The book of Jonah is quite an interesting book because there are so many interesting literary uses by the author. For instance God’s prophet, Jonah, twice is willing to be killed but the pagan sailors and the people of the sinful city are found worshipping God after they are spared from death. The pagan sailors and the people of Nineveh worship Jonah’s God. Jonah prays in the whale and most likely repents. However, his actions do not back up his repentance in the chapters following his prayer. He gets angry about the plant dying that covered him, but he cared less about the sailors, people of Nineveh and animals dying.
Several times the phrase “go down” is used. He went down into the ship, down to Joppa, down into the fish. Several uses of personification are used as well. In verse 4 the original reflects that the ship was thinking or considering breaking up. It is a very interesting book that uses several literary devices in order to help the reader have certain characteristics of the story emphasized in certain ways
We need to see this theme in Jonah: God’s sovereign compassion in the midst of man’s decisions.
Think about all the moves Jonah made and then the moves God makes sovereignly:
- God’s prophet runs.
- God brings pagan sailors to himself because of Jonah running.
- Jonah runs.
- God creates a storm and prepares a fish to be on call to swallow Jonah.
- Jonah delivers an 8 word message.
- God uses that 8 word message to bring an entire pagan city to repentance toward God.
- Jonah sat outside the city to watch the explosion of the city (popcorn and soda in hand).
- God builds a plant then destroys it with a worm.
God’s Compassion to the sailors. Those poor sailors they have to throw out all the cargo. How are they shown compassion? It could have been worse they could have died even though they were pagan. Pagan sailors acknowledged Gods sovereignty and they feared him with a great fear and offered him sacrifice and gave vowels. They may have really truly come to God.
God’s Compassion to Nineveh. Nineveh is described as a great city that has great wickedness, but God doesn’t destroy them.
God’s Compassion toward Jonah. He spares his life. He also gives Jonah shade. More than anything He shows great mercy even though Jonah is opposing God’s will for his life.
Here is the application for us. God uses wicked and sinful people to accomplish his purposes, like us. He is God and we are not. Often we seek our own wills rather than the will of God. We believe our decisions surpass God’s, so we sin. However, even when we seek our own will God is continuously compassionate and merciful to us. He sovereignly overcomes our bad decisions and works good through us. We can be condemning, critical, selfish, and uncompassionate to people around us. Consider the key verses of the book of Jonah which are 4:10-11, And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Asked another way, Isn’t God a better decision maker than you because His character is better than yours? Who is the god of your life, you or Him?
- Are there any Christians I will not forgive?
- Are there any unbelievers I refuse to love?
- Is there anything in my life that I am choosing my sovereignty over God’s?
- Are there any current events that I am struggling to entrust to God over what I think should happen?
- Who do I need to pray for asking God to bring them to salvation?
- Talk to God about how you have seen his sovereignty in your decisions recently or in the past.
- Praise the Lord for his specific acts of compassion and rulership to you over the past years.
- Specially praise God for the Gospel where He has shown His Lordship and compassion in your life!