Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for this daily challenge. It’s Thursday, the day we try to apply and live out what we’ve learned this week from the Bible. This week we’ve been studying the story of Jonah, a prophet in the Old Testament who tried to run away from his God-given mission. God stopped him with a storm, where he got thrown into the sea. God saved him by having him swallowed by a great fish, then spat him back out on a beach and sent him on his mission again. His mission was clearly important enough that God wasn’t willing to change his plan, or his messenger. God is planning to rescue 120,000 people in the city of Nineveh from their path to destruction. They aren’t Jews, they aren’t Jonah’s kind of people, but God intends to save them from themselves anyway.
I think the point of the story is simply that God will save the nations, and nothing will get in his way.
God has a plan of salvation that is bigger than the Jews, it includes non-Jews, or Gentiles. As unpalatable as that may be to Jonah, God will get it done.
But this is just one city. What about other people, cities, and nations? For them, Jonah points us forward to Jesus.
Throughout this series we’ve been looking for signs that point to Jesus in the Old Testament.
One interesting parallel is that Jesus also fell asleep in a boat during a huge storm, and had a role to play in calming it after he was woken up by scared sailors. Not sure what that means, but it’s a similarity between Jonah and Jesus’ stories.
A far more important one is here, that would be coincidental enough if Jesus himself had not mentioned it. Shortly before he warned his disciples about his imminent crucifixion, Jesus said:
An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. (Matthew 16:4 ESV)
As best anyone can tell, Jesus is saying the sign of Jonah is that he was essentially dead inside a fish for three days, before he emerged alive and saved an entire nation. Jesus might have been trying to say that if we look for signs we expect, we’ll be disappointed because he’s all about doing something unexpected – like dying and rising after three days.
Jesus wanted his hearers to look at Jonah, and see how he’d saved an entire city-state with after spending three days essentially dead. He wants them to get the message that Jesus will save the entire human race, Gentile and Jew, after three days of literal death.
That’s exactly what he did! Our challenge is to avoid Jonah’s mistake, and be thankful for our own God-given salvation by grace, rejoice when it’s extended to others, and especially when it’s received by others.
Challenge: Who is God challenging you to tell about your faith in Jesus, or invite to a church or event? Have you been running away? Will you turn around and fulfill your mission before God has to turn you around?