Get Renew.org Weekly Emails

Want fresh teachings and disciple making content? Sign up to receive a weekly newsletters highlighting our resources and new content to help equip you in your disciple making journey. We’ll also send you emails with other equipping resources from time to time.

5 minutes
Download

What Jonah Teaches Me About God and Myself

The book of Jonah teaches us a lot about the character and nature of God, and it also provides us a great opportunity to look in a mirror and examine our own character. I believe the book is a true and literal narrative, rather than a presentation of a metaphorical character named Jonah. He is an actual prophet to Jeroboam II mentioned in 2 Kings 14. He was commissioned to speak the word of the Lord but instead wanted to quit the ministry. Yet over and over, God gave him the opportunity to repent and submit.

When we read the book of Job, we noted that the fourth and final friend who came to speak to him—Elihu—presented suffering differently than the other three speakers. Rather than asserting that suffering is always a consequence of wickedness, Elihu said suffering could be an instructive tool God uses to draw people closer to himself. He said,

“God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times—to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them.” (Job 33:29-30)

This is an accurate commentary of what God did with Jonah.


“The book of Jonah teaches us a lot about the character and nature of God, and it also provides us a great opportunity to look in a mirror and examine our own character.”


Even after Jonah quit and ran from his calling by boarding a ship to Tarshish, God still used Jonah to turn the sailors toward himself. This is a great testament to the grace of God, that he would still create a testimony through Jonah’s action in this way. Not only was Jonah running from his calling, but he was also endangering others in his sin. Sinking men pull others down with them, and our sins don’t affect just us.

God rescued Jonah, again giving him the opportunity to return to his calling. Sometimes it takes a life-changing or even life-threatening event to bring about change in our lives. And still, repentance isn’t just a means for rescue. It should prepare us for good works. God’s grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness so we can be “eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

God allowed Jonah to see Ninevah’s repentance in hopes that Jonah might rejoice at the mercy shown and walk in his calling. Rather than praising God for his goodness and grace, Jonah was angry about it and used God’s character as an indictment against him. In his anger, Jonah quoted Exodus 34:6–7:

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2)


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


Once, twice, even three times God tried to turn Jonah back to his purpose. That is his nature. He loves us and pursues us. Just because we’re ready to quit on him doesn’t make him ready to quit on us. Rather, he acts to turn us back.

“The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:6)

Further, he loves all people—even the sailors who didn’t know him, even the Assyrians who were historic enemies of Israel.

Jonah gives us a mirror for self-reflection. Do I love people like God loves people? Do I care more about my comfort or lost souls? A mark of spiritual maturity is the understanding that it’s not about me, my preferences, my comfort: my life is a channel of God’s love, grace, and truth to reach the lost wherever he sends me.


Excerpted from Tina Wilson’s 365-day chronological Bible study Step into Scripture: A Daily Journey to Understanding Your Bible.

Get Renew.org Weekly Emails

Want fresh teachings and disciple making content? Sign up to receive a weekly newsletters highlighting our resources and new content to help equip you in your disciple making journey. We’ll also send you emails with other equipping resources from time to time.

You Might Also Like