Its amazing to see so many of you on board with the #JonahChallenge! Even those that haven’t done the previous Bible Challenges we welcome you! For those that still don’t know what it is, don’t worry!
The Jonah Challenge is a FOUR day challenge, where we read the 4 chapters in the book of Jonah in the Bible! It is not just about reading, I would love for us to share our understanding of what we have read with each other, so as you read, feel free to hashtag #JonahChallenge if you have twitter. In addition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your notes for each chapter, or a summary and I will put it up on this blog page! The book of Jonah really focuses on our attitude to God, disobedience, God’s mercy and our carnal fallacy. Especially in the area of OBEDIENCE which I believe is so key in really getting the most out of our Christian walk and abiding in God’s will for us! Some points I haven’t touched on in my summary are covered in everyone else’s contributions, OR I have purposely left out to encourage you guys to touch on! So Lets Go!
Bible Challenge MOTTO: The Bible is JUICY. The Bible is LIFE. The Bible is for YOU!
Jonah Was Angry At The Lords Mercy
He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (Jonah 4:2 NIV)
Jonah was basically saying to God – look, I knew you were going to have mercy anyway, that’s why I didn’t want to go! You’re too compassionate. Jonah saw his mission as pointless & futile, but God didn’t!
I see and understand Jonah’s perspective, especially from the standpoint of getting annoyed when people abuse the ‘grace’ and ‘mercy’ of God. But it’s not for us to get annoyed…that is for God to be honest. More importantly, our annoyance should not infringe on our obedience to God’s instruction.
Yes people abuse God’s grace…but imma still tell ’em about it! Because someone will be saved!
Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “ God ! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! “So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” (Jonah 4:1-3 MSG)
Jonah Was so dramatic…was it really that deep?
Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ But the Lord replied, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ (Jonah 4:3, 4 NIV)
Looooool, this verse made me chuckle. How can Jonah request to die!!! I imagine God saying to jonah in today’s slang ‘is it really that deep?’
God’s grace transcends our human understanding…
I love the way the message bible puts it! Please read verse 4-11 here:
God said, “What do you have to be angry about?” But Jonah just left. He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter of leafy branches and sat there in the shade to see what would happen to the city. God arranged for a broad-leafed tree to spring up. It grew over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry sulk. Jonah was pleased and enjoyed the shade. Life was looking up. But then God sent a worm. By dawn of the next day, the worm had bored into the shade tree and it withered away. The sun came up and God sent a hot, blistering wind from the east. The sun beat down on Jonah’s head and he started to faint. He prayed to die: “I’m better off dead!” Then God said to Jonah, “What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?” Jonah said, “Plenty of right. It’s made me angry enough to die!” God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?” (Jonah 4:4-11 MSG)
God is saying to Jonah and to us; don’t get angry at what you didn’t work for! Plain and simple. Jonah didn’t look at after plant, didn’t see it through its early days, and consequently allowed it to die. God used the plant to describe the city of Nineveh. He is saying that he wants to see that plant grow, live and not die.
This Chapter is a real wake up call to ‘Christians’ who consider other people unworthy of God’s grace. Please look back and remember the ‘amazing grace’ that saved YOU. Rejoice when people turn to God, because it means you have gained another sibling in the Lord.
Be careful not to look down from a position of pride. Be careful not to be ‘selfish’ with your ‘saved’ status. WE desire for ALL to be saved! Salvation is not just for you! Salvation doesn’t have a quota!
God didn’t even have to explain himself to Jonah, but he did! He wants us all to understand his grace. God is sovereign in any decision He makes, He can ‘relent’ if it pleases Him to do! >> ‘Unquestionable, you are The Lord’ << this song is so true in this situation. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9)!
Funny point: God is also an animal rights activist as we see in verse 11 lool, he was concerned that the city also had loads cattle!
The beginnings of Jonah chapter 4 show a snapshot of the unfortunate nature of many of the children of God today. The timeless hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ speaks about how the grace of God ‘saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see’ – an admittance that many of us, including Jonah, can identify with. We were once unsaved, living in sin, in need of saving, in need of a Word to set us straight. We messed up. And yet God gave us a chance at redemption, and we took it. We didn’t deserve a second chance, but God being so good, so merciful, so gracious, He gave it to us anyway…
So when we see other people receiving their shot at redemption, we should be happy right? Because we were once like them, and we know how it feels to be saved, right? But the reality a lot of the time is that once we are saved and have been forgiven, like Jonah, we look down from our new pedestals and feel we have a right to begrudge others of their own repentance and second chances. We feel we can dictate who deserves it and who doesn’t. The former defendants now want to become judges…
Jonah’s memory proves to be a short one in chapter 4 – he’s already forgotten that he had purposely run contrary to God’s word, he’d fallen short of God’s desire, and yet God still proved merciful to him. He’d been spared death by the stormy seas and the whale which consequently swallowed him whole, and yet somehow he couldn’t comprehend why the Ninevites, after repenting as he himself had done mere days before, should also be spared!
The sorry double-standards of Christians today. ‘I’m having pre-marital sex, and had a secret abortion…God still loves me….but let me join in on the gossip of that girl in the choir who’s fallen pregnant, she should be kicked out, disgrace, no one should pay her any mind.’ Jonah was exhibiting such double-standards. Grace is available for all! It’s not selective! Even before the New Testament dispensation, God was still ready to make His grace available to Gentiles such as the Ninevites – but Jonah couldn’t understand this. As far as he was concerned, everyone else could go to hell (literally)…
We’ve all lost our way at one point or the other. By God’s grace, God has pulled us back on track. So when He uses us, or other people, to save others from sin and pull them into glory, be happy! Welcome them into the family! Don’t begrudge others their second chance by spitting bile from atop your new pedestal with your short selective memory now you yourself have been washed clean. -Jermaine, @Dr_Jabz27
Hey Kanayo, I didn’t know where the Jonah challenge was going, at first, but I’m glad I was a part of it… It’s open my eyes to the actual story! I never knew the sailors were reluctant to throw him off board! Little things like that make all the difference and but things in perspective! Thanks! Here’s my bit on the challenge:
I was finding hard to understand why Jonah tried to run from God presence even though he knew God made the everything and is everywhere (Jonah 1:9) and why he didn’t just throw himself off the boat instead of waiting on the sailors to do so [reluctantly]. He was stalling! Pride was the root of his disobedience and Chapter 4 highlights this to us! He didn’t want to deliver the message because he knew God would have mercy on Nineveh (Jonah 4:1-2)! That’s why he tried to run because he knew he’d be vex if his (God-sent) prophesy didn’t come to pass! He even ask God to kill him or them but left to go to the east of City to see what would happen to Nineveh! LOL!! Cheek guy! The story of Jonah shows ultimately God’s sovereignty and how are human pride is not in line with God’s heart! Sometimes God’s plan makes us look like fools and we have to be okay with that! After all, we do “foolish” things for the ones we love. – @UnOfficialLola
Why so Angry jonah?
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who at first, couldn’t fully understand why Jonah was so angry. It baffled me. The Ninevites repented and found mercy with God yet his reaction was not exactly what we would expect. V.1 says he Yelled at god (msg version) but why? Could he not at least, As a man of God have some self control over his own spirit as not to disrespect God?
The reason I found was that in chapter 3 when he eventually went to nineveh, Jonah must have remixed God message to the ninevites a little bit. In chapter 3:4 he said to the people that Nineveh will be smashed. He never mentioned to them the hope of salvation and mercy that was available to them only if they would repent. I’m sure we are all familiar with preachers who just seem to scare people with the gospel. You are a sinner you will die! This isn’t what God wants. Surely the wages of sin is death but also there are tonnes of blessings that were promised likewise for turning away from those sins. This is probably why Jonah was so angry with God because God did the exact opposite of what Jonah had told he Ninevites to expect. He was hating on them for the mercy they received from God.
So Jonah was jealous basically. His message to the Ninevites had lost credibility.
We should be careful as believers to deliver the message as we have been sent to. Don’t take out or add to it. Say it as it is. There is hell but there is also heaven. But even if we choose to ignore this, God will take over. As he did in Chapter 4. He is not a God of double standards. He loves sinners and he is a merciful God. Glory! – @tayo_oo
What I got from the story is that God truly does arrange every step we take, and for every act of disobedience there we will be disciplined for it. After all the bible makes us to understand that God correct those He loves! Also to me it seemed that Jonah was more focused on what God had told him in secret rather than the actual will of God (which in this case is for the people of the Nineveh to turn back to their Saviour).
Reading the book all over raised a question within me… Who is to say that God did NOT actually order Jonah’s step and caused him to be on that ship with the men who worship false gods? Daniel 2:21 says: “He determines the course of world events”. So how do we know that God did not allow him to purposely be on that boat so that His glory may be shown and His name can then be glorified? Verse 3 makes us to understand that the men in the boat offered sacrifices and vows to
God. Going back to (Exodus 6-9) when God purposely hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He can show forth his power. Yes Jonah’s disobedience got others into trouble, it however did give them an opportunity to know the one and only true God.
The last chapter of this book makes me laugh because it shows how big and funny God’s sense of humour is.. A lot of time when God does something funny I always tell my friends, why are you guys been too serious, God’s sense of humour is just sooo amazing. I can just imagine Him smiling down and probably laughing while Jonah was sulking. He was angry even though he had no right to be, God still arranged for a leafy plant to shade him from the sun. No seriously though, how amazing is God???? Though we at times get mad at time for no reason, YET He still cares for us and protects is!!! What a loving Father.
Lastly what humbles me is that fact that a lot of times, us Christians are quick to look down on people just and judge them, and we think that they are unworthy of God’s mercy/forgiveness. Like Jonah we think how can God will merciful to this person, or how can God use this person. But we tend to forget that, that is what GRACE is about… Underserving, none of us deserves it, yet He gives it to us freely! And also isn’t it the same God that said He’ll have mercy on whom He chooses to? (Romans 9). Our mind is so limited and for that reason we tend to most times focus on the NOW rather than LATER. God sees the bigger picture of our lives, He alone knows the end from the beginning, and only He knows what He wanted the nation to repent. And I think it’s a lesson for us as Christians not to be quick to judge people/ write them off. And God is really so patient and merciful to us that even when we are sulking or we think we have the “right” to be upset, He still males us to see our faults in the most loving way ever. Now that’s my King!!! Talking about king… Even the king in that nation recognised that there is a KING of kings, the one who is above him and whose authority can never be questioned! –@Godzproperty_89
God used Jonah’s anger towards him as an example of why he save the people of ten great city in the first place because they didn’t know wrong from right. Jonah didn’t have a level of understanding on Gods mercy and grace for his people.
It’s like the passage (Matthew 6:28-30 NKJV)
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
God cares about us as his people he doesn’t want us to live a destructive life but to turn away from that a live a life for Him. God used that to show him that as his children we matter to Him and he wants the best for us. Imagine if he killed them that would have been another wahala.
He knows everything before it happens in our lives.
What to learn from Jonah is God is a merciful and gracious God and we should leave it too late to turn our lives around if it’s heading on the wrong path. He’s given us so much grace so we shouldn’t take it for granted.P.S. Thanks for this challenge sis. I didn’t wanna get involved because I find it difficult understanding the word but I’m glad I did and I understood it on a different level than I’m used to. Starting to apply it a lot to my life after the last few days. I have learnt so much about God’s character and myself and where we as Christians go wrong sometimes. So thank you once again. God bless you sis. Can’t wait for the next challenge – @beccatemitope
This chapter also speaks to me about selfishness/selflessness. It revealed the human mindset of caring more about ourselves than others. Jonah was angry and felt like dying when it was a situation that concerned him (verse 9), but he never expressed such concern when the people of Nineveh were ‘dying’ i.e. when they were lost and needed salvation
On the other hand, God has a reason to be angry at the things that actually matter more; in this case, 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness. Yet He is still slow to get anger.
