..A Magazine for all Christians · Nº 21 · May - June 2003
The figure of Jonah is not only that of a reluctant prophet in Israels history. It is also a parable that contains many wonderful lessons for todays Christians.
The duty of a prophet
In these days, the Lord has been placing
a burden in my heart to make a call to the church. There are three reasons
as to why I believe firmly that I should speak this word. First, because
I believe that Gods heart beats for this word. Second, because,
although before we were not a people, today we are the people of God.
And third, because God has sent us to do work.
Brothers and sisters, we have Gods testimony, we have His promises, we have His grace, and we have Christ Himself. But there is a world that is being lost, a world that is heading toward the cliff. The church is rising, it is seeing more and more of Christ, a new man is being lifted up! It is the moment for that new man to go and look for the lost. Brothers and sisters, this call is urgent.
prophet that runs
Lord Jesus made mention of Jonah; he was a clear sign for Israel. Jonah
is the official representative of what was the blind and legalistic Israel.
It is the figure of a people who had the testimony in their hand, but
kept everything for themselves.
is surprising. When studying this book, we will realize how similar he
is to us. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai,
saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against
it: for their wickedness has come up before Me.
first detail that we find is that it is the Word of God. It is not that
Jonah had a feeling. It is not the church that has a feeling about leaving
the world. It is Gods heart that is moving the church.
rose, but he doesnt get up to do Gods will, but rather to
escape from His presence. Nineveh was a big city. The people from Nineveh
were Israels worst enemies. It was like today sending a North American
to evangelize Al-Qaeda: Go to the Muslims there, to Al-Qaeda, and
try to locate Bin Laden, and take him Jesus Christs message.
his blindness, Jonah will have said: Nineveh! And if they convert?
No, no, no! I cannot go to Nineveh. And he also met with a surprise:
a ship leaving for Tarshish! A ship like this could not be found on just
any day of the week. They took a long time, six or eight months, to prepare
a load. But that day, the ship was there! And not only the ship, but also
the money to pay the ship.
How terrible it is that we have the resources and are investing them in things that are not the will of God! How terrible it is that we have the possibilities and every time God calls us, we run away! Jonah could have felt in his heart: perhaps God changed His mind. He put a ship in front of me, and the money. He has Amos to send to Nineveh.
verse 4 we notice something: But... How blessed are
Gods buts. When I am changing His will, when
I am straying, he says: But. God had something prepared
for Jonah. When he wants something with you, you wont win. Thank
you, Lord! Win me, Lord! My flesh wants to escape... Win me; give a but
to my life!
the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest
on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners
were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that
was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone
down into the lowest parts of the ship, had laid down, and was fast asleep.
(1:4-5). The man of testimony was sleeping, while the world comes to an
end, while everything is bad!
say: How good it is that society is more corrupt, because the Lord
is coming! Oh, brother, be careful! There are men and women who
suffer, there are entire families that lie in ruins! Who will go? Or will
we sleep, like Jonah, while others perish? Who will take this word of
the mystery of His will to them? Were we perhaps not once like them? Oh,
blessed Lord may that scent of refuse never depart from me, may I never
forget where you brought me from, not so that I might remain bitter, but
that I might say: Only by your grace, only by your mercy am I standing!
We who at one time were not people, are now people of God!
who have been at sea know how difficult it is for a sailor to become afraid.
But when God intends to do something, He lifts the sea, He lifts the wind;
He does what He has to do. He wont lose; He wont leave things
as they are!
the sailors began to pray. There were men of all nations crying out to
their gods, but the only one who had the true God was sleeping. Doesnt
that resemble me? I have that problem: Oh, how wonderful were such
and such a brothers words. What did you think about what this brother
said? But I still keep it to myself, while everybody is saying:
Somebody speak to us! When people on TV look to witches, they
dont do it to be fashionable, but because they have not known the
light of the gospel! Oh, help us, Lord! When we see so much banality,
it is because the devil has blinded the eyes of understanding, so that
the light doesnt shine forth. The world doesnt play; the world
kills, it destroys, it consumes. But Jesus Christ is life, and eternal
they said to him: Please tell us! For whos cause is this upon us? What
is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country,
and of what people are you? And he said to them: I am Hebrew, and I fear
the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land
(v. 8-9). A religious man is more dangerous than an atheist: a man who
sings and speaks inside a temple, but lives differently in his own house.
I am Hebrew! Do you know what the word Hebrew means? Wandering!
Do you know what Jonah means? Dove messenger! What irony, a dove that
escapes, that hides, that sleeps while it has to give the message! And,
when they ask him, he brings out his glittering titles: Wait a moment,
I am Hebrew! Do you have the testimony and do you keep it? Do you
have the testimony and are you quiet? Do you have the testimony and do
you fall asleep?
said to him: What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?
for the sea was growing more tempestuous (v. 11). How
I resemble Jonah! When I am outside Gods will, the anguish comes,
the sea begins to get rough. And I cry out: Save me, Lord! But, He tells
me: I wont save you, I want to take you toward my will. I
lifted the sea, and I lifted the wind, so that you return to my will.
