Jonah was not the typical prophet. He doesn’t exactly offer us a great role model to go by. So what were the Israelites to learn from this prophet, and what is our “take-away” for the book of Jonah?
- No one can run away from God. He is everywhere.
- God gives us second chances.
- God loves even the worst sinners and expects us to love them too.
- We can serve God with a willing spirit or begrudgingly. Our relationship with God suffers when we serve begrudgingly.
- Serving God isn’t about personal satisfaction, we are the servants.
- We don’t limit God with our resistance to his call, but we miss his blessings.
- God wins, sometimes in spite of his “called”.
The first three points above are self-explanatory and were discussed in my last post. I mention them here for the purpose of review.
Does it matter how we serve God? Jonah was not a willing messenger, but at least at his second call he went. He hated the people he spoke to as he begrudgingly gave them God’s message. Jonah resented the very God who gave him the message to deliver.
Has your service to God ever resembled Jonah’s service? Have you ever participated in a church function out of a sense of duty even though you secretly resented that you were expected to be there? What happened to your sense of joy in serving the Lord?
Why do we serve God? Jonah wanted to have the last word. He told the Ninevites that God was going to destroy their city, and he wanted to see it happen. To Jonah, it was all about being seen as right when it was all over, it was all about Jonah.
When we serve God, it isn’t about us. It shouldn’t matter if we are recognized as great leaders. What really matters is our obedience to God and our relationship with him, even if the people we are trying to serve don’t seem to respond. The greater prophets in the Bible seldom experienced the joy of seeing revival among those to whom they ministered.
Is God limited by our failures to respond to his call? Not hardly. God is God and he will accomplish his ends one way or another. God was not surprised to see Jonah board the ship to Tarshish. Nor was he surprised to witness Jonah’s pouting when Ninevah was given another chance. Perhaps God chose Jonah because he knew this would be his response. Perhaps God knew the Ninevites needed to see an angry man who would shake his fist at them saying something like, “and He’ll do it too! He just had a whale swallow me in the bottom of the sea and spit me out so I would come here and tell you this!”
What kind of follower of Christ are you? Do you willing do what God asks in his Word? Or do you resist his commands with “I know that’s what the Bible says, but I think…” When you feel the voice of the Holy Spirit leading you to do something that takes you outside your comfort zone, how do you respond? When we fail to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, we lose. We lose fellowship with God, we lose the joy of our salvation, and we lose opportunities to experience first-hand the mighty hand of God at work.