When we think of the book of Jonah, what first comes to mind? Jonah and a big puking whale? As miraculous as that was, (not the puking part mind you, but the “in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” survival part – 1:17, 2:10). There is something much more spectacular if we were to take one step back and see the story framed from a distance.
To sum it up in one word, “Sovereign.” Supreme or ultimate in authority and power.
God is Sovereign.
He does what He wants. When He wants. How He wants and with whom He wants. And yes, where He wants. God has it all covered!
Jonah was a reluctant missionary prophet, (a contemporary of the book of 2 Kings). He was initially unwilling to go and do as God said. He didn’t like the Ninevites. God was sending him to the capital of the pagan, Gentile, powerful, Assyrian empire—his enemies. After the thrown overboard and fish excursions, when he finally got to Nineveh (big bad, icky, mean, and evil place) he simply declares his 5-word sermon (FINE! I’ll go. I’ll speak. But I’m keeping it short!) “40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (3:4).
The Ninevites repent and God honored their repentance, and they find His mercy.
In this story, these four short chapters (48 verses) declare how God commissions. How He patiently waits. Shows His divine steering. His lavishing 2nd chance. Not to mention (but I will) how He provides visual aids to get Jonah’s attention (disastrous storm, throwing sailors, fish, plant, worm, and a scorching east wind). All flowing out from His character of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Ex 34:6b). And yes, His justice to a person—and ultimately, a people group.*
How many times have we been reluctant for any reason to obey God? Oh, we have our excuses. We draw out the lengthy diagramed blueprint of “WHY” we can’t or why (without saying it out loud)—we won’t. May we (like Jonah) know, God means what He says, “You can do it My way or My way.” It is His way.
Yet may we notice too, God writes ‘turn around’ narratives (even if He must interject Himself boldly into the story) and He graciously offers second chances within re-commissioning (3:1-2).
God’s commissioning. Patience. Divine steering. His most gracious 2nd chances. His beautiful (non-coincidence) visual aids.
Does this resonate? It does for me.
God is Sovereign.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds – Hebrews 10:24).
*The Ninevites chose to go back into their sinful lifestyles, despite the very generous reaching of Yahweh. He patiently waited for them to return—for a bit. He waited 150(ish) years. Then He sent another prophet, Nahum. Jonah was initially unwilling, going to a willing people. Nahum who was willing, went to (a grown to be) unwilling people. Nineveh was ultimately destroyed. God is Sovereign.