yet from this day on, I will bless you.
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your lives.