Did you know that some skeptics think that the book of Jonah is nothing more than an allegory or a parable? But although they reject the historic reality of the story, they believe the book contains some spiritual lessons. Personally, I believe everything written in Jonah is true. I believe this because our Lord referred to the story of Jonah as something that actually took place (Matthew 12:39-40). If Jesus believed Jonah's story really happened, then so do I! Because of Jesus' confirmation, we can trust that everything written in Jonah is true and accurate.
Who was Jonah and what is this book about? Jonah was a prophet of Cod who ministered to the nation of Israel and other nations around the 8th century B.C. One day, God told Jonah to go and preach against the great city of Nineveh, the most important city in Assyria, the rising world power of Jonah's day. But note how Jonah responded to Cod's instructions (Jonah 1:1-3).
Cod had a specific duty for Jonah to fulfill. However, Jonah did not want to do it, so he tried to run away from the Lord. Jonah refused to go to Nineveh because he hated the Assyrians there with a passion.
The Assyrians were cruel, brutal, and wicked much worse than the Nazis of the twentieth century. After the Assyrians defeated a city, they would burn the whole city and carry away the women and children to be their slaves. They would torture their prisoners by cutting off their hands and feet or burn them at the stake. The Assyrian kings boasted of their military might by decorating their palaces with the heads of their victims.
You can understand why Jonah disliked these people! He despised them so much that he tried to run away from the Lord because he did not want the Assyrians to repent and get right with Cod. Instead of going to Nineveh, the prophet headed for Tarshish in the opposite direction.
Read Jonah 1:3-17 to discover what happened to Jonah while he was running from Cod. Since Jonah disobeyed the will of God, his life began to fall apart. Likewise, if we purposely disobey Cod, we experience turbulent and difficult times.
For example, Cod promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their descendants would occupy the land of Canaan. However, in Numbers 13, the Israelites refused to follow God's plan for taking the Promised Land. Because the Israelites did not obey God, they were cursed to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, and every person who was 20 years old or older when Israel rejected God's directive died in the wilderness. Someone has calculated that this meant a funeral every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 40 years. Disobedience is costly!
God also told His people not to commit adultery. However, David did not obey God's commandment. Because David disobeyed God's will, his family was torn apart. I believe that many families are in turmoil because they do not follow God's will. If we disobey Cod, our lives can end in disarray. Cod has ways of getting our attention when we stray away from His direction.
- Jonah, because of his disobedience, wound up in the belly of a large fish.
- King David, because of his disobedience, lost a child and experienced severe family problems.
It's time for us to stop being disobedient and start yielding to the will of God. What is God's will for our lives? His ultimate will is for us to be saved and to obey His Word! In Luke 8:21, Jesus said: "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's Word and put it into practice."
(See also Mark 3:35.) Likewise, when we yield our lives to God's will, we will flourish (James 1:25; Joshua 1:8).
Today, we have learned one spiritual principal from the book of Jonah: We need to yield to God's will. If you feel that your life is out of control and headed in the wrong direction, maybe it is because you are not yielding to God's will. God rescued Jonah from the belly of the fish, and He can do the same for you if you are willing to change the course of your life and start following His will.
ELLEN G. WHITE QUOTATIONS
"Noah preached the righteousness of God; Jonah called the city of Nineveh to repentance, and there is a similar work to be done today. There are now more than one Noah to do the work, and more than one Jonah to proclaim the word of the Lord. While discord and strife, crime and blood-shed are in the land, let God's people love one another. Plagues and pestilence, fire and flood, disaster by land and by sea, horrible murders, and every conceivable crime exist in the world, and does it not now become us who claim to have large light to be true to God, to love him supremely and our neighbor as ourselves?" (RH, May 27, 1890 par. 2)
General Conference Ministerial Association