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Monday, April 26, 2021

Jonah’s “Whale”

By Ron Thomas

    The Lord’s prophet, Jonah, was called upon to preach to a people with a terrible reputation, the Assyrians. Jonah, however, did not like this commission from the Lord so he took flight and fled, in effect, to get someone else to do it. The Lord was not easily avoided! Why did he flee? The Lord’s prophet had a pretty good idea how the Lord would respond if the people to whom he preached turned away from their sins, and he did not seem all that pleased they would do that (4:2). Jonah did not want the Lord’s mercy to be experienced by them. For what reason or reason, we do not know.
    Jonah gets into a boat to Tarshish (uncertain location, perhaps Spain) and hides. The sailors are none the wiser, as another ship-paying traveler gets aboard. Not long into the journey, experienced sailors are perplexed by the violent nature of the sea roaring waves. They have been on the water many times, had many experiences, but this was one of which they knew not from where it came. Their fear turned to “Let us pray to any deity out there in order that we might find one that will spare us!” As they took note of all the passengers, one was sleeping. This perplexed them even more and, no doubt, angered them.
    Jonah is forcibly awakened, explains what he thinks is the problem concerning the tempestuous sea. The experienced sailors and the travelers on board are frightened even more. Jonah proposed a solution, they resist, but then concluded they have no other option but to follow through on Jonah’s suggestion. Having done so, their fright is amplified even more! Yet, in this fright, they learned who Jonah served.
    There are a number of lessons from the Book of Jonah. First, one does not run away from the Lord. It is fruitless for a person to think he can. No matter where a person hides, the Lord is there. This includes, also, the fact there is no thought a person might have but the Lord knows that thought already. Second, the Lord’s prophet (preacher, elder, faithful Christians) should know this better than anyone. Yet, in the quiet of the evening, in the privacy of their homes, admist people they do not know, the ones who know (or should know) don’t act on that knowledge. “Be sure your sin will find you out” Moses said to the people in Numbers 32. Third, a city, community, and country that has the worst of reputations needs the Lord’s message of hope as much as those who are very-well learned in religious matters, not the least of which was the prophet Jonah. Fourth, think about the children, for the Lord did. 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


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