Anglican Morning Devotion for 22 May 2021 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” (Jonah 1:1-3)
There are moments in the life of the Christian when he may grow weary of his obligations to God and his neighbor. Instead of constantly surrendering fleshly desires in favor of spiritual living, we may be inclined to throw up our hands and go fishing. This may happen in the lives of devoted servants of Christ, and sometimes even His ministers. It even happened to a prophet of the Lord named Jonah.
Like many men of faith who know the law but are ignorant of the Spirit, Jonah was self-righteous to the point of contempt. His self-righteousness even overruled his obedience to the God who called him as a prophet.
There were two strains in the progeny of Abraham – those who had the faith of Abraham (spiritual children), and those who had only the blood of Abraham coursing through their veins (physical descendants). Jonah was of the latter sort. He took unjustified pride in the Hebrew race and wanted nothing to do with the other races God had created. The Gospel of Christ, however, was a fulfillment of that faith of Abraham which crosses all bloodlines. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29) The same Savior to whom Abraham looked in faith is the same we look back upon in the accomplished deed.
Pride of nation and people is a commendable quality, and Jonah possessed that quality in abundance, but such sentiment and patriotic pride should never equal or exceed our loyalty and obedience we owe God our Maker. I have heard many Americans proclaim, “My country, right or wrong!” while they should more rightfully claim, “My country under God!” Nineveh was a mighty enemy of Israel. Jonah loved his countrymen and did not wish to see that enemy escape the wrath of God. So, he undertook to disregard the counsel of God to go into that nation and preach repentance for fear they might repent and be saved.
The presence of God to those who stand in His good favor is a mighty blessing, but to those who rebel and turn away, His vengeance is sure and unrelenting. Jonah fled, he thought, from the presence of the Lord. He undertook a direction that took him out of the Holy place, and was constantly down, and down, and down. We are always on the downward path when we flee the counsel of our God. Jonah, in his intent to flee to Tarshish, went DOWN to Joppa; went DOWN into a ship; and went DOWN into the hull of the ship to sleep. He thereby brought terror upon the crew of the ship and the other passengers. The innocent also suffer for the disobedience of others among them. God watched Jonah every step of his futile journey. He found him at the opportune place of judgment – the high seas and in the midst of the storm.
In order to appease an angry God, the crewmen were compelled to throw Jonah into the sea. Once more, Jonah went DOWN into the deep; DOWN into the belly of the whale; and DOWN to the unfathomable depths of the sea in the belly of the whale. But even a whale has standards of hygiene. The whale could not digest the course and unwholesome flavor of a disobedient prophet. After three days, the belly of the whale could no longer stomach Jonah and he was cast out on dry land. God won, Jonah lost. Now he would continue to Nineveh and accomplish the purpose for which God sent him.
Wouldn’t it be easier if we just surrendered and lived life God’s Way instead of our own way? Jonah went a’fishing, but became the bait for God’s fish. His life was an antitype of that of our Lord Jesus Christ: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 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 12:39-40; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)