Of Fish And Mercy
God commanded the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and, “cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:2; KJV). Jonah disobeyed God and tried to run and hide from him by boarding a ship sailing to Tarshish; a place far away from Nineveh. Jonah’s actions were very foolish; there is nowhere we can go to escape God’s presence (). Jonah’s reasons are not given, we can only surmise that he did not want to deliver a message to the Gentiles Assyrians in Nineveh. Assyria had long dominated and treated Israel very cruelly.
Jonah’s ship ran into a storm that threatened to destroy the ship and Jonah realized it was because of him and his disobedience. Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard which they reluctantly did. The sea was calmed and the sailors revered God almighty. God caused a “great fish” to swallow Jonah. Jonah repented and cried out to God who caused the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
Jonah humbled himself, obeyed God and delivered his message. You would think his experience would have caused a change of heart, but no! The Ninevites repented and God had mercy on them but Jonah’s response was anger and disapproval of God’s mercy. Jonah knew God’s character and nature and had just experienced God’s mercy firsthand but he was blinded by his memories of the Assyrians treatment of his own people, Israel. God reminded Jonah of the depth of his mercy to all people lost in sin.
Lots to learn here; we can’t hide from God, He requires our obedience, he will go to any length to show his mercy and no sin is too great for him to forgive if we repent. Meditate on the short book of Jonah!