Jonah Gets a Bad Rap

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12:40

For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.

Luke 11:30

My oldest son’s name is Jonah. Almost every time a preacher mentions the prophet, my son cringes because they often focus on the mistakes and complaints that Jonah made. I do not disagree with their points, but I think Jonah gets a bad rap too often, and we do not remember that he was a prophet.

First of all, Jesus call him a prophet. That should be enough for us to respect Jonah a lot more. Not only does Jesus acknowledge that Jonah was a prophet, He uses the account of Jonah as the sign of the most important event in human history – Jesus will raise from the tomb after three days!

That is no small thing.

Yes, he made mistakes, but so do we! But Jonah also did some great things. From the belly of the great fish, Jonah said the clearest statement of sovereign grace ever stated – “Salvation is of the Lord!”

Furthermore, Jonah did preach to Nineveh and Nineveh  did repent. Before we judge Jonah to harshly, have we been that effective in our personal discipleship and ministry?

I am by no means excusing the disobedience, racism, and complaining of Jonah, but I am reminding us that he was a prophet sent by God. His faults and failures show us that he was a mortal man. The Bible has many accounts of great men of God making mistakes. Peter denied the Lord. Thomas doubted. John Mark forsook Paul. Paul and Barnabas argued. There are so many more examples of the same in scripture.

My point is this. Humans have faults but that does not mean we cannot serve God, and serve Him in a mighty way. God used mortal men to do great things back then, and He does the same today.

I say, let’s repent of our failures and get back to work. The kingdom of God is too important for us to make excuses. Rather than act like the Prophet Jonah, let’s learn from his mistakes and press on!

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