“Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God-trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us.” – Oswald Chambers
Most everyone is familiar with the book of Jonah. Ask almost any child who goes to church and they’ll tell you Jonah is about a big fish, or a man running from God, or the bad people of Nineveh. In reality, the book of Jonah is about none of those things. Yes, they are all important parts of the story. But the book of Jonah is also about something completely different. Jonah is a book written to reinforce the fact that God is in control.
God speaks the first words in the book of Jonah (1:1-2) and He speaks the final words (4:10-11). Book, kids programs and most sermons focus on the actors of the story (Jonah, fish, etc,). Few resources focus on God as the central character in the book of Jonah. It was God who sent the storm to halt Jonah (1:4). God sent the big fish to save Jonah (1:17). And, lest we forget, it was God who sent Jonah in the first place and God who saved the people of Nineveh. Jonah is a book about God and His sovereignty.
Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. History tells us the Assyrians were brutal people who were notoriously cruel to their enemies. The Assyrians and the Israelites lived in close proximity and had battled in the past. The city of Nineveh was large and was a pagan culture that would not have taken kindly to a Jew telling them to seek salvation from His God. God had pity for the people of Nineveh, who were far from God. God had pity on us when we were far from God
We have to always remember that God has compassion for the lost. We were once like the people of Nineveh. We were like the pagan sailors bowing down to false gods. We were like the wayward prophet knowing of God’s mercy, but not truly knowing His mercy personally. We were lost so God sent His Son Jesus Christ to demonstrate true compassion. This is the epitome of compassion. Jesus gave His life for us and now He expects us to do the same.
Jonah reminds us God is in control. He is sovereign and only He controls outcomes. God didn’t need Jonah to preach to Nineveh, but in His great pleasure He chose to use His sinful servant. God does not need to use us to call His elect to Himself, but it pleases Him to do so. Embrace your calling to share the gospel with the lost, not because you fear a big fish, but because you desire to see God’s glory multiplied on the earth.
God is in control of all things and His control always works for our good. We may not always feel His presence or see His hand, but we can know for a certainty that God is working. God is working because God is always at work. Jonah shows us God’s gracious control to pursue the disobedient prophet, the pagan sailors, and the people of Nineveh. God is working, so ask yourself, “Will you work with Him? Or will you flee from Him?”
- Do you believe God is in control of everything? Explain why you believe He is or is not in control of everything.
- When was the last time you obeyed God even when His order did not make sense to you?