The Way of the Warrior Week 18 - The Warrior's Journey®

The Way of the Warrior Week 18

Author: Nathan Werner,

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We are going to transition to look at another Old Testament believer – Jonah.  His story is one of the classics of ancient literature, and imbedded in his story are remarkable spiritual principles that are applicable to us moderns.  Jonah was a spiritually mature believer. He was a prophet, one who spoke on behalf of God, living at the time of great prosperity in Israel. Jonah lived about 250 years after King David, and was a significant political and spiritual leader in Israel.

Jonah is not a myth, but a real historical figure: “He [God] restored the border of Israel… according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet” (2 Ki. 14:25).  Israel’s prosperity was partly based on Jonah’s ministry.  He was a man of stature. Ironically his name means “dove” (Matt 10:16).

The book of Jonah begins matter-of-factly: “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying…” (Jonah. 1:1).  The Lord revealing His will to Jonah was not a particularly unique thing – it was natural.  Just as it should with us today. We need not be surprised that the Lord is with us, knowing us, and talking to us – it’s natural: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20).  Get used to it, it’s great!

The Lord taps Jonah on the shoulder, explaining he’s got a job for him: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” (Jon. 1:2).  Hmmmm. This would be like the Lord asking you to go to Tehran, Iran, stand publicly on a street corner, and preach the gospel.  Does Jonah, the mature spiritual professional saddle up and go? Nineveh is a place of evil, not just garden-variety disobedience.  It’s a nasty place and dangerous place, a place where no believer wants to visit. It is also Israel’s enemy, and a threat to them – they hate Israel. Sounds like today’s news.

“Whaddya thinkin’ Lord? Can’t you just send their own guys to preach the Word?”

Uncomfortable!!!!  Let’s see if Jonah is going to obey the Lord’s command.

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD” (1:3).  Whaddya doing, Jonah!?

Does anyone think that this is a good strategy?  Great idea, just go off to another far-off city and hide out from the Lord. Guess what, God is not fooled by this idea, nor is He impotent when a believer is rebellious. He made the entire Universe, He knows where Tarshish is. He does not lose track of us, flummoxed by our sophisticated machinations. Do you think you can outwit the Lord? Don’t even try.

“JUST LEAVE ME ALONE LORD!” That is not a good strategy for a godly man, and the Lord will not bend to Jonah’s ideas…Jonah’s going to do the bending.  Jonah’s discomfort will not stop the Lord with this urgent need. “Nineveh… their evil has come up before me.” (1:2).  Is the Lord after justice or pity?

“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…” (4:11).  In the city are innocent children who are too young to identify their right and left hand.  120,000 children, not including others in the population. The Lord desires they know he wants to bless them!

So, he’s going to send an enemy to them, Jonah, telling them of the majesty and goodness of the Lord God.  But Jonah is balking, though there’s all kinds of innocent people needing to hear the good news of a loving Creator God.  Well who’s going to win in the stand-off between Jonah and God? If I was a betting man, I’d bet on the Lord. Let’s see.

“But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up” (1:4).  The Lord can be downright pointed and edgy. No more mister nice-guy.  Listen, the Lord made the entire Universe, he could vaporize Jonah in a millisecond.  But he’s making a point. I’m in charge, I’m the boss, I will accomplish what I deem important! “For I the LORD do not change…” (Mal. 3:6). Really!

The LORD hurled a great wind… In baseball parlance a pitcher used to be called a ‘hurler.’ Sounds like the Lord is throwing a fastball.  The Milky Way is our galaxy of 100 billion stars, and is travelling through the Universe at 3.3 million mph! You would not want the job of catching if the Lord is pitching!  Looks like the Lord has tracked Jonah down.

Now there is real danger, the storm is causing the ship to break-up. The Lord allows many to be in crisis all because one man was not obedient!  Jonah’s choices now start impacting people in the natural realm! Is God being unkind, or persistent?  There’s 120,000 innocent children that need what Jonah’s got (Jon. 4:11). The Lord has blessed Jonah to be his spokesman, a great honor and privilege, and he’s shirking his responsibility.  The problem is growing for Jonah and others are getting sucked into the vortex. Never think that spiritual apathy will not impact the natural realm. The spiritual and natural realms are inextricably linked.  Consequences for spiritual apathy leak into other people’s lives. Do not learn this the hard way!

“Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god” (Jon. 1:5).  The professional sailors are now downright awed, frightened by the storm.  The storm was so unusual and powerful that the hardiest and toughest guys get religion.  The threat was so real: “And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them” (1:5).  The second ‘hurling.’  God hurled, then they hurled their livelihood!  The natural realm now is subjugated. The ship owner’s wealth is now subjected to God’s purposes, because Jonah is a squish.

Where is Jonah in all this?  “But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep” (1:5). He is oblivious to the circumstances, unconcerned about Nineveh, and about his fellow travelers. He’s making sure his needs are met.  He’s snoring away, content and oblivious to impending trouble. That’s about to change.

The values displayed here tell us much about the Lord and his will.  You do not get to dismiss his plans, hoping God will forget. He’ll get your attention – for sure.  If you’re his follower, he does have a mission for you, especially to the spiritually lost. Get ready.


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