Saturday 1 December 2012

BibleCentral: Four lessons from Jonah Chapter 1

1. Revelation: God speaks

The book begins and ends with God speaking audibly to Jonah. What an amazing privilege to hear the voice of the Creator!

Yet Jonah’s response is to run. He flees from the “presence of the LORD” (that expression occurs three times in this chapter; twice in verse 3 and once again in verse 10). It is silly to think that Jonah could ever escape God’s presence, and he knows that. God is the God of heaven, who made the sea and dry land (verse 9). Where could he possibly hide in all of God’s own creation?

Still, what Jonah is running away from is God’s word. He willfully ignores and disobeys God’s instruction to preach to the city of Nineveh.

2. Mission: God sends

The power of God’s mission lies not in the messenger but in the message of the gospel. God used Jonah – a self-centred, rebellious prophet – which means that God can certainly use you and me to speak the gospel to our friends …and even to our enemies.

3. Repentance: Turning away from idols to face God

The sailors turn from worshipping pagan idols to worshipping the true and living God. Repentance in the bible is not an emotional response whereby we feel rotten about something horrible we’ve done. Repentance is a complete radical change in life direction – from idolatry to true worship, from self-centredness to God-centredness.

Aside from the sailors, don’t miss the fact that Jonah needed to repent. The great storm and the great big fish were signs sent from God to show us that even the prophet Jonah needed to repent from his selfish actions and turn to face the true and living God.

4. Salvation: A better Jonah

Verse 15 reads, “So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.” Although the sailors did everything they could to try and row back to land, in the end, the only solution that worked was the one Jonah himself proposed in verse 12, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea.”

As Christians, we have been saved from an even fiercer storm – the punishment of God’s anger for our sin. We can try to make up for it, but like the sailors, often times we find that even our sincerest efforts do more harm than good. Jesus came to take our punishment on our behalf. He is the better Jonah, who went to the cross willingly, not willfully; who died for our sins and not his own.

Jesus is a better Jonah – and a better Saviour – who faced the storm of God’s wrath because he was doing the Father’s will; and because he loved us even while we were his enemies.

No comments: