Three Days in the Belly of a Whale
|Date:||Sep 15 2016|
|Tags:||faith, jonah, missions|
Johah chapter number 1. This is a very famous story in the Bible and there’s so much that we can learn from it. Beginning in verse number 1, the Bible reads,
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Let me start out just by telling you a little bit about who Jonah was, because Jonah is actually mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. You don’t have to turn there, but in 2 Kings chapter 4 verse 25, the Bible reads, “He stored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of her servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.”
According to the Bible, Jonah was a prophet of the Lord who preached in the past and his pronouncements had come to pass. He was called the servant of the Lord. This man is a righteous man, he’s a prophet of God, but at this point in his life, we see him be very disobedient to God, rebelling against God’s commandment. He’s in a backslidden condition, if you will, he’s a backslidden Christian here, and really, what we see here is a man who has lost his first love, as the Bible says in Revelation chapter 2.
Because the Bible actually tells us a little bit later why it is that Jonah is fleeing from the presence of the Lord, and I’m going to get to that in a moment. First of all, it’s silly to try to flee from the presence of the Lord when God is everywhere. Okay? Psalm 139 says, flip over, if you would, to Psalm 139 verse 7, and this is a scripture that Jonah would have been familiar with, being a prophet of God in Israel, the Psalms have already existed at that time or were being Psalm, and so he should have already known this, but it says in Psalm 139 verse 7, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there e shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yeah, the darkness hideth not from thee, but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”
There’s no way to get away from God. Right? In the beginning there in verse 7, it said, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence,” it says that Jonah was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, but God’s presence is everywhere, there’s no escape. Now, if you looked at a map, you’d see that Jonah is basically going the exact opposite direction that God told him to go. He’s in Israel and he’s told to go to Nineveh, which would be east, and instead, he goes west to Tarshish. Okay? He’s doing the exact opposite of what God has told him to do.
To understand why it is that he’s fleeing, flip over to Jonah chapter number 4. For those of you that know the story, we’re going to get to it a little bit later. Jonah does eventually go to Nineveh and preach and the people end up responding to the preaching and getting right with God, and God does not destroy Nineveh. This makes Jonah very angry. It says in verse 1 of chapter 4, “But it displayed Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? 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.”
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