From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2
We recently learned the story of Jonah in Children’s Church. I always tell the teachers working with the children that no matter how familiar they are with the story, they should read and study before presenting the lesson to the kids. I believe that in study and prayer, God will reveal not only something to you but prepare you for what the children need or may ask. I have heard many people say they have read a scripture many times but sometimes after numerous readings, something new drops in your heart. Well, it happened to me this time, AGAIN!
I have been guilty of thinking of Jonah as the “bad guy” who wouldn’t listen to God. You see Jonah was a “good guy”. He was a prophet mentioned in 2 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 Gath-hepher. Jonah lived and prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II. He was a good guy who got lost trying to do things his own way and with his own reasons without considering God and God’s ways. I know I can’t throw the first stone! You see many times we are in battles or suffer defeat when God has removed His divine help and protection because of our selfishness, greed, high and mighty attitudes and basic ugly old sin.
Nineveh’s repentance and salvation only came on the heels of Jonah’s repentance. Jonah could not out run God. Jonah could not hide from God. Most importantly, Jonah’s heart of fear and hate was not hidden from God. Nineveh was an ememy to Israel. They were mean. They did not acknowledge the one True God. They were sinful and Jonah felt they should be punished. BUT GOD, His grace abounds to all. Jonah learned that just as God sent prophets to Israel to warn them to turn from their wicked ways, He was in turn sending Jonah (God’s Prophet) to Nineveh to warn them. Jonah’s preaching opened the eyes of Nineveh’s King and his people. Through fasting and prayer they repented and God saved their city. Yes, the Ninevites were an ungodly people but God’s love and compassion reached out to them for salvation. Just as it extends to lost people everywhere, they have only to “cry out” as Jonah did in the belly of the fish.
So I said, I have been cast out of Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple. Water encompassed me to the point of death. The deep flowed around me, seaweed was wrapped around my head. I descended to the base of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, Lord my God. While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple. Jonah 2:4- 7
Pastor Julia Scott