Yes, God had spoken to him and asked him to go.
Yes, he had refused and run away.... and God had found him.
Yes, he had been as good as dead... and God had saved him.
And God had spoken again. A second chance had been given, not only to Nineveh and its citizens, but to Jonah as well.
He should be so grateful, so happy to be alive and breathing! But he just couldn't shake his anger and hatred for the people of this city, he couldn't help but feel utter contempt for their lifestyles and their culture, he despised them.
But he had made a vow to God... and he would obey.
I think Jonah is one of the easiest people to relate to in the Bible. His struggle with living in obedience to God's call while being manipulated by his sinful nature is a story we have all shared in at some point.
The apostle Paul summed up this struggle this way:
"I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." [Romans 7:15, 18-19, 21-25]
Throughout this series, we have described sin as "any area in our lives where we have run from the love and presence of God." This includes all of us.
God, in his grace, pursues us and extends to us the invitation to return to him. We have described this process as "repentance."
But what good is an understanding of our running, or even of turning our running back towards God, if we don't take the next step? This week, we defined the next step after repentance as "obedience."
Repentance turns you around.
Obedience lets you take the next step forward.
Here's some thoughts from Sunday's teaching & discussion:
Jonah’s obedience influenced the Ninevites to:
o Believe God
o Call on God
o Repent of their evil ways
o Receive God’s mercy
2. GOD HAS CHOSEN US TO ACCOMPLISH HIS MISSION
How willing are you to be God's messenger,
taking good news to undeserving people?
3. REPENTANCE & OBEDIENCE GO HAND-IN-HAND
And they share a common factor: sacrifice.
In what situation(s) would you consider fasting and giving up your (rightful) comforts - sacrificing - in order to seek and find God?
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
• Repentance brings us to God’s mercy
• Obedience brings us to God’s grace