Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:91

God’s Call to Jonah

“Jonah” … “Jonah!”

“Lord! Is that You again?”

“Remember when I sent you to talk to King Jeroboam?”

“Yeah, that was a lot of fun.”

“Liked talking to Jeroboam, did you? I have a new assignment for you.”

“Really? What is it?”

“I need you to be a missionary in … Nineveh.”

“Nineveh! I can’t go to Nineveh. They do terrible things to people there. Those Assyrians rip out people’s tongues so they don’t have to listen to the screams when they skin them alive just for fun. I’m scared to go there. I love you, Lord, but this is not reasonable. In fact, this is about as unreasonable as it gets.”

“Was it reasonable that Adam and Eve broke their trust in Me when they ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden? Was crossing the Red Sea reasonable? Was Jericho reasonable? I give unreasonable things to people to do to get their attention, so they know I’m still here.”

“But … but … but, You don’t know what those people are really like. All their creepy gods—they even have a fish god named Dagon.”

“I think it’s a perfect match to send you. You need to go and give them hope. I’ve already been there. People are hungry for truth after the pandemic whipped through, and many died.2 Then there was the total eclipse of the sun.3 More people died when the big earthquake hit.4

“People were terrified and questioned, ‘Where were our gods? Why didn’t they protect us from the sickness? Why didn’t our gods stop the sun from blacking out in the middle of the day? Why didn’t our gods save us when the earth shook?’

“I had to do unreasonable things to get their attention. I’ve set it up so you can be successful. You just have to go there and tell them about Me and what I can do for them. Besides, I have a hunch they’re going to respect your opinion about fish by the time you get there.”

Jonah Rejected God’s Call

What did Jonah try to do? God’s plan was not his plan, so he decided to run from God. Instead of traveling to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, a city of 120,000 people and a little more than 500 miles away from where he lived, he bought a ticket on a ship to sail five times further in the opposite direction to Tarshish.

When they set sail, the weather was beautiful, perfect—warm and sunny with a light ocean breeze. After they had sailed into the open ocean and beyond any visible land, the wind kicked up. The ship rocked back and forth in the waves, almost dipping into the water, but God’s angels kept it afloat. The storm was so bad that the sailors, including the captain, begged their gods: “Please save us.”

Where was Jonah? In his room in the bottom of the ship—sleeping.

When the crew figured out where Jonah was, they banged on his door. Above the wind, they screamed at Jonah: “Pray to your God! Who are you anyway?”

Jonah responded, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9).5 While Jonah was running away from his calling to Nineveh, he started to preach the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:6–7 to the sailors—the same message God wanted Jonah to preach to the Ninevites.

When the sailors discovered that the storm raged because of Jonah, they picked him up and chucked him into the sea. Immediately, the waves stopped crashing, the wind ceased, and the lights of the sky shattered the murky clouds.

Down, down, down he went, nearly drowning, but God was not finished with Jonah. As he sunk into the depths of the water, a giant fish with a wide-open mouth swam up underneath him. As soon as Jonah fell past the lips of the fish, the mouth closed over Jonah and swallowed him.

Jonah slid down the fish’s slippery throat and plopped with a splash into the belly. Oh … so dark, and hot, and stinky! Lots of other slimy, half-digested sea critters floated around him.

“Jonah, do I have your attention now? Is it reasonable? You get three days in that slimy mess to rethink your decision.”

As the fish swam back and forth, up and down, Jonah slushed from one side to the other, up and down, in the vat of stomach acid—seaweed wrapped around his head. Jonah did think about what he had done.

Jonah Realized His Error

After three days in the fish jail, Jonah apologized to God. “Lord, I’m so sorry I tried to run away from what you wanted me to do. Please forgive me. I will do as you commanded.”

With that, the fish swam close to the shore and threw up Jonah onto the beach. Soaked in acid, he staggered to his feet. “Lord, I’m on my way to give the Ninevites Your message.”

Call to Action

Too often God’s people are sleeping and do not want to do what God has called them to do. However, God knows where you are, even when you try to run away from Him. Also, He is a God of second chances like He gave Jonah a second chance. You see, He has a plan designed especially for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.”6

Like Joshua 1:9 tells us, God is always within our reach, so He knows where we are at all times, even if we try to run away. In that case, if God is always with us, do we need to be afraid when He calls us, even if the situation is less than desirable? Are we going to make God work overtime and do insane things to get our attention?

Even if God’s plan seems impossible or unreasonable or simply just doesn’t make sense, move forward with what the Lord has planned for you with courage and with strength. Let God perform a miracle in your heart.

  1. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
  2. “When a Plague Hits a Country,” Bible Study Lessons, https://www.biblestudylessons.net/articles/evidences/Nineveh1.html (accessed June 29, 2023).
  3. Tom Hobson, “All Things Assyrian: Jonah and the Eclipse in Ancient Nineveh,” Assyrian International News Agency, http://www.aina.org/ata/20170807110537.htm (accessed June 29, 2023).
  4. Steve Law, “Biblical Quake Confirmed, Prophesied by Amos,” Patterns of Evidence, January 20, 2019, https://www.patternsofevidence.com/2019/01/20/biblical-quake-confirmed/ (accessed June 29, 2023).
  5. Scripture taken from the King James Version.
  6. The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

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