Posted by: Jeff Warren | October 30, 2009

Repenting for right-doing

One of the best known, engaging, and profound books in the Bible is the Book of Jonah. I’ve been living with Jonah for a couple of weeks and I’m stunned by the depth of this great story.  Most of us know of “Jonah and the whale” (great fish) but have you really considered the deep truths of the story.  Consider a few:

Lessons from the life of Jonah

1. I am called by God to bring His truth to the world- to be a witness for Him.  (1:1-2) Like Jonah, you and I have been called to be evangelists- we are all called to proclaim the great love and mercy of our great God.

2. I do not set the agenda for God’s call on my life. (1:3) You must answer God’s call on your life with no strings attached.

3. Delayed obedience can come with a huge price tag. (1:4-17) When God speaks we need to respond immediately.

4. The storms of my life will make you or break you. (2:1-10) It’s not whether or not you will go through a storm; it’s a matter of when. You’re either coming out of one, in one, or heading into one.  In the storm you will choose God’s salvation of not.

5. God’s plan for me supersedes my own plans and desires.  (3:1-10) As a Christ follower my only role is to trust and obey. Jonah wanted to decide for himself where to go and what to do.  He wanted to put discriminatory limits on God’s grace.  But unlike Jonah, God’s love is not bound my limits.

6. I may need to repent of my reasons for right-doing. (4:1-4) This is an amazing and troubling thing about this story: Disobedient Jonah was no better than obedient Jonah (in fact, he may have been worse).  He did what God wanted him to do but he loathed the people God sent him to and he loathed God throughout.  He is never positive about God, about the people, about his role… never!  He proclaimed the destruction of Nineveh and when it didn’t happen he is angry with God.  Imagine: he’s angry because God is so compassionate.  Jonah wanted God to prove that he was right.  He was using God to confirm that he was right, he wanted God to confirm his ministry, his existence- he wanted to use God for his own means.  Why do you do what you do?  What motivates you to do what you do as a Christian… really? Is it purely out of your love for God or do you have other motives?

Heart check: Am I truly grateful for all Christ has done for me? (4:5-11) At the heart of Jonah’s problem was his ingratitude.  Nothing satisfied him.  Ungrateful people are never positive people.  There is no such thing as a joyful, ungrateful person.  Jonah demanded mercy from God for himself but didn’t want the same for his enemies. Like us, while Jonah is consistently inconsistent, God is consistent throughout!  Don’t run.  Join God in what He’s up to in your life today!



  1. Melinda and I are going to write a children’s musical about Jonah one day. I’ll have to tuck your notes into my file of good Jonah stuff! I can already see the Bible study materials coming together for the musical…

  2. Great stuff. There’s so many modern-day appplications crammed in that little 4 chapter book. Jonah – It’s not just for kid’s anymore!!

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