“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:1-3 NKJV
Well, this book jumps right in and so will we – This is the typical Jonah and the whale devotional and a moment to think about obedience to God and what He is asking of you. Let’s start with that very point (just like today’s reading): what is it that God is asking of you?
Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is from the book of Jonah chapters 1-4 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).
God was asking, Jonah to go prophesy to people Jonah didn’t like. Jonah knew they would respond and turn to God and he was acting out of his own opinion to them when he wanted them to instead experience God’s wrath. This isn’t the only time Jonah was mentioned in the Bible and not the complete sum of his prophetic ministry. In 2 Kings 14:25-27 we see God spoke “through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher” and foretold the restoration of the ancient boundaries of the kingdom. Some believe he was a contemporary (or just preceded) Hosea and Amos. The man understood His roll and understood what God was going to do. Yet, when confronted with the task of preaching to Nineveh, he still decided to run. Although this was obviously the wrong thing to do – to run from God; God still used it and it became an allegory or parable in prophesy of the Messiah! (as seen in Matthew 16:4, Luke 11:29-30)
God has many things, and different things (respectively) that He asks us to be obedient with. But all of us who claim to be born again have this objective in common: “because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 NKJV
So again – let me address the complacency if those who do not think they must overcome ‘continuing in sin’ and/or living in a state of compromise. First, we can only become Holy through grace, but we must be willing to acknowledge what is an actual sin then try to NOT sin and ask God to change us. Dear Lord, open eyes and give revelation of these sins so we may be purified and abandon these sins with your help. In Jesus Name, Amen. So we are called to stop sinning.
Let me interject a story – I was addicted to cigarettes. I prayed for deliverance. Deliverance did not come immediately. There was no swoosh of power over me and the urge to smoke and the withdrawal when I went too long without a cigarette did not go away. I will shake and cry (literally) and light up a cigarette to relieve the withdrawal symptoms and be raging angry. Why would God NOT free me when I wanted to be free so badly? Then one day I figured out I was delivered and I just had not notice because I lit up another cigarette, and every time I lit another I was falling further away from this deliverance. God did His part and delivered me the first time I asked – but I smoked again. I fully believe if I stopped right then, I would not have had as much of a struggle. BUT, I gave myself the struggle – as I continued in sin hoping grace would abound (but we all know what Roman’s 6 says – God forbids it)! So. I literally just had to stop smoking. As I stopped – God gave me the grace to quit and moment by moment He delivered me from temptation, from withdrawals, and from all the associated things.
Most people can, therefore relate to Jonah’s plight in relation to the cherished sin, the one they do not want to give up, the one they may even refuse to acknowledge is a sin. The one we want God to do something about because we do not want to take responsibility for and take any action on our own. But faith requires an action, dear brother and sister. So we tell God, “No”, we compound sin with the sin of disobedience. And like Adam and Eve with their first sin and then they hid from God – our reaction to sinning is hiding from God. So, Jonah fled the presence of the Lord and we do the same to some degree or another. Maybe it is to just not push as deep of go the extra steps for God like we used to. Maybe it is a full retreat like Jonah onto a boat headed in the other direction.
God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force us to do His will. This is true even in light of Jonah and the whale or in light of Saul on the road to Damascus – which are two times I have heard people say God will make you do it His way no matter what. They fail to understand context and how God’s nature is consistent and not contradictory. In Jonah’s case – the whale was a pause, a still in the storm, a time-out… it was mercy to give time to repent – which is what Jonah did.
So if you are continuing in sin – once it has been exposed to you and nothing bad happened, and God’s wrath was not unleashed and no lesson was taught – you might be in the belly of the whale. He is giving you a time of grace to repent. Do not harden your heart. Jonah was spit out by the whale because he repented. You may find you are never spit out. You may be in there talking away to God thinking you ar ok in your disobedience – but you are slowly being digested and destroyed. You are not headed to live – but to death. You are indeed at risk of turning your back on God. It is the first step on a slippery slope away that you do not want to go down – and it goes down fast. Trust me. I have been there.
Repent – be vomited up on shore! Please! Make the right choice! God will work all things out for your (and everyone’s) good. But you need to repent!
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
MEMORY WORK: James 4:7
NKJV – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
NAS – “Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
ESV – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
NLT – “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
NIV – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!
BIBLE READING: Jonah 1-4 NKJV
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
The Storm at Sea
4 But the Lord [a]sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.
5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten [b]the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”
7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”
9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear [c]the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
Jonah Thrown into the Sea
10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and [d]throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.
Jonah’s Prayer and Deliverance
17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah’s Prayer and God’s Answer
2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the [e]moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.
7 “When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own [f]Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”
10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Jonah Preaches at Nineveh
3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, [g]a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
The People of Nineveh Believe
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his [h]nobles, saying,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
Jonah’s Anger and God’s Kindness
4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
4 Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. 6 And the Lord God prepared a [i]plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah [j]was very grateful for the plant. 7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which [k]came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, 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 1:4 Lit. hurled
- Jonah 1:5 Lit. from upon them
- Jonah 1:9 Heb. YHWH
- Jonah 1:12 Lit. hurl
- Jonah 2:6 foundations or bases
- Jonah 2:8 Or Lovingkindness
- Jonah 3:3 Exact meaning unknown
- Jonah 3:7 Lit. great ones
- Jonah 4:6 Heb. kikayon, exact identity unknown
- Jonah 4:6 Lit. rejoiced with great joy
- Jonah 4:10 Lit. was a son of a night