There are only 4 chapters in the book of Jonah. Yet we get valuable lessons from the four chapters. Jonah gave more importance to himself than the word of God. He had a very narrow mind. Prophet Jonah stepped back from the duty given by the Father almighty. Father in heaven desires only repentance and a change of heart. He does not want to lose even one soul to the enemy. We often ignore His words and do not repent from our ways as much as we should. The enemy always makes us ignore the warnings, signs, and words of God. Just like many of us Jonah too had a distorted image of God in his mind. It led him into the depth of the ocean into the stomach of a whale. The one who hears our cries from every corner heard Jonah’s pleas from the belly of the fish and made the whale vomit him on the shores of Nineveh. Let us take a look at the mistakes made by Jonah:
- Jonah ran away from the presence of the Lord: God instructed Jonah in Jonah 1:2, 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” God told him to go to Nineveh but he took a ship to Tarshish. The reason for his disobedience is given by Jonah in Jonah 4:2, 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Jonah had thought that if the people of Nineveh repented and changed from their evil ways then the merciful Lord will not punish them. In that case, no one will believe his words again. Jonah gave more importance to his prophesy rather than to the change of heart in people. Jonah forgot Lord’s instructions and his duty.
Jonah ran away in a direction of his own choice. But the Lord did not leave him alone on his way. The Lord made strong winds blow against the ship Jonah was traveling in. When the other passengers came to know that the turbulence was because of Jonah, they threw him into the ocean. The Lord rescued Jonah and brought him to Nineveh.
2. The Jonah who walked along with the Lord: The Lord gave instructions to Jonah for the second time. Jonah 3:4, 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah obeyed this time. the king and all the people of Nineveh believed the words of Jonah. Jonah 3:5-10, 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
The merciful Lord saw the change of heart in His people and forgave them.
3. Jonah, the selfish prophet: Jonah did not like that the Lord did not destroy the city of Nineveh and forgave the people. Jonah 4:1,3: But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah even desired to die rather than see people being saved. Jonah went outside the city of Nineveh and built a shelter for himself to see what would become of the city of Nineveh. For shade the Lord made a leafy plant grow beside his shelter. Jonah was very happy in the comfort. But at dawn theLord made a worm chew away the plant so that it withered. This angered Jonah a lot. Seeing his anger and discomfort the Lord says to him Jonah 4: 9-11, 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Just think if the Lord had left Jonah on his way what would have happened? Another Sodom Gomorrah would have come up in Nineveh. Each person living on earth has been given a duty and a role to play by the Lord. For eg: family, job, community, etc. We too are like Jonah. More than the word of God and saving fellow brothers and sisters, we prefer and also place importance on money, status, rank, and reputation in society. Our Father in heaven saves each soul that repents irrespective of caste, religion, status, and standing. Jesus preached the Good News, selected, and sent the apostles into the world for the repentance of souls. Mark 16:15-16, 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
We have read about the desire of the Lord, Jonah’s disobedience, and its repercussions. Jonah suffered the consequences of disobeying the Lord. Just think, is there a Jonah inside me too???? It is time to examine yourself. If the answer is yes, then throw him out. Be careful about the days ahead. Do not let Jonah take residence inside you.