As children we have all learned the story of Jonah, and were all amazed by the fact that a big fish swallowed him and he was able to live in the belly of this fish for three days. Now in our Young People’s at Hudsonville PRC we are taking a closer look at this story, and seeing how it can be a great lesson to us.
The city of Nineveh was the capital in Assyria, and it also became the center of power for Assyria. To get across the whole city was a three days’ journey, and the walls were so thick you could drive at least three chariots across them. This had to have been very intimidating for Jonah when he found out that he was called to go and preach to them. For Jonah to go into the city of Nineveh and preach their destruction would be like us going to into a very big and sinful city like Las Vegas or New Orleans. Not only would we be mocked for what we were saying, our message would not even be taken seriously. Part of the reason Jonah fled to Tarshish was because he did not believe that the preaching should go to the Ninevites. Israel was struggling at this time religiously, and Jonah believed that he could have been used better in Israel. This was not God’s will though, and God never fails to carry out his will. Nothing we will ever do can change God’s will. While it may not seem like it at the time, God directs everything for our good and his glory. This is of great comfort to us with all the situations of life that we face.
Jonah tried to flee the presence of God when he got on a boat and sailed to Tarshish. At times we are like Jonah and we try to flee from the presence of God. Although we probably don’t physically try and flee, spiritually we do. When we are walking in sin and refuse to leave this sin, we are in a way “fleeing the presence of God.” We become so caught up in our sins that we forget about God, and soon our sin becomes the focus of our lives.
God used the big fish to save Jonah when he was drowning in the ocean so that Jonah could continue on to Nineveh to preach to the people there. God, again, shows that his will is always carried out no matter what man tries to do to prevent it. The fact that God saved Jonah also shows that he still loves his people even when they are walking in terrible sin. Jonah tried to flee the presence of God, and God showed Jonah that he is everywhere and that no one can hide from him. This is a comfort for us as well because we know that God is with his people at all times and will care for us even if we walk in sin.
In looking at just these few aspects it is clear that the book of Jonah is more than just a Bible story we learn when we are younger. Jonah teaches us many things about God and his will. It also shows us the dangers of sin, and the seriousness of trying to flee from God. Not only is it a terrible sin to try to flee from God, but it is also very scary. Without God we have no peace or sense of security and safety in this life. Without God we feel helpless and alone, and that is a very scary thing especially with the type of world around us. As little kids we thought the most amazing thing about the book of Jonah was the big fish, but now as young people we see the amazing truths about God which make the miracle of the big fish swallowing Jonah seem little.