Friday, October 28, 2011

Jonah and Jesus...How They Were Different

It seems like most people are familiar with the story of Jonah and how he was in the belly of a giant fish for three days, but do they know how Jonah came to be in the belly of the fish?

The Word of God came to Jonah and asked him to go to the city of Nineveh and tell all the people there that God was very displeased with them. God wanted him to tell the people that if they did not repent within 40 days, he would destroy the city and all the people in it.

Jonah was a jew, of course. The people of Nineveh were not. As a matter of fact, the people of Nineveh were known to be cruel, evil people; people who did horrendous things to others along the lines of the Nazis. Jonah hated them, and he didn't want God to warn them because he knew that God was gracious and merciful and loving and if the Ninevites, by some miracle, did repent of their sins, he knew that God would forgive them and not destroy them. He would much rather that God would destroy them, so Jonah ran away from God. God wanted him to go east and Jonah "went down" and hopped the first boat west.

God decides that He is not going to allow Jonah to shirk his duties and so He decides to shake things up on the boat by creating a big storm. Jonah "goes down" into the depths of the boat where he will feel as little of the storm as possible and goes to sleep. Everyone else on the ship sees that this is no normal storm and they begin doing anything and everything they can to lessen its impact on the ship; they throw stuff overboard, they weep, cry and they begin praying to all the various gods represented on the boat. Jonah, meanwhile is having a good nap.

Finally, the captain of the ship finds Jonah and asks him who he is and why he isn't praying to his god. Jonah tells him he is a jew and he is running from God cause God wants him to do someething he doesn't want to do. The captain is frightened and dismayed and tells Jonah to get with the program and start praying.

(Can you see how when we run from God and doing His purposes in our life, we seem to go down, down, down; further and further away from God?)

Finally, Jonah tells the captain to he knows God has sent this storm and that the captain should just pick Jonah up and toss him overboard "down into the deep" and they would be saved. It is my opinion that Jonah was thinking that he could not run from God so he would just die rather than go and preach to the Ninevites. So, the captain says okay and tosses him overboard.

God is in control of everything and he knows exactly what Jonah's going to do, so he purposes to have a huge fish there just waiting and it swallows Jonah, and he spends three days there while the Spirit of God deals with him and his sinfulness and disobedience. Jonah calls out to God while in the fish's belly, and God has the fish spit Jonah out onto shore where the Word of God comes to him and tells him to go to Nineveh to warn the people of their impending doom if they don't repent.

Well, this time Jonah dusts himself and runs directly to the east to Nineveh where he does just what God told him to do. You know what happens? The people of Nineveh repent, fast, pray, dress in sack cloth, and sit in ashes and God decides that's good enough for Him and does not destroy the people or city.

You'd think that's where the story ends, wouldn't you? But God is good and always wants those who love Him to come to a full knowledge of Him and His ways.

If you can believe it, Jonah is mad; well not just mad, furious; so furious he tells God that he knew this is what would happen and asks God to kill him; to take his life. God asks him if it's right for him to be angry about this and Jonah goes out, sets up a tent for shade and sits in the desert.

God makes this plant grow up next to Jonah and Jonah is very thankful for it and the shade that it brings; as a matter of fact, Jonah takes quite a liking to the plant. The next day the plant dies and God sends a big wind and the sun is shining down on him and while Jonah is mad about the plant dying, he has no shade and is about to faint, he asks God to again take his life. So God asks him if he has a right to be mad about the plant and Jonah tells him that he does have a right to angry and that God should
kill him right now.

God tells Jonah, "Look, Jonah, you took a liking for the plant, you didn't do anything to make it live or grow, but you cared for it and when it died, you took pity on it. Why should I not take pity on the people of Nineveh? I created them, gave them life, loved them, saw their error and offered them forgiveness if they repented. When they did, why shouldn't I, who gave them life, take pity on them?

That's how the story ends. It's the story of a selfish, rebellious, prideful man that God used to bring about one of the largest revivals in history. We are not told what happens to Jonah. It is believed that Jonah himself wrote the book of Jonah, so at least we know that he saw himself as he was and that hopefully he came to repent of his shortcomings.

Now, let's look at Jesus, who was also a prophet of God, sent to preach the Kingdom of God was at hand to those who would repent and believe His message.

Jesus never disobeyed, never went the other way, never refused to do, say or be whatever God wanted him to be. Jesus steadfastly walked the path God set before him. Jesus divested himself of all of his abilities as God and aligned himself completely with mankind and yet lived his life without sin. Jesus not only preached the message God gave him to a sinful world, he endured the world's hatred, scorn, beating, spitting, mocking, and crucifixion. He then spent three days in the belly of the earth and then God had the earth spit him back up to preach a message of eternal life and blessed hope to those who would believe his message, accept that he had come to pay the price for their sins and devote their lives to him.

There's a big difference in the stories. Jesus said that someday the Ninevites would sit in judgment of the ones who had heard his message and not repented because they (the Ninevites) had repented at the preaching of a mere man (Jonah) and that one greater than Jonah (Jesus) was among them preaching and yet they didn't repent.

After meditating on these two Bible accounts, the holy spirit asked me, "Kim, what are you running from doing for me today?" Is there something that God wants you to do that you are avoiding or running from. Is it as simple as saying "Yes" to Him? Or is He possibly asking you to make a change in your life now that you have believed on Him and asked Him in to your life and that change is one you don't want to let go of? The purpose of this blog today is to tell you what God is telling me. Don't be fooled, my friend. God will have His way and what He purposes will come to pass. It can come the easy way or it can come in a more difficult, painful way, but it will come to pass. Stop running from God. Sit down, get quiet and listen to what He is saying to you. I know from personal experience that life is sweeter, more joyful and peaceful when you are at peace with God. His promise to us in His Word is this:

Matthew 11:28-30

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

Stop trying to do everything in your own power. Allow Him to lead you and live in and through you. He will do the work, all you have to do is obey.

1 Cor. 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

In other words, God is not going to lay something on you that you are unable to handle; and He will always make a way for you to bear the circumstances He puts you in.

Friend, He is so worth it. It is hard to put into words the changes He can bring in your life...changes that are hard and if He were not there seeing you through them, there would be no way on earth you could do it. And yet, He is there, so the changes take place and you feel joyful and at peace only to find that there are more changes to come...things you need to do and things you need to stop. You think, O God, I can't do this, but you do, indeed, do it, by His grace and with His hand leading you. It hurts, but the hurt is nothing compared to the joy in knowing that you are doing what your Creator/Father/Savior wants you to do. It brings you to your knees in worship and makes you want to dance in joy and exhiliaration. Do it. Take that step. Reach out to God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and you will never regret that step. All He asks is for you to listen, hear, and follow Him. He will never make you do it alone.

Father God, may we all hear your call and obey without questioning. Give me a heart of obedience to you. Make your wants my wants. I want to love what you love. I want to show your love to all people. Use me today to bring your love to someone, anyone. And Lord, if someone reads this today who doesn't know you. I pray that a seed has been planted so that you may water it and make it grow or perhaps, Lord, the seed was already planted; in that case, I pray that something in this will cause rain to fall on the seed and that you will cause that seed to grow. To you who sits on the throne, we give honor, glory and praise today for who you are and all that you have done. In Jesus' name. Amen


  1. I find the Jonah story very interesting, too. It's a lot like many of us who say we want all to be saved, we wish it were so, but the smallest part of us feels like the elder son in the prodigal story or the early workers in the vineyard.

    I did check out Joseph Herrin's blog. Is this a new direction for him or has he always believed this? I haven't really read his blogs in the past.

  2. Hi, Ma,

    We become self-righteous and don't want those who have not been righteous like us (HA!) to be recipients of God's grace, forgiveness and loving kindness.

    I believe Joseph has believed this since early 2000s (at least). You should read his most recent The more I read and study, the more I think he is correct. I've always had a hard time reconciling a loving, just God with "eternal" damnation and punishment. You will want to see what he says today.