When I was about six or seven years old I always went to church classes while my parents attended the service. I always listened to some occasional stories about Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David, but surely one that always caught my attention was that of Jonah.
After many years, already converted, I read the book of this prophet a few times to deepen. It is interesting how much of the teaching we can draw from a four-chapter book and apply it to our Christian life.
The purpose of this text is to facilitate the brothers’ understanding of history and to offer a reflection for our life from the issues involved in the text.
The summary of the book of Jonah
Jonah was a prophet, someone who knew the Lord and was already “a messenger of God” in the Old Testament. His mission was to go to Nineveh, a large city that was very corrupted by wickedness and sin.
The prophet tried to escape God’s presence and embarked on a journey to Tarshish and away from the purpose for which the Lord had called him.
Along the way a great difficulty appeared through a storm sent by the Lord. There is a great drive from the sailors present. These end up fearing God and repenting. Shortly thereafter, Jonah threw himself into the sea to appease God’s wrath and spent a few nights in the belly of a large fish praying for forgiveness for his attempt to escape.
After this, Jonah fulfilled his call and announced the destruction that God would send to that city for its wickedness. All of Nineveh believed in God, and then the Lord forgave the sins of that people.
The story, however, that could end up with a beautiful morality of repentance and salvation on all sides still offers greater learning when Jonah, after all, puts himself in a totally incoherent position and questions God when He changes his mind. in regard to the destruction it would bring to those people.
Jonah knew God
The first part of this study is devoted to breaking the image we have that Jonah was just any disobedient.
Just as Christians, who live daily with Jesus and participate in his work, was Jonah. A prophet raised by God among the people to preach repentance to a sin-defiled people. (The Lord Jesus Himself quotes Jonah as a prophet in Matthew 12:39).
Jonah’s problem was not how much he knew the Lord. But how much in his heart was the will to fulfill God’s call.
In line with the great commission (Matt. 28: 16-18), we understand that our calling is to preach the gospel, which is salvation through repentance of sins and faith in Christ.
Jonah ran away
Many people point out that Jonah fled for fear of the evil of the Ninevites. The Holy Bible does not make this clear anywhere. The text allows us to understand that Jonah fled only by refusing to do what God, the sovereign, had planned as a mission for the prophet.
The attempt to flee from the presence of God is futile, being the Lord omnipresent and omnipotent, we understand that He is everywhere and has the power to do His will in whatever way He pleases.
Many times we Christians do not know how to subject ourselves to God and place ourselves under His sovereignty. We know in the light of the Word that the misrepresentation of truth will always be present and that there are false prophets among us. Sometimes we see preaching that is much more man-centered than Christ-centered, and this feeds the idea that our will must be respected by God and not the other way around.
God sent the storm
The first thing many Christians tend to think when things get tough is that the devil is struggling to make the lives of believers hell. We have to be careful with this thought. Knowing that we are under the authority and lordship of Jesus Christ, we can see that sometimes God Himself sends a “storm” to avoid a path contrary to His perfect will.
The Hebrew word for the evil caused by the storm is “Ra’ah”. Interestingly, it is the same word quoted for the moment that Jonah chooses to go in the opposite direction that God had commanded him to go. This gives us the basis for understanding that God understands every evil, whether that of the Ninevites or of Jonah in not doing His will, as a personal offense.
Being Almighty, God used the storm to keep Jonah from escaping his purpose and even caused several pagan sailors to fear and worship him, repentant of his wickedness.
After his will is fulfilled, and through the moment Jonah is thrown into the sea, God has compassion on repentant sailors as well. This reveals his merciful character to all.
A curious thing about this is that the sailors, even though they were pagans, had mercy on Jonah and did not want to give him over to death (Jn 1: 11-13).
When Jonah is swallowed by the great fish and remains deep in the sea, he prays to God thanking him for his mercy and the deliverance bestowed on him (Jn 2). Even opposing God, He was granted the saving grace that did not allow the one to die in the depths of the abyss.
Jonah shows repentance for fleeing from the Lord after the great tribulation that came upon him and is willing to do his will and preach the destruction that would come to the city of Nineveh.
Bringing to our reality, the situation is similar when, in the midst of a great struggle and difficulty, we turn to God with a sorry heart from our failures and our attempt to flee from His presence and toward our own interests. In His mercy, the Most High forgives us and allows us to return to the right path.
After Jonah fulfilled his mission and from the mouth of God announced the destruction that would come to Nineveh in response to his evil ways before the Lord, that people repented. Different from what we sometimes understand. Repentance is not a feeling of guilt. But change in behavior and attitude. Which means that those people decided to abandon the ways that seemed good to them and submit to the sovereignty of God’s perfect will.
I quoted here that evil things are those that offend the Lord, and that both Jonah and the people to be destroyed were doing the same. Repentance works the same way. God does not take into account the size of the offense, but how much the heart of the converted is, in fact, intended to retract it.
Fulfilling the commanded purpose, Jonah preached and over one hundred and twenty thousand people turned from their evil ways.
The wrath of Jonah
As I said earlier, it could all end with a beautiful moral of repentance and salvation for all involved. Were it not for the prophet’s wrath when God gives up on destroying those people because of their repentance.
Jonah even begs for his death for not understanding and accepting the divine decision. Perhaps the prophet did not understand that what God expected was the conversion of the heart (and understanding) of all the characters mentioned.
