Jonah 1

Of all the stories of missionaries, none stands out more than the account of Jonah and his protest against God. Most of us have heard the story plenty of times before, and some of us have felt like Jonah at one point or another in our lives. While this story stands out as a powerful lesson that you can never truly run away from God, I believe there’s an even more powerful lesson illustrated through this story and reiterated throughout scripture.

The account begins with God. It always does. The heart of God is one that constantly breaks as He watches sin work its dreadful destruction upon a world once created perfect. Sin entered by way of a simple ploy of Satan.

“He led {men} to doubt the word of God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and the night of woe settled down upon the world. The earth was dark through misapprehension of God.” – Desire of Ages p. 21

At the heart of the controversy between God and Satan, good and evil, right and wrong, is the understanding of the character of God. The story of Jonah shows us that it is not merely the “lost” and the “heathen” whose minds are darkened through the misapprehension of God, but also, sadly, the messenger. It is not only possible, but fearfully likely that even among those who proclaim the message of a soon-coming Savior, there is a great misunderstanding of the heart and purpose of God.

God’s message to Jonah, put simply, was this: “Go tell the inhabitants Nineveh that their wickedness has come to my attention.” Jonah, however, refuses to be the message bearer, and rather than do as God bids, he boards a ship headed in the opposite direction. God sends the storm, the sailors pray to their gods for deliverance and find none, they discover Jonah is responsible for the storm and demand an explanation. Jonah declares that he ran from God’s call. Final answer? Throw Jonah into the sea and all will be well. Still they try to row to shore, not wanting to be responsible for his death by drowning in the sea, but all their efforts are of no avail. They toss Jonah overboard, and the sea immediately is calm.

By the end of the first chapter, Jonah becomes the accidental missionary, and this brings us to the point that deserves to be made over and over when looking at this story: God will be glorified. Jonah, in his selfish, prejudiced heart, did not want to travel to Ninevah to deliver God’s message to Israel’s enemy. God’s objective is to save Nineveh, but Jonah’s heart and mind are darkened; he doesn’t understand the loving mercy of God, who is unwilling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. His heart does not beat in echo of the Divine rhythm. He finds no desire within himself correlating to the desire of God for the salvation of the wicked. He runs away. Nevertheless, God is glorified. In spite of the wickedness in Jonah’s heart, God opens the net of salvation even wider. The chapter closes with the sailors, who have been confronted with the inadequacy and incapability of their false gods, falling down on their knees before the true God, offering sacrifices in His name, and making vows to serve Him.

As Paul says, where sin abounds, there is even more grace. Even in our greatest unfaithfulness to God, He can still bring glory to His name. Even if we run away from the work He has for us to do, He will ensure that it is completed on an even broader scale. Satan may conspire to influence man to be driven and derided by selfish motives, but God will still bring about good, more than recovering what was lost.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.

Click here for Jonah part 2.

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