Tuesday, September 18, 2007


As a result of Jonah finding himself in the stomach of the fish he calls unto God with a prayer of repentance. This prayer involves an attitude of thanksgiving. Imagine that. Jonah is in the belly of a fish and he responds to his circumstances with thanksgiving. Most people would respond to these divinely orchestrated circumstances with anger and bitterness. The truth is that every circumstance in our life will result in our becoming bitter or better. The choice is really ours. Jonah chose to respond with thanksgiving.

Next we see that this prayer of repentance includes an action of obedience. Jonah proclaims that he will now pay his vow. Jonah had made a vow as a prophet of God. That vow was to go wherever God commanded him to go and to preach whatever message God commanded him to preach. But when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against their wickedness, he refused. Instead, he went the exact opposite direction when he hopped on a boat and headed toward the city of Tarshish. Jonah didn’t just say he was sorry. He didn’t just feel bad about his actions. He was willing to turn and do what he should have done all along. That’s repentance. To repent means “to turn.” Jonah made the decision to quit going to Tarshsih and turn around and head back to Nineveh which was God’s command all along.

The truth is that all of us as followers of Christ have areas in our lives in which we need to repent. We all have areas where we know God’s direction but we have chosen to go the opposite direction. God wants us to forgive but many of us are choosing to hold a grudge. God wants us to share our faith, but many of us are keeping silent. God wants us to be good stewards of our money and our giving to the church but many of us are selfishly squandering our resources. As followers of Christ we must daily have an attitude of repentance. Every time we open our Bibles, each and every time we hear a sermon preached, we must look for areas in our lives in which “a turn” is needed.

Finally, Jonah’s prayer involved an analysis of sovereignty. Jonah acknowledges that, “salvation only comes from God.” We can run from God when we don’t like what He commands but in the end we will discover that it is always better when we do it God’s way from the beginning.

In the closing verse of chapter two, God commanded the fish to vomit up Jonah at an exact location and he does. Now I am the type of person who hates to vomit. Even when I know it must ultimately come, I will fight vomiting as long and as hard as I can. And when it does come, I am one of those “violent vomitters.” When it finally comes, anyone within a 10-mile radius can hear me at work and the haz-met team is needed to clean the room when I am finished. I am only 5’ 8” and weigh right at 200 pounds and yet I am amazed at the volume that comes out when I vomit. I can’t even begin to imagine the volume that would come out of what may have been a 100 foot long whale. What do I learn from this? I learn that the way of repentance isn’t always neat and easy. Sometimes it is hard and messy but it is always the best rout to go,

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