Ah, the book of Jonah. What a refreshing story to read with eyes that have been deep into Chronicles and Kings for weeks of history, wars and the legacies of kings. My first instinct was to just skim this story because I’ve read the book and sung the songs of Jonah’s journey about a zillion times. What more could I really get out of this story? As God would have it, and always does, something new. That’s the beauty of Bible’s story, it never stops teaching, guiding, rebuking and showing us ways to live closer to our Heavenly Father.
So far, through the Old Testament, we have seen God appoint angels to deliver visions, prophets to deliver messages and kings to lead countries. However, as I read Jonah with fresh eyes this year, I noticed the word “appointed” repeated over and over, but God wasn’t appointing “people” this time. In the book of Jonah we see God appoint the creatures and elements of His creation to lead and guide Jonah to Nineveh and teach him lessons of love. Let’s take a look.
After Jonah receives the word of the Lord to head to Nineveh and deliver His message of “you better straighten up or you will be destroyed”, Jonah hits the road to hide from the Lord, but who can hide from the Lord? “Now the LORD had appointed a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)
God appoints a huge fish. I love it! Anyone who claims we don’t serve a creative God hasn’t read this story. So, after Jonah and God have some alone time, in the belly of the huge fish, he gets vomited out to complete his task. I wonder if Jonah is regretting taking the hard way at this point in the story? I have been there. Trying to go my own way and ignore the path God has set before me never gets me to far and usually just adds some additional heartache and delays the inevitable.
But God wasn’t done appointing . . . in chapter 4 He appoints a plant, a worm and a scorching east wind to open the eyes of a pouting Jonah who was disappointed God forgave the people of Nineveh and relented from His plans of destroying them after they repented. These verses remind that our God is the Creator of all we see and don’t see. He is in every detail of everything that has happened, is happening and will happen. He is the same today as he was and always will be. Our hearts may waver, but His remains steady. His hand is on all of creation and His plan is perfect. I pray we will begin to see God at work in all that is around us each day. Our God cares for us more than we can ever imagine. So much so, He is in the movement of the tiniest creatures and can still hear each prayer you pray and count each tear that falls from your face.
Then the LORD God appointed a plant, and it grew up to provide shade over Jonah’s head to ease his discomfort. Jonah was greatly pleased with the plant. When dawn came the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, and it withered. As the sun was rising, God appointed a scorching east wind. The sun beat down so much on Jonah’s head that he almost fainted, and he wanted to die. He said, “It’s better for me to die than to live.” Then God asked Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “Yes,” he replied. “It is right. I’m angry enough to die!” So the LORD said, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in a night and perished in a night. Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” Jonah 4:6-11