Jonah

The Book of Jonah in the Bible The prophet Jonah is perhaps the most familiar character in the Old Testament. But beyond the bit about being swallowed by a large fish, it’s largely misunderstood.

It is a story of Jonah, a wayward prophet, who in his disobedience is given a wakeup call inside a large fish. Eventually, he reluctantly does what he has been told to do – only to become angry at God’s mercy when the people believe and respond to his message.

The fact that God can accomplish things despite obstinate and uncooperative followers is a comforting conclusion to this engaging book.

Jonah is sometimes called a minor prophet. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t important, but merely that the book named after him is shorter. (Compare this to the major prophets, whose books are much longer.)

Posts about the Minor Prophets

For the past several months, most of the A Bible A Day posts have been about the minor prophets.  Recall that they are called “minor” not because their prophecy is insignificant, but because their books are short!

Though more posts may be added in the future, there are no more planned at this time.  See all posts about the Minor Prophets, or look at specific ones:

Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah

Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi

Read more about the Minor Prophets on ABibleADay.com.

God’s Sovereignty At Work

In the story of Jonah, we see God’s sovereignty at work, with God exercising control over nature.  Here’s what God does:

  • He sends a wind [Jonah 1:4]
  • He calms the sea [Jonah 1:15]
  • He provides a fish to shallow Jonah [Jonah 1:17]
  • He commands the fish to deposit Jonah on dry land [Jonah 2:10]
  • He makes a vine grow to give shade to Jonah [Jonah 4:6]
  • He causes a worm to chew the vine and kill it [Jonah 4:7]

Furthermore, God’s sovereignty allows him to show mercy towards the people of Nineveh and not destroy them as he had originally planned.

However, God does not exercise control over Jonah, allowing him to do what he wants, when he chooses,and how pleases.  Jonah has free will — and God does not interfere with that even though Jonah’s choices cause him a lot of grief.

God gives Jonah the freedom to mess up — or to do what is right.  That’s how God rolls.

Jonah and the Big Fish

You likely know the story of Jonah:

  • He tries to run from God
  • Spends a 3-day “time out” in a fish
  • Is given a second chance
  • Then does what God commands, albeit with a bad attitude

He proclaims, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”

Eight concise and direct words.  He doesn’t use persuasive language, doesn’t implore the people to act, and doesn’t show any compassion or concern.  He is blunt and to the point.  Technically, he does what God tells him to do, but his heart isn’t in it.

Amazingly, the people get his message, are convicted, and repent.  So God lovingly relents and calls the whole thing off — and Jonah gets pissed.

Jonah even picks a good seat to watch the destruction take place — and then pouts when God gives Nineveh a reprieve.

Essentially, Jonah reluctantly preaches a bad sermon and then gets mad because it’s successful.

Despite all that, God is able to use him anyway.  How encouraging!

Fasting for the Right Reasons

Although many people ignore its practice, fasting is demonstrated in the Bible and is an encouraged practice.  (See the blog entry, “When You Fast…“.)

However, fasting rightly requires fasting for the right reasons.  Here are some of them:

Wrong reasons for fasting includes to earn God’s attention or favor, out of a sense of duty and obligation, or to gain the respect of others.