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The Weekly Word: The message of Jonah is more than the fish

By Taylor Kemp, The Bridge Church, Charles City

Most of us have probably heard of the story of Jonah and the whale. The man was swallowed by a big fish, survived in there for three days, and then lived to tell about it. A pretty incredibly story!

And when we think of Jonah, we tend to think of the big fish part. However, out of the entire book of Jonah, the fish is only mentioned three times. I think we tend to forget the underlying theme throughout all of Jonah.

In Jonah we see a man called to warn the wicked city of Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, a nation that conquered and enslaved Israel. Assyria was well known for their cruelty and horrific brutality and Nineveh sat as a symbol of that cruelty to the Israelites.

When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn them that God saw their wickedness and they needed to repent, Jonah didn’t really want to go. Shocking huh? Instead, he got on a ship going the opposite way.

God then confronted Jonah with a great storm and Jonah convinced a terrified group of sailors to cast him into the sea – after which the sea immediately became calm, and Jonah was swallowed by a fish. The sailors then feared and praised God as he was in complete control of the seas, something that their gods could not do.

After being in the fish for three days, God had that fish spit him out, and then Jonah obeyed and continued to Nineveh. After three days of preaching in Nineveh, the entire city cried out to God in repentance, and God forgave them.

There are many things we see and learn about God in the book of Jonah, but in this very brief overview we see God’s grace in both planned and unplanned situations.

Jonah was supposed to go to Nineveh but fled the opposite direction in disobedience. Even though this was not God’s original intention, He still revealed himself and his grace to the sailors on the ship.

Even though Jonah was trying to run and hide from God, He still showed Jonah grace and extended a second chance by sending a giant fish.

And then when Jonah finally obeyed and went along with the original plan to go to Nineveh, God then showed grace and extended a second chance to the entire city because they repented.

I think we also see that we cannot “out-sin” God’s capacity to forgive. God forgave Jonah’s blatant disobedience, and He even forgave an entire city known for their terrible cruelty.

In a couple of weeks, at The Bridge Church, we will be doing a much deeper dive into the book of Jonah and unpacking what is all in there, to which we would love to have you.

But let me remind you that there is no sin in your life that God doesn’t want to forgive. However, it takes repentance on our part first. God is waiting to extend the gift of grace, if only we are willing to receive it with repentance.

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