The Bible story of Jonah and the whale presents an amazing miracle. And it’s not about the whale. In fact, we’re not certain it was a whale. But that’s another story. Here are four things the Bible story teaches us today.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches the importance of obedience
Obedience to God is consistently taught throughout the Bible. Scripture tells us to trust God. Exercise faith. And obey his commands. Usually presented as a choice we can follow or reject.
But the Bible story of Jonah and the whale is different.
God tells Jonah to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. Warn them to repent from their wicked ways. But Jonah doesn’t want to. And he tries to run away…or in this case sail away on a ship.
Typically when we choose not to speak up for God, that’s all there is to it. God finds someone else or other means to achieve his will. But in this story, God is insistent. He’s really serious about Jonah delivering his message to the people of Nineveh.
So God gently persuades Jonah to change his mind by sending a violent storm. And the sailors on the ship throw him overboard to save themselves.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches that God often takes unexpected measures
Enter the whale. The big fish. Massive, life form, ocean transport. Who saves Jonah from drowning by swallowing him and spitting him up on land three days later.
It’s a good reminder there is no place beyond God’s reach. Whether you’re running from him. Or feel lost and forgotten.
There’s no pit too deep. No place too remote. Sin too horrible.
And God will take unexpected measures to spread this news. He’ll use unlikely people, unusual circumstances, and unconventional methods. The whale, I’m sure you’ll agree, was pretty unconventional. And surprised both Jonah and the whale.
The point is, God is sovereign. He doesn’t have to use us in serving his purpose. He wants to. And we don’t have to obey. We get to.
It was an important lesson for Jonah. One we should learn too.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches about God’s mercy
Jonah finally obeys. Goes to Nineveh, travels through the city and preaches. Although it’s not a message of love and forgiveness. But of doom. Turn to God or face his wrath!
Not a message that would go over well today. And yet, the people of Nineveh repented and turned to God. Even the king who issued a proclamation for everyone to turn to God.
Therefore, God relented on sending a disaster on the city
And this makes Jonah mad! He even admits it’s why he didn’t want to go in the first place. Because he knew God was merciful and would forgive the people of Nineveh if they repented.
Seriously? Aren’t we supposed to celebrate when sinners repent? Welcome them into the kingdom of God?
And yet, perhaps there’s a little bit of Jonah in all of us. A tiny bit of satisfaction to see others get what’s coming to them. But thanks be to God he is not like us. Slow to anger and quick to forgive. His compassion never fails. And his mercies are new every day.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches that people are God’s priority
The amazing miracle in the story is not that a whale swallowed Jonah. That he survived it for three days. Or even that Jonah’s message pierced the hearts of a city’s entire population.
Rather, it’s the grace, mercy and love of an almighty God. Who takes extreme measures to reach a lost world with the gospel message. That all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
And changed forever.
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