There’s a story about a minister who saw into Heaven. Looking across the way he spotted Jonah, so he made his way over to him to clear up a question that had puzzled him. He said, “Jonah, will you please answer this question once and for all—the Bible says you were in a big fish, but everyone calls it a whale. So which is it—were you in a fish or a whale?” Without hesitation Jonah responded, “I was in disobedience.”
From a child, the story of Jonah has fascinated me. Imagine being on the inside of a big fish for three days and three nights! Let’s dig deeper into Jonah’s life, and examine the circumstances that landed him inside the big fish.
Jonah knew God had called him to go to Ninevah and preach. But Jonah couldn’t stand the Ninevites because of the way they treated the Israelites. He wanted nothing to do with them and certainly didn’t want to help them in any way. He believed they should get everything that was coming to them. However, just because a person feels that way doesn’t mean God shares his feelings. God wanted to extend mercy to the Ninevites and save them from their wicked ways.
As a result of Jonah’s strong opinion, in disobedience, he bought a fare on a ship heading to Tarshish.
Jonah 1:3, But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
While Jonah knew he was directly disobeying what the Lord told him to do, he didn’t count on the damage that would be incurred when he fled the presence of the Lord. Therein lies the power of our choices and decisions to obey.
Our decisions and choices are intertwined with God’s presence in our lives. Negatively, they are like dominos, knocking other things down. Wrong choices or decisions creates messes that can cause storms and turmoil in other peoples’ lives. Then again, your right choices and decisions can lead you and those you are responsible for on a path of blessing and the abundant life that Jesus promised us.
When Jonah was in the belly of the ship among strangers, a fierce storm arose. In an effort to save the people on board, they began to throw everything off the ship. The Bible says they worked harder and more furiouslyto row to shore. However, there was only one thing that could change their outcome—Jonah’s decision to obey God.
What has God told you to do? Imagine the barriers and walls that could begin to fall because of your obedience.
Throughout the Word of God, we see the trait of humility in those who did great exploits for God. Jesus,Moses, Paul, and David exemplified just how powerful it is. The exit out of Jonah’s situation was simply humbling himself before God and doing what God told him to do.
James 4:6, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.
Nobody likes being around someone who is full of pride. The Bible here says that God resists them. Pride will make excuses; humility will make adjustments.
In the beginning, it was pride that caused Jonah to get on that ship. He had plenty of excuses to stay away from Ninevah, but once he humbled himself and made the adjustments, grace was there to meet him.
Although the men on the ship didn’t want to throw Jonah overboard, once they did, the storm immediately ceased, and their lives were forever changed. Because of Jonah’s obedience, they were introduced to a God they had never known.
Desire the presence of God in your life more than anything else. You can’t build a life of obedience tomorrow on a foundation of disobedience today.
We’ve included this message entitled, What To Do When Your Life Is In A Mess. Not everyone will experience the extreme circumstances that Jonah did as a result of disobedience, but fixing it is so simple. This message is available on our app or here for download!