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How Did God Use Jonah’s Disobedience in the Bible?

It took a supernatural occurrence of liberation to get Jonah to do as God had told him to do. As a prophet, he was committed to submitting to God's Word, however, he had attempted to get away from his obligations, but God’s plan prevailed.

Contributing Writer
Mar 15, 2022
How Did God Use Jonah’s Disobedience in the Bible?

Jonah sinned and ran from God then the sailors were spared and came to God.

Jonah was called by God to preach to Nineveh, the main city in Assyria, the rising force of Jonah's day. Within 50 years, Nineveh would turn into the capital of the immense Assyrian Empire.

Jonah does not say a lot regarding Nineveh's underhandedness, yet the prophet Nahum gives us more understanding.

He says that Nineveh was at real fault for fiendish plots against God (Nahum 1:9), abuse of the vulnerable (Nahum 2:12), savagery in war (Nahum 2:12-13), prostitution, idolatry, and black magic (witchcraft) (Nahum 3:4).

God Gives Jonah a Difficult Task

God advised Jonah to go to Nineveh, around 500 miles east of Israel, to caution possible judgment and to announce that there would be benevolence and pardoning assuming that the people of Nineveh would repent.

Nineveh was a strong and underhanded city. Jonah grew up despising the Assyrians and dreading their practices. His contempt was so deep that he did not want them to accept God's kindness. Jonah was really apprehensive that the people would actually repent (Jonah 4:2-3).

Jonah's demeanor is illustrative of Israel's hesitance to impart God's affection and leniency to other people, despite the fact that this was their undeniable mission (Genesis 12:3). The Israelites, similar to Jonah, did not want non-Jews (Gentiles) to acquire God's approval.

Jonah was apprehensive. He realized that God had a particular occupation for him to do, however, he would have rather not done it. When God directs us through his Word, some of the time we run in dread, stating that God is asking a lot from us. Dread made Jonah run.

In any case, running caused him problems. Eventually, he learned that it is ideal to do what God asks to begin with. Be that as it may, by then he had acquired an exorbitant cost for running. It is far superior to comply with God’s plans from the beginning.

Prior to their arrival and settling in the Promised Land, the Israelites had lived a nomadic life. They meandered from one spot to another, looking for pastures that were good for their flocks.

In spite of the fact that they were not a nautical group, the area along the Mediterranean Sea and the adjoining sea powers of Phoenicia and Philistia permitted a lot of contact with ships and mariners. The ship that Jonah sailed on was presumably a huge vessel with a deck.

Jonah's noncompliance with God imperiled the existence of the ship’s crew. We have an extraordinary obligation to comply with God's Word in light of the fact that our wrongdoing and defiance will hurt others around us.

While the tempest seethed, Jonah was snoozing soundly in the ship’s hold. Indeed, even as he ran from God, he obviously did not harbor a feeling of remorse. Yet, the shortfall of culpability is not dependably a gauge of whether we are making the wisest decision.

Since we can deny reality, we cannot gauge submission by our sentiments. All things considered; we should contrast what we do with God's principles for living.

The ship’s crew cast lots to track down the blameworthy individual by depending on their superstitious notions to offer them the response. Their framework worked, however simply because God stepped in to tell Jonah that he was unable to run from him.

You cannot look for God's adoration and run from him simultaneously. Jonah before long understood that regardless of where he went, he was unable to move away from God.

Jonah’s Disobedience Only Delayed God’s Plan

However, before Jonah could get back to God, he needed to quit fleeing from him. We ought to ask ourselves, what has God advised us to do?

Assuming that we want a greater amount of God's affection and power, we should complete the obligations that he gives us. We cannot say that we really trust in God if we decline to do what he says.

Jonah realized that he had rebelled and that the tempest was his shortcoming, however, he said nothing until the ship’s crew cast lots and the part fell on him (Jonah 1:7).

Then, at that point, he was able to give his life to save the mariners. Jonah's disdain for the Assyrians had impacted his point of view.

By attempting to save Jonah's life, the pagan mariners showed more sympathy than Jonah, for Jonah would have rather not cautioned the individuals of Nineveh of the coming judgment of God.

Believers ought to be embarrassed when unbelievers show more concern and empathy than they do. God wants us to be more compassionate about all of humanity, the lost and the saved.

Jonah had resisted God. While he was fleeing, he halted and submitted to God. Then, at that point, the ship’s crew started to revere God since they saw the tempest calm down. God can utilize even our missteps to help other people come to know him.

It seemed improbable that the agnostic mariners did what the whole country of Israel would not do, implored God, and promised to serve him.

Many have attempted to rationalize this book, yet the Bible does not portray it as a fantasy or a legend.

We ought not to rationalize this supernatural occurrence as though we could single out which of the wonders in the Bible that we want to accept and which ones we do not.

This sort of demeanor permits us to scrutinize any piece of the Bible, making us lose our confidence in it as God's valid and dependable Word.

God’s Plans Will Always Be Accomplished

What Jonah experienced, foreshadowed what Christ would go through as a demonstration of his death and resurrection (Matthew 12:39-40).

At the beginning of chapter 1, we see Jonah as the protesting prophet. He did not want to go to Nineveh as directed by God. It is noted in verse three that he “rose up to flee…from the Presence of the Lord.”

Jonah had sinned by running from God. However, we can see that although Jonah had sinned, the sailors prayed to God and were spared. Now we come to chapter two where Jonah prays from inside the great fish.

This is a petition of thanksgiving, not a supplication for liberation. Jonah was grateful that he had not been drowned. He was conveyed in a most staggering manner and was overpowered that he had gotten away from an unavoidable death.

Indeed, even from inside the fish, God heard Jonah’s petition. We can pray no matter where we are at and whenever, and God will hear us. Our wrongdoing is never too incredible nor is our issue ever excessively hard for God to deal with.

Jonah said, "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord" (Jonah 2:7). We regularly act the same way.

When life is working out in an effective way, we will more often than not underestimate God, yet when we lose trust in our life, we then shout out to him. This sort of relationship with God can result in just a conflicting spiritual life.

A steady everyday dedication to God advances a strong relationship with him. We are to look to God during both the great and the terrible occasions, and we will have a more grounded spiritual life (Psalm 18:6; 130:1; 142:3).

The individuals who worship false idols are forsaking any expected leniency from the Lord. Any object that we put our devotion in that replaces God is a lying vanity.

We mislead ourselves with something that is foolish and empty. We should ensure that nothing assumes God's legitimate position in our lives.

Jonah was clearly not in a situation to make a deal with God. In lieu, he expressed gratitude toward God for saving his life.

Our inconveniences should cause us to stick firmly to God, and not try to negotiate a deal to get out of the torment.

What Does This Mean?

We can give thanks to him and offer our praise to him for how he has helped us by his mercy and grace, and for loving toward us.

It took a supernatural occurrence of liberation to get Jonah to do as God had told him to do. As a prophet, he was committed to submitting to God's Word, however, he had attempted to get away from his obligations.

He currently swore to keep his promises (Deuteronomy 23:21; Psalm 50:14). Jonah's story started with disobedience yet a more noteworthy misfortune would have occurred assuming God had permitted him to continue to run.

When we realize that God wants us to accomplish something, we ought not to run. God may not stop and help us as he did with Jonah.

For further reading:

Why Is the Story and Meaning of Jonah and the Whale Often Mistaken?

Can We Really Run Away from God?

What Are Prophets in the Bible? Do Prophets Still Exist Today?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/aradaphotography

Chris SwansonChris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.

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