|Posted on June 1, 2019 at 3:25 PM|
As the crowd pressed in on Jesus, he said, “This evil generation keeps asking me to show them a miraculous sign. But the only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah. What happened to him was a sign to the people of Nineveh that God had sent him. What happens to the Son of Man will be a sign to these people that he was sent by God.” Luke 11:29-30
This verse is also found in Matthew 12:39-40 to get a better understanding of what was said let’s take a little field trip to the Old Testament, turn to the book of Jonah. Its 4 chapters long, each chapter only 2- 3 pages in my 5x4 book it is 8 and a half pages long. It would serve you well to get your Word out and take the 15 minutes to read it, to familiarize yourself with the story because as Jesus said “the only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah.”
To sum up the story it begins by God giving a message to Jonah. The message was “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgement against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” Similarly the message God gave to Jesus was:
Matthew 3:1…His message was “Repent for your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is…near, or has come or is coming soon.” Matthew 4:17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent for your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is...near or has come, or is coming soon.”
Mark 1:14-15…Jesus went to Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News or the Good News of the Kingdom of God. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17
It’s important to remember that God had already judged the world even before He sent His son. He sent His son like Jonah to announce, to proclaim, to let people know “Hey guys you think that our Father doesn’t know or see or hear what you are doing, but He sent me to say He has seen it all. I think the best thing you can each do is recognize that what you are doing is wrong, immediately stop what you are doing.” That is the whole repent part but He took it a step further then he added “and start doing what is right.” That is the whole turn to God part. And the reason he gives that we should do this is because “the Kingdom of God is near or here or on its way.”
Either way you choose to translate it, this is how I see it there is a good and an evil way of living life in this world I know because I have lived both ways. There is a right and a wrong way of living life in this world and it has come. I couldn’t deny it. I couldn’t keep pretending I didn’t know the difference between what is right and wrong, good and evil. I may have looked grown in my thirties but I acted like a child when I refused to acknowledge this truth.
Back to Jonah…well unlike Jesus, Jonah refused to give this message and “went in the opposite direction (of Nineveh) to get away from the LORD. A direction we all go when we refuse to do what is right. Away from what is right to what is wrong. Away from what is good to what is evil. He boarded a ship but the LORD punished his disobedience by sending a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. The sailors on board had no clue who Jonah was or what he had done. Storms happen so they did what they knew to do and pray to their gods for help. They lost things to lighten the load but the storm wouldn’t cease, all the while Jonah oblivious to all was sound asleep below. How many times have I gone and did the opposite of what the LORD directed me to do only to hurt people along the way who were just casualties of my poor way of life. Opposite of what was right and good. I was like a tornado. It didn’t matter who I hurt, what damage I caused if you were in my life path you were involved.
When the captain found Jonah asleep he said “How can you sleep at a time like this? Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives!” A drowning man will reach for anything and everyone to save himself. Unknowing who this passenger was or what God he prayed to the captain was like all gods on deck, if we are to make it out alive one of them has to be the right God one of them has to hear us and save us all. It took me thirty something years to find the One that could even though He was in plain sight.
The crew decided to try to figure out who was the cause of the storm and when Jonah was identified he confessed that he was running away from the LORD the sailors groaned “Oh why did you do that?” he repented in verse 1:12 by saying “Throw me into the sea and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” Jonah didn’t shift the clouds, command the wind to blow and pour out the rain but he knew that his own actions were the consequence of his disobedience. My life has seen some massive storms and I have reaped the consequences for my disobedience. On the flip side I have also been a casualty of the disobedience of others. Nothing I have ever done has ever been so hidden from the eyes of the LORD that I did not pay a penalty for. Christ paid the ultimate penalty of death for me even though I have deserved death for the many times I have sinned against God in His mercy He refused to allow death to overtake me though I know He would have been justified in doing so.
Throughout the story of Jonah the words “The LORD had arranged” appears in the NLT. The LORD has always arranged a way out for me. He has always given me another option to go. Sometimes I just had to stop what I was doing. Sometimes it required me turning around and going the other direction. In this case the LORD had arranged for Jonah to remain inside what might be called a whale or in the Word a “great fish” not a very comfortable or pleasant five star resort. An uncomfortable place that probably smelled was cold and dark and damp. It’s not like I went from disobeying God to the next living life in the palace there was a pit and a prison stay in between my time of transition. And in those dark uncomfortable times I drew near to God and like Jonah I prayed like chapter 2.
