Jonah 1: 1-2 “The word of the Lord came to Jonah…’Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’”
If you ever find yourself talking to someone who believes that all gods are the same, ask them if their god can talk? Our God can talk. The God we pray to, the Lord we worship, can talk. The God of the Bible, the Savior who redeemed us, Emmanuel who is God with us, can talk. He’s not just sitting up in heaven somewhere watching everything we do and listening to everything we say, He a God who gets up close and personal with His children. He’s a God who still talks to His children today.
Can your God talk? Does He talk to you? Has the word of the Lord ever come to you like it came to Jonah? The Lord can speak to us as we read and study His word. He can speak to us through a preacher or teacher, through our spouse or through a friend. He may be talking to you right now and like Jonah, it makes you a little defensive and uncomfortable just to be thinking about it.
The Lord may be speaking to us about our priorities or about accepting responsibility for our lives and our eternal futures. He may be talking to us about loving our spouses and our families or about forgiving our spouses and our families. He may be talking to us about loving our enemies or about forgiving our enemies.
Regardless of how God is talking to us or what He may be saying to us, the Lord knows how to talk to us in ways that will get us to listen and, after the word of the Lord has come to us, things will never be the same for us again. Our lives will never be the way they were before the Lord’s word came to us.
We don’t have to believe it. We can pretend we didn’t hear it. But the fact still remains that, once the Word of the Lord comes to us, once His word is spoken, things will never be the same for us again. Each time the Lord’s word is spoken, we’ll either be drawn toward it, drawn by the Holy Spirit to accept it and live by it or, we’ll be pushed away from it, driven by our proud, selfish, sinful natures to reject it and ignore it.
But whether we accept it or reject it, believe it or deny it, our lives are going to change and whatever we decide to do after the word of the Lord has come to us will affect, not only our own lives, it will also affect the lives of many other people around us; people we don’t even know, as well as the people we care about and love very deeply.
Our God talks and His word is active and powerful. It is never spoken in vain. Whenever the word of the Lord is spoken, something happens. His word always does something. It always creates something. It always reveals or revives something and we can’t do anything to prevent it or escape it.
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah” telling him to “Go to…Nineveh and preach against it” and whatever Jonah decides to do about it is going to affect the lives of many other people as well as his own.
The Book of Jonah is a very short book. There’s only four chapters. But it could even be shorter. In fact, it should be shorter, a lot shorter.
There are three possible ways to tell this story.
(1) The story of Jonah’s life could have been told the way the Lord wanted to tell it. If this Book had been written the way the Lord wanted it written, there would only be one chapter with five verses. The story would be:
Jonah 3: 1-3a “The Word of the Lord came to Jonah…’Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.”
Jonah 3:5 The Nivevites believed God. The declared a fast, and all of them…put on sackcloth.”
Jonah 3:10 – “When God saw what they did and how they turned away from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened,”
God said, “Go!” Jonah went. The Ninevites believed and repented. God saw what they did and forgave them; end of story the way the Lord wanted to tell it.
(2) If the story had been told the way Jonah wanted to tell it, it would have been even shorter; one chapter with three verses.
Jonah 1:1-3 “The Word of the Lord came to Jonah…’Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it’…But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He 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.”
The Lord said, “Go to Nineveh!” Jonah sailed for Tarshish and lived happily ever after, living his own life and doing whatever he wanted to do. That’s the story the way Jonah thought he could tell it.
But what we actually ended up with are four chapters with a total of 48 verses.
(3) the story the way it had to be told because Jonah has a mind of his own but the Lord refuses to give up. Jonah’s choices and decisions are making a short story long.
Which way is your life’s story being told today; the way the Lord wants to tell it, the way you want it to tell it or the way it has to be told because of the choices and decisions you’ve made? The story of Jonah, told the way it had to be told, is the story or what happens to us and to everyone around us every time we say, “No” to something the Lord is telling us to do.
Jonah wanted to be left alone so he could live his life the way he wanted to live it. There was no room in his life for God, especially a God who could talk. That’s the last thing Jonah wanted was a God who said things that disagreed with what Jonah believed or interfered with what Jonah wanted to do.
But the Lord loved Jonah and had better and a more complete plan for his life. The Lord is extremely patient and understanding and He loves us with an everlasting, unconditional love, but He’ll only let us go so far. He’ll only wait so long and then He’ll hold us accountable for our selfish choices and behavior.
Are you intrigued so far? Stay with this to see how the Lord gets through to Jonah. Lord willing, we’ll be back in God’s word with Pastor Buj next Tuesday.