By Colleen Donahue
Have you ever been called by God to do a task that you just could not face? Perhaps you sought to rationalize God's plan to do something more to your liking, or to run from it entirely. If you've been in this place, or if you are facing some question of obedience today, then you will want to take a closer look at:
JONAH - The Prophet Who Ran Away
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
Day 1- Jonah was one of the earlier prophets - a native of Galilee.
2 Kings 14:25
Day 2- Although this narrative of Judah is seen as myth by unbelievers and some scholars, the Jews accepted it as historical (as seen in the writings of Josephus) and Jesus Himself vouched for its truth.
Matthew 12:39-41 / Luke 11:29-30
Day 3-This book begins with a formal expression of God's sovereign will and a man's determined opposition to it.
Day 4-Nineveh was east, but Jonah went west! Why? Perhaps he was overcome by all the difficulties. Nineveh was very large and as the capital of Assyria it was heavily fortified. The city was also very wicked. Besides, what could one man do? Not a word is mentioned that this is Jonah's problem at all. Then what was his reason for running away? You'll find the answer if you skip ahead to:
Those who lived in Nineveh were enemies of the Jews. He was afraid that if he preached judgement and they decided to repent that God would bless them. He did not want this people blessed and therefore he fled!
Day 5-If we are a Christian, we have the same commission to "go" and to "preach" as Jonah did. Will you run away?
Day 6-There are two results for anyone who disobeys God:
1) They will have a downhill course rather than uphill for God's way is always "up".
2) " When you run away from the Lord you never get to where you are going and YOU always pay your own fare. On the other hand, when you go the Lord's way you always get to where you are going and HE pays the fare." (Quote by Donald Grey Barnhouse)
The trouble caused by disobedient servants of God affects everyone!
Could Jonah sleeping soundly in the midst of a raging storm be a picture of a sleeping church today?
Day 7-Nothing in life really happens by chance.
The fact that the "lot" fell to Jonah was no surprise.
Day 8- Despite himself, Jonah gave a good testimony to the sailors when he was asked, "What is this you have done? "
The sailors already knew stories of Jonah's God and that is why there were terrified.
Day 9- The true state of Jonah's heart is revealed in his answer to the sailor's second question - "what shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?" Jonah's reply meant that he would rather die than do God's will!
The sailors seemed to be genuinely converted as they offered sacrifices to God and made vows.
Day 10- God's mercy to sinners is expressed in many ways, and in Jonah's life, in a very creative way. Rather than allowing him to drown, God prepared a "holding tank", which allowed Jonah to think and regroup.
A PRAYER FROM THE DEEP
There is probably not one of us who hasn't been in a straightened place and had to look "up" for the way out. Jonah was literally in the deep and from that low place looked up and began to pray.
Day 11-Jonah now came to God as a sinner and not as a Jew deserving of special privileges. His prayer shows some characteristics of all true prayer. Notice first his honesty. He acknowledges that it was God that had caused his problems because he deserved it. He had no excuses for the circumstances that had caused his current distress.
Day 12- Next in Jonah's prayer we see confession and sorrow for his sin and an acknowledgement that what had happened to him was his own fault.
Day 13-Finally, he was thankful. God had turned him from rebellion, to call on His name again, and he was thankful for God's grace and salvation.
Day 14-True prayer, such as what Jonah prayed, is irresistible to God. He loves to answer our prayers.
Jonah 2:10 / Psalm 91:15/ Isaiah 58:9 / Isaiah 65:24 / Luke 11:9 / John 15:7
The GREATEST REVIVAL IN HISTORY
Day 15- The revival in Nineveh is a record of the greatest mass conversion in history. It began with God's call to just one man. Even though things got delayed, God was merciful and came a second time with the same unaltered commission.
Day 16- For revival to come there must be faithful preaching, followed by faithful hearing, then leading to belief in God. Notice that Jonah's message was not long or intellectual or eloquent.
Day 17-There is no true belief without action. The people of Nineveh heard, believed, and took action. There must always be a turning from specific sin. In this city that turning was from evil and violence.
Day 18-What was the result of this nationwide repentance?
The fact that God "repented" means that He changed His mind. Rather than sending punishment on the people He took it upon Himself. He did this later in time through His Son Jesus.
