Insights on Today's Reading
Today you will read one of the most interesting and easy books to read in the Bible. Jonah brings to us one of the great intriguing miracles of the Bible, being swallowed by a "prepared fish," not a whale. You will see several things God "prepared" to accomplish His purposes and plans. You may also be surprised by Jonah's real reason for trying to "flee from the presence of the Lord." Science sometimes tries to make fun of this book, but Jesus spoke of Jonah as being very real and Christ showed no doubt whatsoever of Jonah's experiences, Matthew 12:40.
Jonah 1 - Jonah is a prophet of God who was called to a mission to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians. God wanted Jonah to "cry out against the city." Jonah foolishly turned away and tried to "flee from the presence of the Lord!" If he was a prophet, how did he think he could ever get away from God's presence?! He paid for a ride on a boat to Tarshish, possibly on the coast of Spain. But God wouldn't let him get away. The Lord sent a storm that caused the sailors to pray to their gods and they threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. When they realized Jonah was the cause of their troubles, they prayed to Jonah's God and then threw him overboard.* To their surprise, and I'm sure to Jonah too, a great fish came and swallowed Jonah!
Jonah 2 - Here is a great example of "you can pray anywhere!" Jonah's prayer from inside the belly of this fish is the content of this chapter. Jonah recognizes God's control over everything and submits to God's will. He ends his prayer with what some call the theme of the Bible: "Salvation is of the Lord." God had the fish spit Jonah back onto dry land.
Jonah 3 - God doesn't change His will. He gave Jonah the same "marching orders" as He did in chapter one. Now, Jonah obeys! He preached an eight-word sermon: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." That was all it took for the king and all the people to humble themselves and cry out to God for His mercy. And God heard their plea and withdrew His judgment.
Jonah 4 - Now you will read why Jonah didn't want to preach to the Ninevites. He knew God was a merciful God, and if these people repented, God would not judge them. He didn't rejoice in their salvation. He wished their judgment! God spent time making Jonah realize that these people needed the Lord as much as anyone, and if they repented, He would forgive!
*I often chuckle to think of what the sailors had to face when they finally got to their destination. They had neither cargo nor passenger on board! Perhaps they would be known in the future as the "Overboard Cruise Lines." They certainly could guarantee "an in-depth experience of the Mediterranean Sea!"
A further note: How do you relate to Jonah's attitude toward wicked people? Do you wish their judgment or do you wish their salvation?
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: email@example.com | Phone: 856.981.7288