This happens a lot in our midst these days, when we put ourselves in the position of condemnators and do not look with good eyes on the conversion of people who, in our view, were plunged into sin and could not be saved.
The same is true at all times when we question the truth of a brother’s conversion according to what we know of his past.
Both are totally out of what the Word says about how we should act.
The book ends with God giving a sermon to the prophet, who although he had previously received the mercy of the pagan sailors (who did not want to deliver him to death) and also of God himself (who allowed him to live), had no compassion for a city of population so large that according to the Lord could not distinguish between evil and good for not knowing Him.
The merciful and gracious character of God seen in the book of Jonah can be referenced in the teaching of Jesus Christ in the text of Matthew 6: 14-15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Thanks you I Enjoyed read the word everyday
This is an inspiration to many especially us who stray from the will of God. This story elaborates more than oneself understanding. God bless you.
Beautiful. Absolute truth. The Word of God is Holy. Thank you for making yourself available to God and preaching His Word. Our God desires and craves to provide mercy provided we seek it. He is so good! I read these writings regularly and come away with a message resonating with God’s personal work in my life and spirit. God is with His people and He loves beyond which we understand.
God bless you for this study. I have learnt a lot
Powerful, powerful lesson here, as much as we want to hear God’s word and His salvation plan, so must we share it with the ones still in sin. Amen. Powerful message from a young soul
Thank you for this. Needed this reminder today. Be blessed….
Thank you God bless you for this wise and words
Great, teaches us to obey the voice of God
Thank you for sharing. The Lord bless you 😇.
Amen! Praise the lord. God works all things together for good
This is so true for me as well. So many times, I have “run away from” what God seems to want me to do, and the results are never good.
Jonah should have known that God is everywhere. This is a great story that tells us that we need to follow God’s will. Great article Marcelo Brandão.
Your offline Bible and studies are great.The notifications remind me to read the WORD everyday and therefor be in the WORD !
I am praying for my son to return to God. I often thought of him as my prodical son. Now I think he is closer to the Story of Jonah. Up until he went to college he was very close to God and loved studying the Bible.
He became disillusioned with Christians when he went to a college Navagator’s meeting and took his friend, who was gay. His friend was judged and not accepted.
Then about 6 years ago he came to me He said he had something to tell.me that would be the worse thing I would want to hear. He told me that one day he believed in God and the next day he didn’t. He said he tried to recreate the faith of his perfect childhood, but he couldn’t. He said it wasn’t anything we did. He said that just like the verse in the Bible he searched for God. He said he must have not searched right because he still didn’t find his faith. He says he likes the church we go to , but feels like a hypocrite if he goes.
He has told me that I may tell anyone about anything he says, especially if it makes me feel better. We have had many hours of conversation about this. He says if he thought Christianity was true he would be a Christian.
He has caused me to question my faith, but mine has come back stronger. He has also helped me learn a lot about apologetics and more compassion for other parents that struggle trying to reach their wayward children. I reel that my son will “find” his faith again. He has two precious children that he has encouraged us to teach about the Bible and Christianity.
This child, Joshua, was named for the warrior of great faith, Joshua in the Bible. He is also a rainbow child. He has 8 siblings in heaven. We dedicated him to God when he was 3 months old. He got Baptized when he was 8 years old. I don’t believe God created him to let him languist in Hell. Please pray for my son and all the people that are struggling with their faith. Thank you for writing this Study of Jonah. I thought you had great insight.
Many Christians believe once saved, always saved. I do. Just as with the prodical son, my cousin, a friend, and others, God will sit him down (or lay him in a hospital bed) and give him nothing but time to take a good look at himself and his life. It is in times like this our hardened hearts tend to truly listen to God again. I will remember your son in my prayers.
A message from God, the Lord works in mysterious ways!! All the Glory to Our Heavenly Father!! Thank you Jesus!!💙
Thank you for a fresh reminder that God’s ways are far beyond ours. God helps convert our hearts at the same time as we obey the great commission of spreading the Gospel. Again love is seen as His motive in all His acts.
God bless you.
A true story of obtaining salvation after repentance. After the ordeals of Jonah ,he demonstrated a change in behavior and was forgiven. So were the people of Nineveh.
Jonah was thrown into the sea by the men. He did not “throw himself into the sea”. Jonah 1:15 – So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the storm stopped. – NLV
This made my day and I learned a different way on this topic not condemning others but forgiving and interceding on there behalf to God be the glory
Great summary and insight into the story of Jonah.
My friend how wonderful God is, can you help me
Thanks you Jesus for your grace and mercy in my life and for your constant intervention went things gets tough.you are always there to avoid paths that are contrary to your perfect will in my life.
A reminder to constantly self-check our motives and what we deem is right according to our own understanding… we might as well be going out of the path that God intends us to walk in.
What a lovely message Marcelo, keep up the great work!!
I have liked this teaching, thanks for sharing
AMEN, Thank You ABBA FATHER for Your mercy 💕🌺💕🌺💕🌺💕
This is great!
As Jesus said that the sign of Jonah is related to the sign of the son man in the last days ,all believer in Christ must live a resurrected life in Jesus Christ.
Praise the Lord… Thanks for the reminder..the word that give life.
I love Jesus he’s my heart and soul; my saviour till the end of time