This is the first installment of a series of five posts that focus on the life of Jonah, the prophet, and that are drawn from a recent messages.
Part 1: What’s Jonah got to do with Elul?
Did you know that during the month of Elul and the forty days of Repentance, it is customary in many Jewish circles to read the book of Jonah? And it is the major reading material for the afternoon of the Feast of Yom Kippur. Could it be that is why our current sermon series is on the book of Jonah?
The themes of the Book of Jonah are pertinent to this season in so many ways that maybe this needs a closer look. So let us embark on a blog miniseries to explore some of these thoughts on the story of this Prophet of Israel. Let us take an opportunity to lift this book as a mirror on our own lives, examining how we respond to the will of G-d.
Jonah was a Prophet (ooh-ooh). He was a man who was accustomed to hearing the voice of ADONAI. ADONAI told him to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh, telling them to repent. It is understandable that Jonah did not welcome this assignment. He was a Prophet of Israel and the city of Nineveh was not only a Gentile city, but it was an enemy Gentile city. We can probably think of many reasons “why” Jonah did not want to do this. But… ADONAI had directly commanded him to do this thing and Jonah rebelled. He set off on a journey all right, but in completely the opposite direction. Nineveh was east and Jonah went west; Nineveh was over land and Jonah chose over the sea. Jonah’s response to G-d was REBELLION.
Even so, ADONAI was not done with Jonah. ADONAI sent a huge storm that ended up with Jonah being cast into the sea and then swallowed by a huge fish. G-d’s discipline came through uncomfortable circumstances, such as strong winds, stormy seas, and the belly of a giant fish—but that’s what it took to get Jonah’s attention. These difficult, almost catastrophic circumstances, were really the gracious acts of G-d to redeem Jonah and to give him the opportunity to change his ways. After several days inside that fish—enjoying the ambiance, while waiting to be digested—Jonah repented of his rebellion. Jonah finally responded to ADONAI in the way that He desires of his children. He responded with REPENTANCE and submission to ADONAI.
And it was then that ADONAI instructed the fish to vomit Jonah up on dry land. ADONAI responded to Jonah’s repentance with REDEMPTION and Jonah was given his second chance.
The story of Jonah is one of RESPONSES:
- Rebellion: so often the natural response of man to the Word of G-d
- Repentance: the response the loving Father is desiring from His children
- Redemption: the response of this loving Father to his repentant children
The Forty Days of Repentance provide us an opportunity to examine these responses in our own lives. Do we have areas of rebellion towards our Father in our lives? In what areas of our lives do we see the discipline of a loving Father? What areas of our lives are there where we need to throw ourselves, in repentance, on the mercy of the Father? Are you rejoicing in your salvation, as you meditate on the many ways in which our Father has brought redemption to us?
Check back in a couple of days for Part 2: Rebellion.