Blessed is the Lord!
men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued
to grow more tempestuous (v. 13).
many times we have wanted to bring some brother to the shore, removing
him from Gods hand. But the sea becomes fiercer. Do you know what
you should do? Leave him! Leave him; because if he belongs to God, if
he has the testimony of God, he wont die. He will lose everything,
but Christ will remain standing! So, if you are going through some situation,
think for a moment: Lord, why did the sea rise? Is it my doing? Are you
taking me a little further out? Am I being an obstacle for your will?
a man escapes from the will of God everything around him goes wrong. Not
only he himself has problems: his house, his children, his work, everything.
they cried out to the Lord and said: We pray, O Lord, please do
not let us perish for this mans life, and do not charge us with
innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You
(v. 14). It is like Jesus prayer. Brothers and sisters, through
Jesus innocent blood, we had life; through Jesus death, we,
who worshipped other gods, had eternal life. Yes, the Father tossed One
to the sea, to the tomb, so that you and I might have life! Hallelujah!
Blessed death that brought me life! Blessed anguish that brought me joy!
No sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah,
says the Lord.
So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly . They all converted! The ship that was idolatrous came to find God. ...and offered sacrifices to the Lord, and took vows.
the Lord... Another but. It has not finished. Are you
in the water? God will take hold of you and will take you still further
out. God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah for three days. Jonahs
arrogance and stubbornness is incredible; that only on the third day did
he pray to the Lord. He didnt pray the first day, nor the second.
The algae drowned him. Only on the third day, when he couldnt take
any more did he cry out to God.
man can evangelize if he doesnt first experience death. No man can
take a testimony to the world if he hasnt first experienced the
cross, the anguish, the affliction, and Gods treatment. For that
reason we read in chapter 2 the prayer that Jonah makes. The
waters surrounded me even to my soul... I went down to the moorings of
the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever...
But, what does it say? Yet you have brought my life up from the
pit. Do you want to take Christs testimony? There must
be a cross in-between, there has to be Gods treatment in-between.
at what verse 9 says: But I will sacrifice to you with the voice
of thanksgiving: I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
So the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
obeyed God: the sea, the sailors, the wind, the fish, the worm. The only
one that didnt obey Him was Jonah! What irony! And he was the only
one that had a testimony to give!
he arrived at Nineveh, he began to preach. I imagine Jonah preaching unwillingly:
he didnt want people to get saved. How did Nineveh repent so quickly,
when Israel, having seen the same Lord, never want to hear Him? What signs
there are in the book of Jonah! It says that the king issued a decree,
so that all the men of Nineveh, all the women, and all the children humbled
themselves before the God of heaven, so that He might relent His anger.
world is crying out. The world is crying out! All those who are around
us: your family, your parents, your brother, all cry out. They dont
understand it, but they cry out, without knowing it. And the only ones
who have the testimony to give are you and I.
The most terrible thing happened: Nineveh repented, and the Lord relented His anger, but Jonah got angry with God! Why did you send me, if you were going to save them? Why such a fuss, if you were prepared in your heart to save them? Have you not thought in this way? Why give such a test, if at the end they will come all the same?
testimony to give
God sends you, Church; each one of us! Not a renowned evangelist walking
out to the arena filled with lights, with a colorful tie and a special
suit. No, no, no! You, brother, who dont know how to read or write,
nor preach; you have something more important than education, you have
Christ Himself to give! Yes, it may well be that others will come as well,
but God sends you!
is your Nineveh? Your family, your son. Young men and women, is it your
university friends? Who is your Nineveh? Wherever the Lord sends you with
the testimony. Listen, church! This is Gods moment, who raised up
a man, a body here among us! It is a man who is raised up! You have the
testimony. It is not necessary to go to a seminar to study evangelism...
years ago, a brother came to Colina (a city in Chile) to teach evangelism
to us. He is a very well-known man. Today he is more than eighty years
Do you want to study evangelism?
we all take out a notebook and pencil. He went up to the front and said:
Do you have a Bible?
Right, lets go to the square, and you will speak to one person, who happens
to pass by.
Who knows the Bread that after eating will never hunger?
the people turned in the other direction... And I told him:
Please, we are making fools of ourselves...!
I have that bread, and He calls Himself Christ!
always walked along with a notebook... Ah, next week I have go to
see that man at the garage. While the man was changing the wheel
to the car, he told him: How important it is to change bad things,
eh? And to the lift attendant he began by saying: All that
goes up, some day must come down...
day he went to my house... He asked me:
Do your neighbors know Christ?
he took the Scriptures, and immediately went out the door...
Hello, neighbor, did you know that there is a pastor living next door?
neighbor told him:
Well, Im Catholic.
But I didnt ask you that. Did you know?
Yes, I knew...
And has he spoken to you about Christ?
Eh... Yes, the truth...
But, did he speak to you of the true Christ? Do you want to know Him?
Its just that, as I told you, Im Catholic...
Im not Catholic, but I want to speak to you about Christ...
Brothers and sisters, I dont need to study to give Christs testimony to the world. I only need more of Christ.
it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he became angry... And the Lord God
prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade
for his head to deliver him from his misery. The Scriptures
say that he went to bed to the east of Nineveh, because it was from the
east that Gods judgments came. He was thinking: God wont
save them. This society will die, this world will be lost.
is coming, brothers and sisters, but that doesnt mean we shouldnt
preach! We should not use Christs coming as an escapism. We should
use it as a testimony. The Lord is coming! The testimony is shining out
more and more strongly. Who will go for us? Brother, the Lord is
calling your heart, your life.
the following day, God sent a small worm. It is another irony, brothers;
a small worm that damages the plant. And, do you know what Jonah does?
He gets angry, he is irritated. God wanted to say to him: That is
not how I work. I dont want to destroy. Jonah had not worked
for the plant, he had not done anything for it, and yet, he wanted it,
because it gave him satisfaction.
did not create humanity so that it would be lost. Our history as children
of God doesnt end with destruction, it ends with salvation! How
will the history of your relatives end?
What will you do, church?