Jonah Says to Worship Our God of Mercy
"Should I not pity Nineveh . . . in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left-and much livestock?"-Jonah 4:11, emphasis added
Out of the countless lives that have crossed the pages of time, we find two blips on the radar screen of eternity--seemingly insignificant to all but God. Eight centuries before Christ, a great storm swirled around a nameless boat somewhere in the Mediterranean. By all counts, it should have swamped that boat and sent the nameless mariners to the black depth of the sea to await judgment day.
Amazingly, these sinking sailors did not perish. Rather, they were miraculously rescued from harm by the Master of the ocean, earth, and skies. Of all places--sleeping in the dark, creaking, hold was an evangelist. Shaken awake by the terrified captain, questioned by shouted words over the fury of the storm, he spoke. And in Jonah 1:9 the disobedient rebel showed his heart. Asked to go east, he turned west. Told to rescue inland Ninevah, he sought the sea route to the furthermost western city known in his day--Tarshish, in western Spain.
In Jonah 1:3-9, we learn that there is folly in running from God, but power in speaking for God. It is almost humorous that, in spite of his persistence in disobeying the Lord and the breach of divine fellowship that it must have produced, Jonah gave a powerful testimony. Though Jonah's actions were wrong, his heart couldn't hide the Word of God for long--it just came out. And in all His power, God spoke to them. You see, the Scriptures are God speaking. When you share them, the voice of God is unleashed. The Bible is the unsheathed sword of the Spirit. So he said to them, "I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land" (v. 9). Nine words that strike harder than the gale howling about them. It penetrates deeper than the cold sea spraying their faces and stinging their eyes. For you see, the Word can penetrate the very soul of mankind. He may have been endeavoring to resign his commission, but he could not change his heart, which remained that of a true prophet. So he pointed these mariners to the only Lord God.[v]
We need to understand this truth: what God is going to do, He will do. If He has determined to save Mary Jones, God will save Mary Jones. If He has determined to save John Smith, God will save John Smith. Moreover, those whom He saves will never perish; neither will anyone pluck them out of Christ's hand (John 10:28). But note that God can do this through the obedience of His children, as He does later with Nineveh through Jonah, in which case they share in the blessing. Or He can do it through His children's disobedience, as we see here through Jonah's selfishness, in which case they miss the blessing. Either way, God blesses those whom He will bless, but the one case involves happiness for His people while the other involves misery.
Which represents your case? Are you resisting Him? Are you refusing His Great Commission? Or are you obeying Him in this and in all other matters?
Perhaps you are not yet a Christian. If not, learn from God's wonderful grace to the sailors. You have not yet perished in your godless state because God, who made the sea around you and the dry land on which you walk, preserves you. But do not remain indifferent to Him; turn to Him on the basis of the perfect sacrifice for sin made once by His own Son, Jesus Christ. Then follow Him throughout your days.
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