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The Book of Jonah always intrigues me. It reveals God’s grace to not only the sinner who has never known Him, but also to those who serve Him, yet stray away, as Jonah did.
Peoples’ minds immediately go to the whale when Jonah is brought up. I tend to think of a funny story that occurred while I was preaching in West Texas more than 10 years ago.
My wife was pregnant with twins at the time. While preaching on Jonah, I intended to say in the belly of the whale.
What came out was an inversion – something to the effect of “whale of a belly.”
I don’t remember how I recovered from that one.
At any rate, both Jonah and the Ninevites needed God’s mercy.
There are times when God’s people find themselves heading opposite of His will. They do that by choice.
Jonah went unto Tarshish “from the presence of the Lord.” That right there is an obvious error. Nothing compares to the presence of the Lord.
In fact, times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Eternity with God solely involves the presence of the Lord.
As Christians, we’re so very thankful for the presence of the Lord in our lives. There is joy unspeakable, peace and love in the presence of God.
Tarshish was a source of King Solomon’s great wealth in metals – especially silver, but also gold, tin and iron. The metals were reportedly obtained in partnership with King Hiran of Tyre in Phoenicia and fleets of ships from Tarshish.
In comparison, the temporary riches of this world – including the value of precious metals – will fade away fast at some point. The material items that appear to be valuable will completely lose their luster.
The true riches – God’s wonderful presence – will abide forever.
The rich young ruler in the Bible went away sorrowful because he chose material wealth over a relationship with Jesus.
Can you imagine the eternal sorrow he’s now experiencing if he continued that way the rest of his life here and lost out with God forever? Jesus basically told that young man that he had to make a choice in who he serves – will it be God or the worship of riches? It is a guarantee that the rich man lost his material wealth after he took his final breath.
We were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from our vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ.
The presence of God in our lives was obtained through Christ’s work at Calvary – His death, burial and resurrection. It is only through His precious blood that we can enter into God’s presence.
What a privilege!
No Christian in their right mind would want to depart from the presence of God.
Jonah, however, was not in a good spiritual state when he chose by his own admission to go opposite of God’s presence.
The prophet had issues that needed addressing.
God was very patient and long suffering with Jonah. Even when Jonah was in the depths of sorrow – inside the whale’s belly – he decided to pray, and his prayer went up through the whale, the sea, and the atmosphere and into the temple of God, where God heard his despairing cry.
God’s love delivered Jonah from depths Jonah himself could not escape.
Then, the word of the Lord came again to Jonah a second time. God gave Jonah another opportunity to do what he should have done in the first place. This time Jonah obeyed. But he still didn’t have the right spirit.
Could he not see that God spared him from the depths? Why then would Jonah not want God to forgive others who are in a bad sort?