Jonah's Big Picture: What He Lost In Rebellion - What He Gained In Repentance
In Jonah's big picture scenario it is wise for us to consider and compare all that he lost in rebellion. Once we have considered the losses and compared the gains, there is logically only one solution for those of us who want to multiply the 521 (maximizing what we have been given by God). First do not rebel against God - but continue to move obediently forward in the full understanding His calling and the blessing of His grace. Secondly, must also maintain and nurture a right heart and fulfill genuine intentions towards God. To do this we do not r on our expectations of Him and His grace. We are called by God to lead in love, and to serve all people as we lead those who will follow. To rebel against that calling and opportunity is never going to produce the outcome we desire for our life and the lives of those we love.
Consider that Jonah lost the voice of God (1:4). We don't read that "the word of the Lord came to Jonah," but that a great storm broke loose over the waters. God was no longer speaking to Jonah through His word; He was speaking to him through His works: the sea, the wind, the rain, the thunder, and even the great fish. Everything in nature was obeying God but Jonah! God even spoke to him through the mercy and superstition of crew (verses 6-10) who didn't know Jehovah. It's a sad thing when a servant and believer of God gets called out by unbelieving pagans.
Compare how we often times believe we are not hearing God's voice. It is probably a good point to ask ourselves if there is even the slightest hint of rebellion in our hearts our attitude towards God in how we are living, loving and leading.
Consider that Jonah lost his spiritual energy (1:5). He went to sleep during a fierce storm and was totally unconcerned about the safety of others. The sailors were throwing the ship's wares and cargo overboard, and Jonah was about to lose everything, but he still slept on. "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man" (Proverbs 24:33, NIV).
Compare how we often times feel drained of faith and spiritual strength, wondering where is the voice of God and why isn't He talking when we need Him. It is probably a good point to ask ourselves if maybe he was speaking to us while we were too busy to listen, or perhaps we simply did not want to hear what He was saying.
Consider that Jonah lost his power in prayer (1:5-6). Even the unbelieving, paganistic crew of The Perversus were calling on whatever gods they could think of for help while the only man on board who knew how to pray to the one true God, slept. But of course, that would mean that Jonah would have to confess and repent of his sins, while also deciding to obey what God had asked him to do. But because he was not yet ready to do that - his prayers for saving himself and the crew were useless. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). If Jonah did pray, his prayer wasn't answered.
Compare how we often times pray for help, favor, and blessing while we are not thinking, speaking, or living like we know that we should. In that condition God is not obligated or interested in our prayer. Loss of power and righteous expectation in prayer is one of the first indications that our hearts and minds have gotten too far from God and the direction He wants us going. God does not bless, favor, or click "Like" to our personal rebellion post. We need to repent - we need to get right with Him.
Consider that Jonah lost his testimony (1:7-10). He certainly wasn't living up to his name, for Jonah means "dove," and the dove is a symbol of peace. Jonah's father's name was Ammitai, which means "faithful, truthful," something that Jonah was not. We've already seen that he wasn't living up to his high calling as a Jew, for he had brought everybody trouble instead of blessing, nor was he living up to his calling as a prophet, for he had no message for them from God. When the lot pointed to Jonah as the culprit, he could no longer avoid making a decision.
From an experience of rebellion and discipline. Jonah turns to an experience of repentance and dedication, and God graciously gives him a new beginning. There is no doubt that Jonah expected to die in the storm at sea, but in spite of his terror, when he woke up inside the fish, he realized that God had for the moment, graciously spared him. As with the Prodigal Son, whom Jonah in his rebellion greatly resembles (Luke 15:11-24), it was the goodness of God that brought him to repentance (Romans 2:4). You can see the progression of both Jonah's emotional and spiritual experience in his prayer. He prayed for God's help (Jonah 2:1-2). "Then Jonah prayed" (2:1) suggests that it was at the end of the three days and three nights when Jonah turned to the Lord for help, but we probably shouldn't press the word "then" too far. The Hebrew text simply reads, "And Jonah prayed." Surely Jonah prayed as he went down into the depths of the sea, certain that he would drown. That would be the normal thing for any person to do, and that's the picture we get from verses 5 and 7. His prayer was born out of affliction, not affection. He cried out to God because he was in danger, not because he delighted in the Lord. It is better that he should pray compelled by any motive than not to pray at all. It's doubtful whether any believer always prays with pure and righteous motives, for our desires and God's directions sometimes conflict.
However, in spite of the fact that he prayed, Jonah still wasn't happy with the will of God. In chapter 1, he was afraid of the will of God and rebelled against it, but now he wants God's will simply because it's the only way out of his danger, and the belly of the fish. The comparisons to us today are familiar... Jonah saw the will of God as something to turn to in an emergency, not something to live by every day of one's life.