Metaphor or Literal?

The Book of Jonah intrigues me. Some may call it a metaphor, but I believe it literal. For what distance will God go to get our attention? With Jonah, it started with a simple command, “Get up! Go!” Jonah didn’t seem to pay attention to the “why” God wanted him to go to Nineveh, only that he didn’t want to do it. He was afraid! So he did what many of us would do in such a situation, he ran from the Lord. Interesting, that Jonah was a worshiper of Yahweh, but he thought he could hide from Him. When he realized that God had found him (He always knew where he was), he knew what also had to be done. Here is the scriptural account: “Then the Lord hurled a violent wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart. The sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god.” (8) “Then they said to him, ‘Tell us who is to blame for this trouble we’re in. What is your business and where are you from? What is your country and what people are you from?’ He answered them, ‘I’m a Hebrew. I worship Yahweh, the God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land.’ Then the men were even more afraid and said to him, ‘What is this you’ve done?’ The men knew he was fleeing from the Lord’s presence, because he had told them. So they said to him, ‘What should we do to you to calm this sea that’s against us? For the sea was getting worse.’ He answered them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea so it may quiet down for you, for I know that I’m to blame for this violent storm that is against you.” Jonah 1:4-5,8-12 Many things happened with this event. Even though Jonah initially felt fear, he confessed his belief in God, the Maker of the sea and dry land. When he realized that he was the cause of the storm, he had them throw him overboard. They didn’t want to, but in the end, knew that was the only way they would be saved. That day, “The men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” 1:16 They turned to God, when the sea immediately became calm when they threw Jonah overboard. They believed in the God that Jonah worshiped. God spared Jonah, but taught him a lesson for his lack of faith in trusting Him with what He had asked him to do, “Go to Nineveh.” When Jonah was swallowed by the huge fish, he was alive and prayed to God and surrendered to fulfill what God requested of him. So God caused the fish to vomit out Jonah on dry land. The rest of the story is how Jonah proclaimed God’s message to the Ninevites, who heard the message and repented of their ways and sins and God showed His mercy on Nineveh. Jonah learned a lesson that day that still is for us today: God still will go to extremes to enable us to get His message to those He loves and wants to change; God is forgiving even when we try to run from Him; God has the willingness to use us even when we don’t think we would be right for the job, for we fear entering into something unknown. The end result of obedience touches many more lives. “The men of the ship were changed, along with the people of Nineveh, and even along with Jonah, after he got over himself, and just trusted God. So many times God wants to use us for something that may not make sense right away to us, and He wants us to be obedient even when we don’t understand His reasoning. We often try to hide from God, maybe not in the hold of a ship, but in the recesses of our own mind, trying to convince ourselves that God is not asking anything from us, when we know in our hearts that He is. But know this: God pursues us in a love relationship that will take us places where we may not want to go, but it brings glory to Him. He has us doing things we may not want to do, but it will be for His glory and our blessing. Let’s not be like Jonah, and immediately react to fear instead of faith. Let’s trust the Lord, even when we are afraid, and then step out in faith anyway. That is called courage, reacting to faith in the face of fear. So don’t look at the storm around you, think of why you are in it, and see what God has in mind for you. Pastor Andy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: