I can’t say that I’m always eager to take Buddy for a walk when I return home from work. He’s always so excited to see me, however, that I “suck it up” for his sake and we trudge out into the rain and/or cold weather to please him.
Probably everyone knows the spectacular aspect of Jonah’s story, that he was swallowed by a whale. What the average person doesn’t know is why. God told Jonah to travel to Nineveh, which was in ancient Assyria, and preach that they repent of their sins or face God’s judgment. Jonah, however, hated the Ninevites because they were cruel and wicked people: He wanted God to judge and destroy them.
However, it seems that Jonah didn’t know God too well. He takes a ship to Tarshish in the opposite direction of Nineveh, to escape “from the presence of God” (Jonah 1:3). Seems he didn’t know God was omnipresent, i.e. everywhere. God tosses the ship around in a violent storm because of Jonah’s disobedience, so the crewmen reluctantly throw Jonah overboard. Here’s the big irony: The pagans did everything they could to save Jonah’s life as they didn’t want to toss him overboard to his death. When the sea suddenly calmed when Jonah hit the water, the seamen repented and acknowledged God as their savior from the storm. These pagans had more compassion on Jonah, even though he caused them great distress, than Jonah, one of God’s representatives, had on the Ninevites.
A whale swallows Jonah, saving him from drowning. After he finally repents of his disobedience after three days and nights in its belly (this was one stubborn dude), the whale vomits him up onto dry land. God then commands Jonah once again to go preach to the Ninevites to repent of their sin, “120,000 persons (Jonah 4:11).” Jonah obeys, but with a sullen attitude. He walks an entire day through Nineveh, proclaiming this greatest of all sermons:
“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”–Jonah 3:3
That’s it. Charles Spurgeon or Martin Luther probably produced greater sermons during their sneezes.
Yet the King orders everyone to fast and put on sackcloth as a sign of repentance–even the animals were clothed with sackcloth:
“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.’
And when God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”–Jonah 3:6-10
God loved the Ninevites, despite their wickedness, and didn’t want to destroy them. He wanted to give them a chance to repent.
Jonah was very angry that the city repented, but that’s another point for later. What I want to emphasize now is that Jesus encourages us to pray and promises to answer our prayers. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)” But we often think that we aren’t eloquent or fervent enough to be heard, or that we aren’t important enough to warrant God’s notice or don’t know how to spin out long-winded prayers that convince God to respond. We might read the Psalms of King David and think, “I fall far short. I sound really lame compared to him.”
Our prayers may be puny or weak–or maybe just two heartfelt words, “Help, Jesus!” What we just need to do is only this: pray to the One True and Living God.
“…whatever you ask of the FATHER in MY NAME HE may give to you (John10:16b)”. Because “All authority has been given to ME (Jesus) in heaven and on earth (Mark 28:18)”. (CAPS mine for emphasis.)
The Ninevites repented because God’s power was already at work in their hearts; it was His desire to see them repent or He wouldn’t have bothered to send Jonah. He could’ve just zapped them all with fire and brimstone, like Sodom and Gomorrah, and gotten it over with.
I truly believe that Jesus was not able to do “many miracles there (Nazareth) because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58)” as the people in His hometown of Nazareth didn’t believe that He was the Lord God in the flesh, Immanuel, having lived with him since his childhood, so they didn’t ask. They didn’t realize that He was the Incarnation that the prophet Isaiah prophesied about, even though Jesus had declared Himself to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the coming Messiah in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:17-21) at the beginning of His ministry.
About 700 years before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, Isaiah prophesied that God would become flesh and dwell amongst us (Matthew 1:23):
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace…”–Isaiah 9:6
So the point I’m trying to make is: Pray and trust God to work. The power is not in how eloquent or long or interesting your prayers are; the power flows from The Lord Of Hosts (Lord of Angel Armies) Who answers your prayers. And proclaim Christ as Lord, trusting not in your power and effort but in God’s power that works in the hearts of people.
“God rules over the nations.”–Psalm 47:8
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; The world, and those who dwell in it.”–Psalm 24:1
“The Lord is King forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear…” Psalm 10:16-17
Pray your feeble prayers and trust an all powerful, loving God to answer.
It’s my prayer that this blog blesses you. If I was relying upon my eloquence and not the hope that God is using my words, I’d despair because I often feel like I’m falling short. God wants us to honor Him, not honor ourselves. Not because He’s arrogant but because Dawn cannot save your soul; only He can redeem you. If your prayers aren’t being answered, are you sure that you’re praying to the true and living God as depicted in the Bible? Many people deny the Deity of Christ, but He clearly instructs us to pray to the Father in His name. Would you please consider who your faith is in: yourself or Jesus, the loving Savior? The One Who died for your sins so that you don’t have to pay for them yourself on Judgment Day. Your efforts, your works–or His work?
God bless you. Dawn and Buddy