Jonah and the great fish is a very familiar Bible story. We are fascinated by the details but most of us don’t grasp the full meaning of it. It’s much more than a fish catching a man. The story is one of grace and forgiveness, not only for a reluctant missionary but also for a city full of people.
Exodus 34:6; Jonah 1:1-3, 5, 12, 17; 3:1, 3-4, 10; Proverbs 14:12; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 20:24
The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Jonah 1:1-3 NIV
God never gives up on Jonah…not when he disobeys and runs away and not when he returns and pouts over God’s grace-filled actions toward the city of Nineveh and its people. God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness. God, with a loving and gracious heart, wanted the people to know that the time for judgment had come and this was their opportunity to repent and get right with Him. Jonah despised the people of Nineveh, which was the capital city of Assyria. The Assyrians were very cruel and worshipped false gods and that made them “bad” people in Jonah’s mind. Going to Nineveh would put Jonah in a very uncomfortable position way outside his comfort zone. He disobeyed God’s call to action and he ended up going down to Joppa and eventually down into the great fish.
Have you ever run from what you thought God wanted you to do? Has there ever been a Nineveh in your life that pulled you out of your comfort zone? What do you do when God says, “Go to Nineveh”? Do you think Jonah had a deficiency of grace when it came to the Ninevites? Do you have a deficiency of grace toward some people in the world? How far will the God of grace let us go in our disobedience and sin? Have you learned that when we disobey God’s call to action in our lives we never go “up” but always go “down?”
Ask God to show you if you have a grace deficiency in your life toward any people. If you do, then seek His help to fill your heart with His grace for them. Determine with God’s empowering that you will obey God’s call to action in your life.
Dear Lord Jesus, put a desire in my heart to obey you whenever I’m called to move out of my comfort zone and minister to people. Fill me with your grace so that I can effectively witness to your love and forgiveness for all. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.