“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”
Jonah 1:1-17 NLT
Jonah, the prophet, was sent by God to Nineveh to proclaim the judgment of God. The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians were cruel and Jonah despised them. Rather than going northeast to Nineveh, Jonah decided to run west to Tarshish. As you see in the story above, this did not go as planned. Jonah could not escape the call of God and the command of God. We see Jonah's humanness. He, like us, had a moment of pout and rebellion. He did not want God to show mercy to this wicked city. However, God was gonna get him to Nineveh one way or another. This is where the famed story unfolds. God sent a storm that almost cost the whole ships crew their lives and it forced Jonah overboard into the sea. There, God had prepared a fish (a whale) that swallowed Jonah. He spent three days and nights inside this great fish. One can only imagine what this was like. A most terrifying experience for sure. This was the perfect place to get Jonahs attention. Indeed it did.
What is God calling you to do that you keep rebelling against? What extraordinary measures will He take to get your obedience?
Curtis R. Norris
Rev. Curtis Norris