Updated: Sep 4, 2021
Reference: Jonah chapters 1 and 2
Heart of the Story: Jonah was an Israelite prophet who did not want to obey his God, i.e., go to Nineveh and try to convince the Assyrians to repent.
Story Line: Most children know about Jonah. He is the prophet who disobeyed God. God told him to go to Nineveh and exhort the Ninevites to repent. Jonah didn’t want to go there! After all, why should he, an Israelite, try to convince the Assyrians to repent? Jonah got on a ship bound for Tarshish, in the opposite direction from Nineveh. Jonah believed that if he left the land of the Israelites, he could escape God.
A huge storm occurred in the Mediterranean Sea. Even experienced sailors were frightened. They decided to cast lots to see who had disobeyed their god and brought the storm on them. The lot fell to Jona. He admitted that he disobeyed God by being on the ship bound for Tarshish. Jonah told the sailors throw him overboard. Reluctantly, the ship’s sailors threw Jonah overboard. Once Jonah was off the ship, the storm abated. The ship proceeded on its way. But Jonah was left in the Mediterranean Sea.
Later Jonah wrote about the experience (Jonah chapter 2); consequently, we know what happened to him and what he thought while in the sea and in the belly of the whale.
Jonah described how the sea waters closed over him and seaweeds wrapped around his head. Jonah noted that he was at the roots of the ocean, suggesting that he fell to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Then a giant fish swallowed Jonah. He remained in the belly of the fish for three days. Then, the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Ugh, I bet he was slimy). The land was on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, not all that far from Nineveh. Jonah went to Nineveh and preached repentance. The Ninevites repented; but, that is another story.
Pondering what happened. Capture means catching or gaining control by force.
I have been captured, or caught, by Christ; and I am so glad. Now, I have to stop struggling and let God control my life. The challenge is that God won’t control me by force. Bummer, I wish God would just “make” me do the right things. But, God doesn’t operate that way. He gave Jonah time to contemplate his disobedience and options for moving forward. Jonah prayed and decided to obey God is his life was spared.
God gave me time and will give most Christians time to do it God’s way. Just like Jonah decided to do it God’s way after he met adversity—in Jonah’s case major adversity, Christians meet adversity in their walk with God. I am a woman who came to psychological maturity in the late 20th century. My mantra was “I’m a self-made! I can do it myself!” I am no more a self-made woman than the prophet Jonah was able to escape God.
Perhaps one of my reasons for loving Jonah was that he put his actions and thoughts out there for the world to read. This Israelite prophet sent to the Assyrians showed us his struggles and gave us hope for meeting life’s challenges if we are captured by Christ.
Reflection: Do you ever say, “I can do it myself.” The other day I read that when we do not pray, we declare our independence from God.
Copyright August 20, 2021;
Carolyn A. Roth. All rights reserved.