Therefore, we need to align ourselves with God – to renew our mind with the Word (daily, and obeying everything in it) so that we become more like Him in our attitude and care about the things He cares about. Only then will we begin to see and understand things from His perspective… Such as, being slow to anger, the importance of salvation for the lost etc.
Testimony: This Bible Challenge has been great. Personally and naturally, I am a very straight-forward and rigid thinker, so when it comes to thinking outside the box or doing things in a different way to ‘my’ way, it can be a bit of a mental challenge. For example, I normally read the Bible from front to back (Gen > Mal, and Matt > Rev, simultaneously)… which is not bad, but it can be very rigid; there might be a situation going on in my life which calls for me to read the book of Jonah for example (lol), but if I was in my routine, I’d normally stick to it and not follow the Holy Spirit’s leading… missing out on a word that would have been ‘seasonal’ for me.
This is why I did not take part in the last Bible Challenge – I wanted to in my heart as I knew it would be beneficial, but couldn’t break out of my mindset at the time. I was comfortable in my comfort zone. But God (partially through you lot) has helped me to think more freely, openly and outside the box (in all aspects of life), which has increased my capacity for learning and also made it more fun. There are things that you guys ‘see’ when reading the Word which I don’t, and maybe vice versa. That is why I found this Bible Challenge so refreshing. 4 chapters, but tons of revys (<< my slang for revelations… don’t mind me)
In conclusion, this is a magnificent idea. Social media is powerful as it is, but it’s even more powerful when it is used to glorify God. I will look forward to participating in the next challenge, whenever it is, at the Spirit’s leading. And who knows? Maybe God will use one of us to bring up a new idea for fellowship or something related to it. God Bless – Stephen, @sdotdanso
God really does love and care about people. The purpose of sending Jonah to preach a message warning of judgement was to bring Nineveh to a place of repentance.
Jonah would have preferred for a swift judgement upon Nineveh. He knows God is a merciful and compassionate God, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. Jonah is forgetting that ‘mercy prevails over judgement’. He’s forgetting that if God had taken that approach, he probably wouldn’t be there to be questioning God as such.
When God assigns a task to us, the outcome may not be what we think it will be. We must remember that “His ways are not our ways”. We are only vessels, our part is to obey and let God do His thing!
God’s heart of compassion moves Him to give a great commission to His people. When we are connected to the heart of God, we will be moved to pray for and proclaim the saving message of Christ to the lost.
Just some questions I’ve been pondering on:
- Am I connected to the heart of God and moved with compassion for people?
- Am i living more like Jonah who was disconnected from the mission of God or like Jesus who pleased the father? Ebun, @JollyEbz
Personally I think to myself Jonah must have been high or something LOL because for God to appoint you with such a task would be such a privilege to me but then again that makes me a hypocrite really because from experience God can appoint you with the smallest of tasks and we still hide. FOOLISH I KNOW! Sometimes we wait for the big tasks from God which we view as significant making us oblivious to the smaller things God gives us to do in preparation for the greater and bigger things to come. For God does not give more than we can bare; 1 Corinthians 10:12, 13
So be careful. If you are thinking, Oh, I would never behave like that”-
Let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.
But remember this–the wrong desires that come into your life are not anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.
We should remember that our God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. The one thing we can deprive him off is our heart; although he is powerful he cannot take you because he gave us that free will. So when you give yourself freely you can imagine the delight in his heart. 99% isn’t enough because we’re still depriving him of that 1%. From this challenge I have learnt that we ought to humble ourselves before the Lord and give him our hearts freely so that we can fulfil his will for us. -Chido Kambarami