A New Respect

I have new respect for Jonah. Although he is seen as a rebellious, runaway prophet with a selfish and prejudice attitude, I have come to realize that there is more to him than meets the eye.

In 2 Kings 14:23-27, he is described as a servant and prophet of God. His prophecy to Jeroboam II came true, proving he was a true prophet (Deuteronomy 18).  Even in the opening scene we see the words “The Word of the LORD came to Jonah, son of Amittai”. This wording was a phrase used in the Old Testament to indicate that God spoke directly to a prophet or to someone He has called to participate with Him in a special way. That is a big deal.

Jonah has more in common with Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, and Peter than he does with his reputation as a “bad” prophet. More to come on this in a future post.

What I have come to love about him is his honesty and open discussion with God. He told Him exactly what he was feeling and how angry it made him. And God honored Jonah’s struggle to understand His desire to rescue everyone, even the extremely wicked.

Jonah’s faith in God never wavered. Although reluctantly and maybe even unknowingly, in the face of death he was fulfilling the call on his life by professing his faith to the sailors in Jonah 1:9. He did not deny God, as Peter did, but he boldly told the sailors that he worshipped the God who made everything, even the sea and the dry land. Later, in Chapter 4 he confesses to God’s character and nature when he says:

Jonah 4:2(b)

“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

I want to be more like Jonah in this regard. Even when I do not understand God’s ways and especially when I find myself, angry, frustrated, or in a situation that I don’t want be in, I want to have an unwavering faith in Who He Is. I do not want to hide my feelings from God, He already knows how I feel. anyway. I want to work through all of that emotional turmoil in honesty with Him.

It all boils down to dialogue. We see that a lot in Jonah. God desires and even invites us into dialogue with Him. One definition of dialogue is:

“to discuss areas of disagreement frankly in order to resolve them”

We can’t resolve our issues if we don’t discuss them 😊

INTERESTING FACTS (not related to current topic, just fun facts with one assumption.)

Things I noticed in 2 Kings during my daily reading plan that popped out as they relate to Jonah. I have learned to slow down in the hard parts of Scripture like genealogy and history. There are so many little interesting tidbits that enhance the understanding of Scripture.

  • Jonah was a true prophet and servant of God (2 King 14:23-27)
  • He prophesied victory for Jeroboam II in establishing the boundaries of Israel.
  • Jeroboam II was a bad king (you might even describe him as wicked.)
  • Jeroboam II was the son of King Jehoash.
  • Jehoash was the king who cried to Elisha for help in the battle against Aram.
  • Aram later fell to the Assyrians aka Ninevites (Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.)
  • Jehoash is the king that Elisha instructed to shoot arrows out the window as a sign for victory in battle (but Jehoash stopped at three and defeated the enemy only three times.)
  • It is very possible that Jonah was born before Elisha died, which opens up a lot of other possibilities 😊

Running Away

Do you ever want to run away when you screw up in life? I do. Which means I want to run away a lot! 😊

What if the view that others have of us was based on that one time that we really, really messed up? What if there was even a story written about it that became so popular, it became required reading and it was handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years?

No one recalls or remembers the good things we did, the people we impacted or the lives that were changed. They just know about that one time when we messed up and wanted to run away. The generations that followed only hear about our angry outburst and stubborn attitude. They only know us as someone who swallows up anything and eventually what we devour makes us so sick we vomit it out.

Jonah and Big Fish have both received bad reps from one snapshot of time. Hardly seems fair, doesn’t it?

Do we see Big Fish as the obedient servant that God sends to rescue one of His own? Or do we see him as the enemy that swallows up just about anything, including bad tasting prophets?

Do we see Jonah as the rebellious, single minded, selfish, and angry prophet that tried to run to away from God? Or do we see him as a faithful prophet that God trusted, struggling to come to terms with an exceedingly difficult task?

My views and prejudice against Jonah have really taken a pounding this go around in the Book of Jonah. I have failed to see the difficulty of his task. From what I know so far, he was the only prophet that was ever instructed to physically go into enemy territory and to preach directly to them (and it was not a “make-me-feel-good-live-life-and-be-happy” sermon!) Other prophets preached to the enemy nations but did so from afar.

Jonah was sent to a nation that he knew would soon destroy and overtake his own country. He was aware of the prophetic sermons of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah, who were probably all contemporaries at some point. He might have known that he would forever be an outcast at home if he went on this mission. Trouble was coming and he was being sent to the troublemakers!

Think about that. God spoke to Jonah and gave him an extremely hard assignment. He knew it was hard when He assigned it. But he also knew His prophet. He knew Jonah would struggle with the assignment and He knew that he would need some rescuing as he came to terms with God’s plan. God never abandoned Jonah. He was with him every step of the way.

As I reflect on this today and as I step back to get a bird’s eye view of the story, I see my own stubborn, know-it-all views and judging of a person based on one small snapshot of his life. And once again, I am overwhelmed by God’s gentleness, His mercy, His patience, and His Sovereignty over all things.

The beginning of the book illustrates His Sovereignty and Power, the middle of book reveals His patience, the end of the book reveals His gentleness and mercy.

I used to be frustrated being in Jonah so much, but God’s patience with me has been amazing. This book is fantastic, and it has so many themes to peel back layer by layer.

I love You, El Shaddai!