GOD - MORE MERCIFUL THAN HIS PROPHET
God's mercy had extended to Jonah, the sailors, and Nineveh. Now at the end of the story, we are back to just God and Jonah - His rebellious prophet. God gives all of us work to do involving others but in the end it always comes back to the individual and God. Have we obeyed Him?
Day 19- After this amazing revival, we find Jonah displeased and angry. Why?
Day 20- Yes, he (Jonah) had obeyed but God had not destroyed Nineveh and he felt betrayed. He tries to justify his former disobedience and then uses scripture to turn God against God!
Reread Jonah 4:2
In Verse 2b Jonah is actually quoting from Exodus 34:6-7 .
Jonah is saying something like this to God: "Is this what you said or not? If it is, why did you send me with a message you never intended to fulfill?"
If we find ourselves reading the Bible to find verses and passages that justify our own behavior, we are wrong and in danger.
JONAH'S PITY PARTY
Day 21-When we are depressed and discouraged what words might we be quick to speak?
Jonah 4: 3, 9
Day 22- In Jonah 4:4, the Lord asks Jonah a question to challenge him to judge whether he-- the angry prophet --or the great God of the universe was right. Out of his anger Jonah made three more errors:
1) He quit. He abandoned his mission to Nineveh.
2) He built a private retreat when he should have stayed with the people. He still despised the people and wanted God to judge them.
3) He was called to identify with the people and help them. Instead, he became a spectator.
Day 23- Before God asks Jonah the next question, He wanted to prepare Jonah's heart. He did so by causing a fast growing vine to sprout up next to Jonah's shelter. Jonah was suddenly happy! God was finally doing something for Jonah! When a worm appeared to eat the plant and then a hot, desert wind began to blow, Jonah was plunged back to his depression and anger. Now God asks him the second question to expose Jonah's petty selfishness. First Jonah was angry at big things but now he was angry about a worm!
Jonah 4: 6-9
Day 24- God has the last word here as he closes with a question to Jonah. God was not only thinking of the people but also the animals. He great is His mercy!
Jonah 4: 10-11
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS GREAT STORY?
Day 25- We might consider ourselves Christian workers but still be taken up with our own interests and prejudices. In Jonah's life this showed clearly in his lack of interest and love for the people of Nineveh. Do you find love and concern for some, while having no interest in others? This is completely opposite from God.
Psalm 108:4 / John 3:16 / 1 John 3:1
Day 26- Like Jonah, we can be so burdened with nationalistic prejudices and personal interests that we can't see beyond our own world to show mercy and love to others. Notice in the verses above that God's heart is big enough to take in the whole world. This great love shows itself in great mercy.
Lamentations 3:22-23 / Micah 7:18 / Ephesians 2:4-5 / Titus 3:5
But, how can we get free from all the self interests and preoccupations that keep us introverted and narrow?
FREE FROM OURSELVES?
We can't do the work but God can. Our place is to cooperate with Him.
Day 26- First, there must be consecration to God. It is the expression of our willingness to be in the hands of God.
Proverbs 23:26 / Romans 12:1 / Philippians 3:7-8
Day 27- Our consecration can only be according to our insight and understanding. But it is important because it opens the door for the Holy Spirit to come in and work on our life from the inside. Each of us have an "old nature" that gets in the way of God's life expressing itself through us. The Lord Jesus says that there is one thing that must happen to our old nature.
John 12: 24-25
Day 28- When Christ went to the cross, He not only died to Himself but He took every one of us with Him - not in physical reality but in a spiritual reality.
What is the result of the death of our old nature to the actual lives that we live today?
Romans 6: 7, 14
Day 29- It was at the Cross that the power of our old nature to keep us selfish and introverted was broken. With this power broken, we now have the ability to yield ourselves fully for God's purposes and to live a life that is not dominated by sin and selfish interests.
Romans 6: 13-14 , 17-19
Day 30- For all of this to be real in your life, you must take it by faith. It is through faith that God has already done the work in your life so that you can walk in freedom from Self.
Romans 5:1 / Hebrews 11:1/ 1 John 5:4
Day 31- We can live our lives for God like Jonah - with a mixed heart - or we can come to God like King David and pray for a clean heart that loves and serves from pure motives. May the following verses be our prayer.
Psalm 51: 1-19
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