The small or minor prophets in the OT are categorized that way not to minimize their importance or suggest that their physical size was in any way compromised. Instead, it means that they wrote "short" books that could be read through with ease, without taking weeks to complete. I will be concentrating on the small profits for the next few weeks, starting with every child's favorite, "The Book of Jonah."
This popular Sunday School story at first blush might seem to many to be a waste of time and energy; however, as you have seen in prior in this blog, huge things can come in the tiniest of packages...Such is the case with the four chapters in this book. This miniature story about the great fish that swallowed Jonah whole, has little to do with the deep spiritual meaning surrounding this mixed metaphor...Do I believe that God changed the weather to scare the crew into giving up Jonah to the deep? Do I believe that God had a special fish ready to swallow him whole? The answer is an emphatic yes, but to miss the metaphor is like leaving in the bottom of the 9th inning when your team is losing. To savor the a hard fought victory with a walk off grand slam is the reason you went to the game in the first place. It is quite the same with the first 8 innings of Jonah's book. If you think the story is over too quickly, you miss the most important last three outs.
How many of us know from God the right way path for our life without hesitation? In my estimation, half of us know and ignore, and the rest don't care enough to know. Jonah knew exactly what God's plan was, not only for him, but also the people of Ninevah. This kind of certainty that can only come from the Word of God. We have that same unmistakable radar going on in our Soul everyday. For example, we know that we should not lie. We know that small lies are the same as big lies, but how often do we choose the path of convenience, justifying our sinful direction all the way. Jonah ran from what he absolutely knew he should do, because he had a built in prejudice against those terrible Ninevite's. Maybe ran is the wrong choice of words, because he actually tried to sail away from God. Imagine knowing the Almighty like he did, and then making bee-line in the opposite direction. Jonah did not delay, deceive himself, or pretend he did not hear God. He just went 180 degrees in the opposite direction, hoping that God would let him get away with it.
So God made him wait in the belly of a fish for three days after being tossed overboard by the crew. I believe the lesson here is two-fold. One is that when God chooses to use you, and you head in the other direction, the elasticity of His grace will only stretch so far, before you are tossed into your personal sea of despair or chaos, reminding you that He comes first no matter what you think or where you go. It took Jonah only 3 days of this despair to get himself back on track with the Lord. Some of us take much longer...In fact, many are still running from that, "still, small voice," right now. If you believe you have ducked out of sight, you are only kidding yourself. Trust me, I did it for years!
Ever be so distraught, so afraid or so depressed that you made a deal with God right then and there? It went something like this..."Oh God, if you get me out of this, I will NEVER do this again, and I will donate more to the church, attend church, visit those less fortunate," etc. We have all made the deal, but only a tiny percentage of us keep the promise for more than a few days. Why do we only turn to Him in those great times of need? When we taste success, who do we turn from first? Jonah said it best with this statement, "they that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." Sound familiar?
God bless and thank you for reading...
The Digital Disciple