Daily Thought for: 26th August
From the first record of Jonah, we learn he came from Gath-Hepher, which
is located a few miles from Nazareth, 2 Kgs. 14. 25. Nineveh was the capital
of Assyria, and the cruelty of the Ninevites, coupled with their ruthless
oppression of any enemy, was well known. No one could subdue them, and
the only hope for their enemies was that the judgement of God would fall
upon them. When the word of the Lord came to Jonah, and Gods command held
out the prospect of Nineveh receiving the mercy of God, it was more than
Jonahs sectarian spirit could cope with and his only alternative was to
try and find a way of escape. We might have sympathy with Jonah in that
it was understandable that retribution for disobedience should be brought
upon this evil people; nevertheless, Scripture constantly bears witness
to the exhaustless mercy and grace of God towards men.
That God chose Jonah might remind us of His sovereign ways in moulding His men and breaking the will of His servants to produce within them more of the divine way. Jonah came from a position where divine communication was direct, specific and clear, yet he resorted to the uncertain ways of self. He found a ship, he paid the fare which was possibly well within his means, and fell asleep. How sad to be sleeping when others are perishing, especially when we have a word from the Lord for them.
The intervention of God, and the manner of it, brings out something in Jonah which is to his credit. He recognizes the hand of God in the circumstances, and offers to sacrifice his own life for the preservation of the innocent mariners. Jonah could never have known that, amidst the confusion in the boat and the treacherous conditions of the sea, the hand of God was at work in a way which would bring about his own recovery and even cause the men on the ship to honour God. Like Jonah, some of Gods people have testified of times when in a state of backsliding and departure from God they have been the instrument for others to hear of Gods salvation. The extent of the mariners conviction may be debatable, but they were sufficiently convinced of the power of God to make resolve before Him. The judgement of God on Jonah brought blessing to others.