This is the first installment of my new study series on the book of Jonah and I’m very excited about it! First before I dig into Jonah (and believe me we are DIGGING into these amazing four little chapters), I just want to share with you a love that I have for this part of the Old Testament.
In the Sunday School class, we opened with a discussion of how important the Old Testament is. One testimony was that the Lord opened her eyes to the overall story of forgiveness and repentance that is shown throughout the whole Bible – starting the Old Testament and continuing into the New Testament. Another testimony was that the repentance and grace found in the New Testament is only fully realized after reading the Old Testament to see and realize what sin is that God finds detestable. My personal testimony is that we receive the empowering tools of grace and forgiveness in the New Testament but the battle-plan for our fight with the devil is found in the Old Testament.
My favorite part of the Old Testament is the collection of minor prophets – Amos, Joel, Hosea, and now Jonah is being added to some of my top favorites. There are just so rich with God’s heart and you never realize it until you read it.
So I am encouraging you, that if ANYONE – I don’t care who – has told you that the Old Testament is outdated and no longer applicable, don’t listen to them and read the Old Testament for yourself. God gave us the WHOLE Bible as His love letter to us and reading both the Old and New Testaments are vital to having a fully effective walk with Jesus.
Ok now into Jonah! If you want a quick overview of Jonah’s story (plus a little laughter) go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qLhAdA5ZXI and enjoy!
“The Word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. We went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”
Now Jonah 3:1-2 “Then the word of the came to Jonah a second time. ‘Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim to it the message I give you.’”
So the first principle that God opened my eyes to was that Jonah only had to hear the message the first time. God didn’t have to repeat himself (the first time). Jonah knew that the Lord had spoken and Jonah didn’t want to do it
Jonah had such a good relationship with the Lord that he knew when the Lord was speaking and he didn’t have to ask ‘Lord, is that you?’
There isn’t any real clue as to how Jonah lived his life, but he was a prophet so obviously he was close with God to have that anointing and to hear from the Lord. So I don’t know when he got up to pray, where he prayed, etc.
But God wants to know, do you want to be so close to God that He only has to speak once and you’ll move? (Granted Jonah moved in the opposite direction BUT he moved! Some of us have heard from God and just are not moving – Revelation 3:1-4, 14-16 speak to two different churches but they are similar in their errors. The first one is calling them to wake up, to move as they once did. They had a reputation for being alive but now they were dead so they needed to start moving again. Then the second one is calling us to be either cold or hot, not lukewarm. When we hear from the Lord and don’t move – positively or negatively – then we are lukewarm and God spits us out of his mouth. This state of inaction is the same sort of disobedience as Jonah’s moving in the negative direction, but at least Jonah moved.)
So again, I repeat my question – do you want to have that kind of relationship that God only has to speak once and you’ll obey? I do, I consider him speaking to me as a privilege as I know some people ‘cannot hear’ the Lord. He longs to speak to everyone but it still amazes me when He tells me something.
I can’t make you want this, I can’t make you move. The only one to make you move is you. You can trump the Holy Spirit on this – he can push you and urge you as much as possible but YOU – YES YOU – can still say no and not move.
But let me tell you, the consequence of not listening to Lord is most detrimental as you do not get to experience the fullness of life that God intended you to have. Instead of victory and experiencing the joy of overcoming a mountain, instead you make the trip around the mountain over and over and over again, probably getting bruised and attacked all along way and then becoming really frustrated at God because ‘He let this happen’ but when really…you said no and refused to do what He said.
Don’t try and bring in Jericho as an example of how walking around something over and over will bring it down – the Israelites were doing what God told them to do. If He had told them to plant flowers around the walls to make them fall, it would have worked because it wasn’t the deed, it is simply the fact that they were doing what God told them to do.
So the point of that is – do what God tells you to do even if you don’t like it or don’t understand it. The beginning of this week God kept reinforcing a certain activity He wanted me to do that would bring about great victory – He told me it would. And I struggled with it because this activity I’m not used to nor do I like doing it but I did it and it did. It brought about great victory and I praise God for it. But it was definitely a struggle, I would say “God I hate this…but I’m doing it for you. You asked me to, so I am”
When you submit to God, you then resist the devil by default, and he has to flee AS WELL AS receiving the victory God has already provided for you! James 4:7, 1 John 5:1-5, Romans 8:31