Almost everyone has heard of Jonah from Biblical stories. Do you remember Him? He was the one who was swallowed by a great fish…well, actually,the one we would call a whale, today.
This is a whale of a story, so I’m going to use the comparative word although some would say, not so, it wasn’t a whale and the whole story is fabrication. Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I am grateful for that because I believe the Bible is God’s Word.
This story began when God told Jonah (who was a prophet) to go preach forgiveness to the Assyrians, but Jonah got all puffed up at the very idea and decided he would just run away and hide from God, which was a very foolish idea. We would never do that, would we? I’m sure you’ve heard it said that God was the God of the Israelites, and that was the very reason Jonah was so angry with God. Can you imagine? Oh, but I forgot to tell you that the Assyrians were Gentiles.
Well, let’s take a look at those Assyrians. They had been worshiping idols even though God had said “Now listen, no one is to put anyone or anything above me. I am a jealous God, I am not made of stone, I speak, I command, I care. Listen and obey!” Does that tell you a little something about this God of Israel? It tells me that He is the God of all men and that He cared what happened to the Assyrians.
There’s something else you should know about the Assyrians. God had already sent one preacher to them, a hundred years before Jonah was told to go. That prophet’s name was Nahum, and He obeyed God’s command, did the job God gave him to do and the people repented of their wickedness and had another chance to be pleasing to God. So Jonah’s tale was a sequel to Nahum, did you know that?
But sometimes people think they know more than God, and Jonah was one of them. Now, I hate to say this, but in reality we are more often like Jonah than we are like anyone else in Scripture. Here’s what Jonah did…he ran away. Not only did he run from God he complained so much that when God finally got him on a boat, he wound up in the belly of that whale. A question for you. What made Jonah so angry? The Assyrians were a Gentile nation and were quite often the enemies of the Jews, but you know, that’s kind of strange, because when the Israelites divided into two nations the northern kingdom broke away and were taken captive by the Assyrians and they never came back to Israel; so, a large part of Assyria was Jewish. You would think Jonah would have at least been interested in his own people.
God not only had a message for the Assyrians He had one for Jonah as well. In the first place Jonah had a bad attitude, so bad he wound up in a whale. Second, God was saying to Jonah, ” I am the God of forgiveness for all people, so clean up your act, Jonah!” Do you think we would ever do anything that crazy? Oh, probably not, but what about when He says we are to care for those in need, and what if He said “put no other gods before me” do we do that? How about our cars, our houses, our money, our many possessions? Oh.
The moral of this ‘whale of a tale’ is that modern ‘whales,’ could be most anywhere. So watch your attitudes, and always understand that every facet of your life either worships Him or denies Him. Recognize Him in your heart and praise Him for who He is.