And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
We love to rebel. We thrive off of knowing that we are able to go against authority in some way. When we were little it was mom or dad telling us no cookies before dinner; we smirk and think “I wasn’t even planning on that, but now… COOKIES!” Our small, grimy hands would reach into the cookie jar and grab as much as we could hold.
Of course we would get caught, and there would be some kind of discipline in response to our rebellion. But no matter how many times they told us no, we still wanted cookies.
This is a glimpse into what was happening with Jonah and God. Jonah is famous in the Bible for flat out dissing God and ignoring all his commands. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and he immediately went… the wrong way. Jonah ignored what God was telling him to do, and took a boat toward Tarshish.
Rocking the Boat
One of the intriguing parts about this whole story is that by the end of the trip, the sailors on the boat ended up committing themselves to the Lord. In verse 16, it shows the conversion of these men because of Jonah’s actions. In verse 5 it says that these men were afraid of the storm the Lord had sent and began crying out to their own gods. But by the end, they were offering a sacrifice to God.
God worked through Jonah’s rebellion show the sailors who the one true God is.
Comfort and Content
Before God’s command, Jonah was comfortable. When God called Jonah to go to preach to Nineveh, he was reluctant to change his ways. Jonah’s rebellion was for his own comfort and his own security. Nineveh was a brutal place that was filled with idolatry and ruthless conquest. It makes sense why Jonah didn’t want to go to this place. Yet, Jonah got a direct command from God to go to this place.
This story is just another testament how God calls us to live an uncomfortable life for His glory and expansion of His kingdom here on Earth.
We are too frequently comfortable with our lives and we are able to say no to God in favor of our luxury. We are reluctant to say, “Yes” in obeying God’s command in our lives. Just like Jonah, we are scared to give up our comfort.
We are hesitant to share the Gospel no matter what the cost. People think the story of Jonah is one of judgment, anger and fear. While those are themes within this story, the four chapters of this book are so revealing of God’s sovereignty even within brokenness. God’s will is to be done no matter what the circumstances. This story shows how willing God is to use us in His plan. Even though Jonah ran away, even though he rebelled, God used Jonah through his brokenness and his unwillingness.
By the end of the story, Jonah still doesn’t understand God’s mercy and compassion. However, through his misunderstanding and even his attempt to run away, God still used him to instill growth for the Kingdom’s cause.
This account of a reluctant servant of God is a reminder that through our brokenness, through our hesitation, God will still use us and He will pursue us. God chased after Jonah and God chases after us, no matter our reluctance and doubt.
May God who loves you and pursues you, make himself ever so evident within your life and heart. May you draw near to His heart with boldness and courage.