I’m currently working on a historical biography of Jonah for my History of Israel class, and let me just say this: You really don’t want to disobey God’s call for your life. Seriously. No matter how hard it might be, it’s just a bad idea to go against what God tells you to do.
I’m working on the paper right now, so this has to be short, but the first part of the story goes basically like this:
God told Jonah to go somewhere and do something. Jonah went somewhere else to do something else. God didn’t like this, so Jonah got swallowed by a whale. Just give that a couple seconds to sink in. The guy got swallowed by a whale.
by a WHALE.
And the thing is, he didn’t die. He lived inside a whale swimming around in the ocean for three days and three nights. Then he got thrown up by the whale. Normally you wouldn’t think of getting thrown up by a whale as being a good thing, but for Jonah, it was about the best thing that could’ve happened to him. Because here are your options: (1) die; (2) live inside a whale your whole life (hope you like sushi), then die; (3) get thrown up on shore and live (can you say “scarred for life”?). Jonah was probably happy to get thrown up by the whale. Except that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time” (3:1), which means that he didn’t get out of God’s call for him to go somewhere and do something.
This goes to show that not only is it heinously wicked and arrogant to reject the clear commands and commissions of God, it’s also eminently foolish. It’s somewhat humorous to think about an Israelite prophet getting swallowed whole and subsequently regurgitated by a whale in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s less funny to think of how many of us would be spending our weekends inside of large marine animals if the Lord chose to correct our disobedience in the same way He corrected Jonah’s. It’s the kind of story that’s funny for a couple minutes and then gets really scary.
If God has something for you to do today and you know it, obey Him and do it. There’s a lot more to the story of Jonah than this, but there isn’t less.