As a pastor, it has been my practice to take our church through entire books of the Bible in what is called expository Bible teaching. That’s just a fancy way of saying the point of the text is the point of the sermon. For six weeks, I went through the book of Jonah verse by verse, and quickly realized that our entire church was connecting at an elevated level with the prophet Jonah.
The book of Jonah is often misunderstood. For example, some have made Jonah a story about a whale. Jonah has become the favorite theme for Vacation Bible Schools across the country. Yet, the narrative of Jonah is not about a whale, it’s about God. A powerful God, a patient God, and a sovereign God.
If you have read this brief, four-chapter book, you may have noticed there is a lot of running going on. It has been suggested that:
- in chapter one Jonah runs from God.
- in chapter two Jonah runs to God.
- in chapter three Jonah runs with God
- and in chapter four Jonah tries to outrun God.
What chapter of life are you in? Are you running to God, or away from God? Jonah has become the blunt of our jokes as he is often referred to as the angry little prophet that needed a time out in the belly of a whale.
He has been likened to what not to do rather than what to do. But could it be that Jonah is simply being transparent? That his story is not about him, but about the character of God?
What do we see in the book of Jonah? We see a patient, loving, gracious, kind, and merciful God. We see a God who allows Jonah to run. We see a God who allows Jonah to return. We see a God who teaches, who explains, who disciplines, and who offers grace beyond what Jonah deserved.
Jonah had some bad days, bad weeks, bad months. His running took him to far away places. Yet God was always close. Jonah is a reminder to all of us that no matter how far we run, no matter what we have done, God, through this amazing book and ultimately through his son, Jesus, wants all of us to know that you cannot outrun his grace. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Jonah did not get what he deserved. And today, all of us can come to God through His son, Jesus, and be reconciled back to Him.
Today ask yourself, are you running to God, or away from God? And remember no matter how far we have traveled, God will meet you right where you are. Come to Him in your brokenness. Come to Him just as you are.