I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called to You from the land of the dead, and LORD, You heard me!...’O LORD, you have driven me from Your presence. Yet I will look once more toward Your holy Temple…I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But You, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!...I will offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing songs of praise to Your name and I will do what You have said For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.
Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out…Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time:” Jonah 2:10-3:1
I am grateful for a God of second chances and a God of sixteen thousand chances one for each day. Each day is a chance I have been given to live right, to do what is good. To turn from my sinful ways and replace them with the ways that Christ lived on this earth. Like Jonah God says to each of us “Get up and go” He says it every day I awake on this side of Heaven. Get up and go and share the Good News that Jesus lived to tell us we are all God’s children. God is His Father and your Father too.
We are all capable of doing what is good. Our sins have been forgiven in our brother Jesus so we don’t have to live under a cloud of guilt and condemnation that keeps us from doing what is right and good. We can walk with our heads up toward the sky, look to our Father and look to the light He sent into this world to show us how to live in it and not of it. That our Father has a very good plan for all of us and it is a future and a hope for what is good so that many will be saved.
Our lives are like a stone thrown into water it ripples and reverberates. Our life has a ripple effect and we may not see it but it is seen by many. I was still sinning in the same way my grandfather did I was still worshipping other gods in the same way my ancestors did people I didn’t even know. Until the day I read all the journals my first ancestors left behind in the Word and realized the way I had been living was wrong not just for me, but my mother, her mother and her mother. I don’t know where we got it wrong but I know it stopped with me and my family that from this generation on a line was drawn.
When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, He changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened. Jonah 3:10
In chapter four Jonah is upset with God because he knew that God would change His mind. He didn’t see the point in doing what was right which is why he ran away. And his point was that he knew God was merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and eager to turn back from destroying His people. He was so mad he wanted to die for all that God had put him through in his life. And in a calm fatherly love God responded “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Nothing this world did to Jesus was right. Nothing that God allowed this world to do to any of His children is right. But what Jesus did wasn’t for Jesus. It was for God. Me sharing His Word isn’t for me it is the work God gave me to do in spite of everything I have suffered through to do it. Jesus didn’t complain “Why do I have to tell these people anything? Why do I have to turn water to wine, call the enemy out of them, heal the sick? I heal one there are millions of others sick. I feed one there are thousands more. I cast out one demon another goes into someone else. I turn water into wine and the next thing you know they want me to raise the dead back to life.” No, my brother just did what he did because God put it in his heart to do it and he didn’t question, argue or complain. It wasn’t about the one he saved it was about everyone else who would benefit knowing if he could, we could that we have the same power that raised Christ from the dead living in each of us to save even more Ephesians 1:19 even if it is just one, he only had to rise from the dead once, once is all it takes.
So once again the LORD showed Jonah by example “The LORD God arranged” in Jonah 4:6 “God also arranged” in verse 7 “God arranged” verse 8 Then God said again “Is it right for you to be angry…?” I imagine all the things God arranged in my life to show me His existence things I would not have chosen to experience or walk through. But then again had He not arranged for the way my life to go as it did I would not be here. So however it took for Him to get me from point birth to eternal life I am grateful even for the ways I would not have chosen to get there I will be grateful when I finish this race.
God sent his son because He felt sorry for me. Felt sorry for the mess I was making of my life. I was a lost sheep without a shepherd. Every shepherd he sent before Christ just drew me further away from Him. So He sent His son to reveal to me something none of those shepherds ever did that I was of God. I had His Spirit in me. Not only could I speak good things but I could also do things. Walk the talk, like Jonah I even had the power to calm the storm, to tame the tornado raging in me. By his sacrifice I was forgiven once and for all time. I had the freedom to sin no more. To start again, to do what was right and good where ever I was placed. I could give glory to God not because my life was trial, trouble, sorrow free but because I knew God was with me that He could, He would save me till the day I am perfect and complete needing nothing not even this world and then I would be with my Lord.