Jonah is first mentioned in Scripture in II Kings 14:25 "He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher." Jonah was called by God to be a prophet and Jonah did exactly what God commanded Him to do. God called an experienced prophet to Nineveh, not one who had not served God. Jonah's first mission here, was not an easy one, he was asked to talk to King Amaziah, an evil king who did not serve God. Jonah had to speak to this King, at the risk of his life and tell him to restore some of the land. Also as we look at this verse, we see that the writer refers to Jonah as the "servant of God".
When we look at the events in Jonah's life, from the Book of Jonah, we see a much different picture of this prophet, and we see who he was. We know all about his shortcomings and issues, but notice throughout the book, God never leaves Jonah, Jonah leaves God. In Jon 1:3, Jonah "fled from the presence of the Lord". As Jonah runs away, God is still there, we see God is with Jonah in Jon 1:4, and the fish that God prepared (created) was at the right place and right time. In the belly of this fish Jonah cries out to God and God hears him. And throughout the rest of the book we see that God stays with Jonah, always there to assist Jonah in his walk with the Lord.
Many times as we look at this book we think that Jonah should have had it all together, that he should have been a better prophet, or a better servant of the Lord. But even the most devout disciple has days of struggle, times when they want to run away, and yet God is right there beside us. We have a gracious God who does not give up on His children. People at times look at the Pastor of a church and think he is perfect, and when he does something wrong he is jumped on. Some look at an author or famous speaker and think that they are where everyone should be, they are the benchmark, until they falter in a certain area, then they are completely rejected by all. None of us is perfect, we are all sinners, and we must be careful to remember that even the best of servants struggle through times of hardship. Jonah made a few bad decisions, but he was still God's servant, and God still used Jonah in Nineveh and with King Amaziah. God still uses us, and we ought to obey Him, but when we stumble, remember that He right beside us ready to help us back up to run that race for His Glory!
- Assistant Pastor Rick Mitton