In my Dare to Make the Wise Choice series I will share a story from my curriculum and sometimes I might comment on the story and how it applies to our lives as believers and why it was chosen to be part of this curriculum. Fair warning: this is a very long post compared to most of my other posts.
Dare to Make the Wise Choice: Go
Today’s lesson comes from a book in the Old Testament titled Jonah, which is also the name of the man in today’s story. Jonah was one of God’s special messengers called prophets, God would give Jonah messages to share with the people he sent him to.
One day, God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people there to repent (apologize to God) for their wrongdoings and turn from their evil ways or God was going to destroy the city. Usually when Jonah heard what God wanted him to do, he would do it without hesitation but this time Jonah did not want to go.
He had heard of the awful things the people in Nineveh had done, they were evil people; Jonah did not want to save them, he did not care if God destroyed them. Instead of making the Wise Choice and Daring to Go where God wanted him to go, Jonah tried to run away from God. Instead heading in the direction of Nineveh, Jonah went in the completely opposite direction and got on boat to go to a different city called Tarshish.
While Jonah was on the boat a huge storm started raging over the sea, rocking the boat; the other men on the boat were scared because they did not know what was happening, but Jonah knew it was because he was disobeying God. Jonah went to the other men on the boat and told them that the storm was because he was trying to run away from his God and they should throw him over board to stop the storm from destroying the boat. At first the men did not want to do this because they thought it would kill Jonah but as the storm got worse and worse, they knew that’s what they had to do.
The men threw him over board but instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed whole by a large fish in the water. Jonah was alive inside of the big fish’s belly for 3 days and 3 nights, and he spent the entire time praying. He prayed to God saying that if he was given another chance at life then he would do anything God told him and he would never disobey God again.
After the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the big fish, the fish threw up Jonah up on the shore. Jonah praised God from letting him live, but then God told him to go to Nineveh again. However, this time Jonah listened. He Dared to Go to Nineveh and tell them that if they did not apologize to God for doing evil things and stop doing them then God was going to destroy their city. He spent 3 days telling everyone he saw in the city what God told him, he even talked to the king. To Jonah’s surprise, the people did repent and they stopped doing evil things and started worshiping God. God forgave the people and did not destroy the city.
Memory Verse for the Week:
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people.”
I decided that Dare to Go was an appropriate Wise Choice to post as my first post in this series, seeing as I am preparing to “Go” in ministry.
The book of Jonah is a short one in the Old Testament, being only four chapters but it is packed with big lessons in obedience and going where, and to do what, God says to go and to do.
Usually when I have seen the story of Jonah taught, it is about how God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah disobeyed, God gave Jonah a second chance, Jonah goes to Nineveh, the people of Nineveh turn from their wicked ways and God saves them from his wrath, and that is usually where the story ends. But that isn’t where the story ends in the Book of Jonah chapter 4. In chapter 4, after God has spared the city of Nineveh, Jonah is angry that God saved these people. God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to tell the people there to repent and change their ways, but Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he had heard how wicked the people were there and did not want to be the one to have to go tell them to change. Jonah tried to run away from God, but we serve an All Knowing and All Seeing God so there is nowhere to go where God does not see us or know what we are doing and God punished him by having him be swallowed by the fish but not letting him drown. After God saved Jonah from drowning and saved him from being eaten by the fish and Jonah finally went to Nineveh to do what he was told to do, he did not think that God would save the people of Nineveh.
Even though the people of Nineveh had been a wicked people, they were still God’s creation and He loved them. Jonah judged the people of Nineveh to be unworthy of being saved but it was not his place to make that judgement. God did not want to see Nineveh destroyed because He still loved the people there. God was happy to see Nineveh change and begin worshiping Him because He wants to be worshiped by all of his creation. At the end of chapter 4 in the Book of Jonah, God tells Jonah that he has absolutely no right to be angry about God saving those people, especially when the people had turned from the evil things they had done. In Jonah’s disobedience and anger, he was no better than the people in Nineveh, but God still saved him.
It is in God’s character to want sinful people to repent of their sins and worship him. That is why He sent His Son to earth so that He, Jesus, could save us from our sins, so that He could bridge the gap between us, sinful people, and God. We are all sinners and none of us are worthy of being saved, but God chose to save us anyway. Just like Jonah, we have absolutely no right to judge whether another person or group of people are worthy of being saved or not. God still desires for us to go out into the world and share His good news about His saving grace, so He will be worshiped by all the nations of the world.