What Jonah Missed in the Belly University

This Sunday caps off our 4-week series about Jonah, from the Book of Jonah of course, held at Victory San Diego. Podcasts will be available on the same site. The story of Jonah has been popularized by the event when he was swallowed by a great fish and he stays there for 3 days until the Lord causes him to be vomited out. While this is a picture of God’s salvation, it is interesting to know why he gets swallowed in the first place.

God sends Jonah to Nineveh, a great and evil city, to call out against it. Picture their hearts and practices that are dishonoring to the Lord. Jonah disobeys. Instead, he boards a ship and flees away from the presence of the Lord. God causes a great wind that almost broke the ship, scares the mariners and throws Jonah into the sea. Jonah gets swallowed by a great fish and remains in the belly 3 days and 3 nights. He prays inside the belly and reconciles with God. Fish vomits him and he goes to Nineveh. Jonah speaks of a warning against their evil deeds and the people of Nineveh repent even the king. God then relents of the disaster, forgives them. Jonah gets upset and angry as God displays mercy.

Last Sunday, I was picking a VeggieTales for Judah and I chose the story of Jonah. I like to quote from the talking caterpillar (in VeggieTales), “The world needs more people who are compassionate and nice, not big and important.” The cucumber, asparagus, tomato and the like, then sing and dance with a song that says, “Jonah was a prophet, oh-oh, but he never really got it, sad but true.”

One great compassion-killer is entitlement. The moment we start feeling big and important, we should humble ourselves before the Lord for He gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud. When we feel like we deserve this and that, we focus much on ourselves than on what He has done. We feel big and important in the things we have done or accomplished, especially in ministry. So I continue to remind myself, I am not entitled to anything. I am a forgiven being, poured out with so much of God’s grace that I cannot contain it.

The hard question is, when did we last share about our compassionate God who longs to have fellowship with His people? I pray that we will be more like Jesus, Who is a friend of sinners, ate with tax collectors and spoke with outcasts. May it be a joy to see other people turn to God and repent from their own ways.

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