From what I’ve heard all my life, you’d think that the “big fish” in Jonah is the only thing worth talking about. Our prophets class has found far more and this is just a quick overview class, nothing as detailed as verse by verse.
The passage above may not be the first lesson we garnered from Jonah, but it is one we need more than we realize. Here is Jonah, the only Jew, the only member of God’s covenant people, on this boat as a mighty storm threatens to engulf it and take them all to a watery grave, and he is the only one not praying. In fact, a heathen captain has to take him to task to get him started.
Have you ever been embarrassed by the zeal of a “heathen” friend or neighbor when that zeal should have come from you first? Have you ever fallen to pieces while one of them calmly said, “Let’s pray about this,” and did? Have you ever related a wonderful occurrence in your life without once mentioning the goodness of God only to have someone else “give God the glory” with every other word? Have you ever had your door knocked on by someone looking to convert a soul when you have never even invited a friend to services? We are Jonah, folks, far too many times.
I would blame it on such a fervent desire to avoid false doctrine that we pushed the pendulum much too far. I would do that except for this—nowadays I am not even sure we know which “false doctrine” we are trying to avoid. It has simply become tradition. We don’t do anything to call attention to ourselves, nor to God for that matter. We want to be quiet and comfortable, certainly not “out there” with our religion, and so our God is not praised nor thanked nor acknowledged when He should be. “We don’t do that,” I’ve heard it said. And I, for one, would like to know why.
None of those things is foreign to the scriptures. You find all of them abounding in the epistles and saturating the Psalms. God is everywhere. What He does is always mentioned. He is the reason for praise, for fear, for awe, and He expects us to acknowledge it.
Why didn’t Jonah do so? Because he was trying to get away from God. He was trying to avoid his mission. He had God placed in a box in a town in a covenant land and thought if he got far enough away, God would forget about him.
Is that why we do it? Are we trying to avoid God everywhere except the church building? Is it far more comfortable to hide ourselves with silence than to proclaim our faith?
When the world can shame my faith, can I even keep calling it that?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Prov 3:5-6.