August 19, 2020·Deborah Clark
When someone says “Jonah,” what comes to mind? For many of us, the answer is a whale, or to be more accurate – a big fish! But other than knowing that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, what else do we see in Jonah?
As I was reading Jonah in our Pause plan this week (you can join us HERE), there were a couple of things that stood out to me that I want to point out.
The first thing is this: Try as he might to run away from God and the directions he had been given, Jonah couldn’t escape the Lord!
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, and instead, Jonah got on a boat and headed in the opposite direction. But we see in the first two chapters that “the Lord sent a great wind,” causing the sailors to ask what they needed to do, leading to Jonah being thrown overboard to calm the sea. Then, “the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah,” where he stayed for three days and three nights, calling out to the Lord in his despair. And we are told, “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
Jonah had clearly heard the Lord, and yet, he chose to disobey. But God loved Jonah (and the people of Nineveh) enough to not let him stray too far from His plan.
What a great reminder that God is involved in every area of our lives. And while we have the freedom to make poor choices and walk in the opposite direction of God, His love for us is never ending and He will continue to pursue us. He will continue to intervene and lead us back to Him. He is faithful to work in us, to get us where we need to be, even if we choose a detour.
And the second thing I love about this: God is truly a God of second chances. (Anyone seen the Veggie Tales movie, Jonah? They sing a song about it that is now stuck in my head!)
Jonah was a prophet. He heard the word of the Lord clearly. And yet, like we’ve already seen, he chose to disobey. Jonah didn’t like the possible outcome of what God was asking him to do (right there, is a whole sermon in itself that I can’t get into today!), so he said “no” and ran the other way. Literally.
The Lord had sent Jonah to Nineveh because “its wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2).
So, whether you are someone like Jonah, who knows and hears the voice of the Lord and has made some bad choices, or if you are someone who hasn’t heard the truth of God’s grace and forgiveness yet and is living in sin, surrounded by wickedness and separated from God, it is NOT TOO LATE for you.
God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, get his attention and put him back on the right path. Then God sent Jonah to tell the Ninevites they would be overthrown in 40 days, and the Ninevites paid attention, repented from their evil ways and rebellion, and got back on the right path.
Both were given a second chance. A chance to obey. A chance to experience the forgiveness and love that a Heavenly Father offers us. A chance to leave their sin behind and walk with God.
Whether you identify with Jonah or the people of Nineveh today, I think it’s good to remember that God’s love is relentless. Today, I’m grateful we serve a God of second chances.
Pastor Deborah Clark