1. Old Names Make an Appearance
“But on Mount Zion will be deliverance;
it will be holy,
and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
Jacob will be a fire
and Joseph a flame;
Esau will be stubble,
and they will set him on fire and destroy him.
There will be no survivors
The Lord has spoken. –Obadiah 1:17-18
There’s a blast from the past! Jacob and Esau! Remember them? They were the first twins in the Bible. Sons of Isaac and Rebekah. They’re famous for the story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Then, Jacob and Rebekah later created a scheme that tricked Isaac into giving Jacob his blessing over Esau.
This led to jealousy and rage as Esau threatened to kill Jacob, causing Jacob to flee. Now, all this time later, the jealousy still remained. As judgement was raining down on Israel (Jacob’s descendants), causing them to flee their homeland, the Edomites (Esau’s descendants) apprehended them and handed them over to their invaders. They showed no kindness to Israel. This shows the actions of these two individuals having a significant impact on the lives of an enormous amount of people all this time later.
2. No Happy Ending
I remember growing up and learning about the story of Jonah. It was a nice, interesting tale of a guy disobeying God andgetting eaten by a fish. Eventually, Jonah tells God sorry and gets spit out. Then Jonah walks off into the sunset, whistling happily and going off to do what God originally told him to do. And they all lived happily ever after…
What a great story! Even look at this picture they showed us during Sunday School! A fish’s stomach may be a little boring, but it’s not too bad.
While this might be a nice story and a good way to introduce the Bible to small children, it’s important for us to realize that there is so much more to it! Jonah committed a great sin. He deliberately disobeyed God. On the boat, he was thrust into the middle of a storm that was so supernatural the sailors recognized that it must have come from a god. He was swallowed by a fish, and absolutely suffered in the fish’s stomach for three days. Devine intervention was the only thing that kept him alive during that time. He then turns to God and begs for forgiveness, before being puked out by the fish.
He is then sent to Nineveh (just like the original plan) and tells the city that eminent doom is near. And how does the city react? They repent, ask for, and get grace from God.
“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.” -Jonah 4:1
Jonah was ticked that he had to go through all of his suffering just for God to relent the destruction he sent Jonah to foretell. He became so angry that he told God that He might as well just kill him. He leaves the city to pout. It is during this time God again tries to show his love to Jonah by giving him a nice shade tree to sit under. But when Jonah continues to pout, God takes it away and turns the tree into an illustration.
The last we hear of Jonah is him still being angry with God.This is a big reminder that the Bible is filled with very flawed people who do great things for God. There was no happy ending to this story for Jonah. We don’t know if he ever went on to get right with God. What we do know is God used individuals as flawed as us to do great things. And this should give us hope to do great things as well.
3. What Is Your Profession?
Another interesting tidbit that came from Jonah’s story involved the sailors that were taking Jonah to Tarshish so he could flee from God.
When the storm came upon them and the waters became extremely dangerous, they all started praying to their Gods. This shows how bad the storm must have been. These are sea hardened sailors who live on the boat. For a storm to be so severe that they go to their last resort of pleading with their gods to save them should tell us the magnitude of the situation.
After they go down to wake Jonah, they eventually decide this supernatural storm has come upon them because of him. What they do next is odd.
“So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” -Jonah 1: 8
The chapter goes on to tell us Jonah answered their questions. Why is this important? It is important because of the question “What kind of work do you do?” Jonah’s answer to this would have struck fear into the hearts of all the men. We don’t have an exact quote from Jonah, but what he would have answered is “I am a prophet.”
With the sailors already admitting that the storm was supernatural, and having already decided that it was Jonah’s fault, for Jonah to tell them he has devoted his life to telling people God’s word would have been awful news. How should they respond to that? This God that they don’t know has placed them in a life threatening situation. They’re afraid of throwing Jonah overboard because he is a prophet of this great God, but their ship also can’t take much more of this storm.
However, like everything else in history, all things are working for His good, and this near death experience is the catalyst that leads all of these sailor to turn to the one, true God.