Google+ 11/16/12 No Whale Experience Today!

Jonah 1:1-3

 

The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai:  “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh.

Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.

He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.

He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. 

 

As you read this Scripture today, it would be easy to respond with "I already know this story!"  I hope that you do.  Let's look at it from a fresh perspective and see what God is teaching us.  Nineveh was the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire and was founded by Nimrod, who was a son of Ham.  His kingdom began in Babel, so you probably know where this is going!  Nineveh was just about the most corrupt place anyone could choose to be.  It was a beautiful city with 15 main gates and a 50 foot wall completely surrounding the inner city for a total of eight miles.  Jonah is the son of Amittai (which means truth).  We know nothing else about this prophet.  It appears that Jonah's entire mission in life was to save Nineveh and he almost missed it.  There is a sermon in there for another day!  God came to Jonah and orders him to Nineveh.  He doesn't ask if it is okay.  God tells Jonah to arise immediately and go to Nineveh.  God even tells him why, as if Jonah didn't know.  Nineveh had such a reputation that Jonah would probably have heard many stories.  God tells Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh how wicked they are.  God then gives Jonah the task of explaining to the Ninevites that they are cursed and God is going to pass judgment on them.  Jonah promptly proceeds to buy passage on a ship going exactly the opposite direction to Tarshish.  The Scripture says that Jonah does this in hopes of fleeing the Lord.  Let's summarize.  God gives Jonah a direct order with directions and how and what to say.  Jonah willfully ignores God's order and goes in exactly the opposite direction, attempting to flee God.  Sound familiar?  It sure does to me.  There have been several times in my life when God could not have been more clear about what He wanted me to do.  God gave me the same detail He gave Jonah.  In my Christian wisdom (not!), I turned and ran with haste in exactly the opposite direction.  I then completed the last step and tried my best to hide from God.  Why do we do this?  God's will is hard.  Some of the things God asks us to do are not at all comfortable for us.  Jesus discovered that in the Garden of Gethsemane and cried out to God if it was possible to remove the burden of His upcoming crucifixtion.  Sometimes, we simply do not want to fight for God.  Yes, I said that out loud.  This is why it is so important to read the Scripture daily.  Jonah's story has been told numerous times in many different ways.  I must confess that my favorite is the Veggie Tales version!  Many times we look at Jonah and the whale as a cute story and miss the point completely.  God commands, we obey.  Pretty simple isn't it?  Some days, it is really hard for us, but like Jesus, we must acknowledge that God's will must be done.  When we are ready to run the opposite direction from God, let's remember Jonah.  Remember how this story ends.  God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh a second time.  This time he goes, after having the "whale experience."  Wouldn't you?!  The entire nation of Nineveh repents.  Even though Jonah is not happy about God's forgiveness to anyone but the Jewish nation, Jonah's eventual obedience saves an entire city and race of people.  Yes, they live happily ever after and God removes His judgment from a grateful nation.  As you walk today with God, listen to His instructions for you and don't run the opposite direction.  If you do, God promises a "whale experience" that you won't like.  Instead, proclaim "I love you, Lord" and go as quickly to your Nineveh today as possible.  God will be waiting there for you.  I promise.