“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish… ‘Salvation is from the Lord.’” – Jonah 2:1;9
The story of Jonah in the Old Testament is an excellent example of how a believer wrestles with his or her faith. In the second verse of the book of Jonah, we see God giving Jonah the command to go to Nineveh and warn the people of their wickedness before God.
In just the third verse of the book, we see Jonah’s lack of disobedient faith as he travels in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh towards Tarshish.
Many of us know how the story goes during Jonah’s voyage to Tarshish. Scripture says, “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).
One surprising thing about this story of Jonah is that he “rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). The key being, “he fled from the presence of the Lord.” Take a moment to realize that a prophet of God thought he could somehow escape His omnipresence. How foolish!
Whether Jonah did not go to Nineveh out of fear or out of nationalistic pride is not clear. What is clear, however, is that Jonah did not trust God in obedience to go to Nineveh.
It took three days in a smelly fish for Jonah to realize that no matter how hard he may try, there is no running away from God and His commands. We finally see Jonah’s repentance when “Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish” (Jonah 2:1). After the fish spit Jonah out, he was finally faithful to God’s command to proclaim God’s Word in Nineveh. As a result, a mighty revival broke out in one of the most wicked cities of that time.
Most likely, God won’t bring a great fish to swallow you if you’ve been struggling lately in your faithfulness in evangelism. If that were the case, thousands of churches in our country would be in the bellies of great fish! However, God may still get your attention in a way that will get you back to faithful obedience in His Great Commission command, just like Jonah.
Questions for Thought
1. Do you find yourself struggling in your faith to proclaim God’s Word in your relationships, neighborhood, and city like Jonah? If so, what factors contribute to not trusting God to evangelize? Could it be fear, laziness, or inadequacy?
2 . What will it take for you to be faithful to God’s Mission 1:8 command?
Think of three lost people you know, whether a family member, friend, co-worker, or classmate. Commit to praying the three C’s for them on a “My Three” card: Conviction of sin, a Contact for evangelism, and Conversion for Salvation. Suppose you commit to praying for your three lost contacts daily. In that case, the likelihood those three people will receive God’s gracious gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will significantly increase. Who knows, maybe our city here in Dallas may experience a great awakening as God did through Jonah in Nineveh if we are faithful to His Mission 1:8 initiative.
Learn more about Mission 1:8 WIN NOW here!
Associate Minister of Students
PJ is from Memphis, Tennessee, where he grew up and served at Bellevue Baptist Church and worked for Go Tell Student Camps. PJ earned his Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has already begun his work on the PhD program. PJ just married his wife, Sara, in April.