Jim Chafee - Conversations between Jonah and God

Chapter 1:1, "the word of the Lord came unto Jonah" ... Verse 2, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it." This seems to have been the Lord speaking to Jonah, but we don't read that Jonah gave a reply. He just got up and fled. It was only the Lord speaking, Jonah gave no reply. Jonah would not speak, therefore the Lord sent him an experience. Jonah was the son of a prophet. He understood about receiving a message from the Lord. At this time, Jonah was speaking to others but we don't read that he gave any reply to God. In verse 6, the shipmaster came to him, and told him, "Arise, call upon thy God" ... He was told to pray but we don't read that he did at that time.

It was 12 verses later when he finally prayed. When we are fleeing from God, unwilling to do His will, we are hindered from praying. Other men prayed, those in the ship, but Jonah was silent to the Lord. When Jonah would not pray, the Lord used other means to communicate with him. God was still thinking of Jonah, even when Jonah would not pray. Chapter 2:1, "Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly." All but the last verse in chapter 2 is a prayer of Jonah. He was crying out for help. The Lord
was preparing him for a mission in Nineveh
.

The most important part of preparing for a mission is not finding a hall. It is not giving out invitations; not preparing a sermon for the meeting. The most important part is praying, preparing our own heart that our words could have life and meaning to those who will hear. In chapter one, the Lord spoke to Jonah, but Jonah was silent. Then the situation was reversed. We don't read in chapter two of the Lord speaking to Jonah, but of Jonah praying to the Lord. The next time the Lord spoke to Jonah; His message was the same. Chapter 3:1-2, "The Lord spoke again to Jonah. Arise go unto Nineveh and preach unto it." We heard in our meeting on Sunday that the Lord didn't make the task required of Jonah easier after the experience. We may think He would give Jonah something easier to do, make it a little lighter.

God hasn't made it easier in our day because perhaps there is more to face. Life becomes a struggle, yet God's will doesn't become less. He requires the same of all men in all generations for all times. So it will be for all times. This time Jonah knew, he must obey. Chapter 4:3, "And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, 'Take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.'" Verse 4, "Then said the Lord, 'Doest thou well to be angry?'" Jonah did not reply. They were back to silent communication, and again the Lord prepared an experience for Jonah. Verse 8, Jonah seemed to be talking to himself, "It is better for me to die than to live." In verse 9, God spoke again, the same words as the last time He had spoken, in verse 4, "Doest thou well to be angry?" Jonah replied, "Yes, I do well to be angry, even unto death." I believe Jonah later regretted those words.

Then the Lord began to reason with Jonah. This is the part I really love. When the Lord speaks to us, no one else hears. The one sitting beside doesn't know what the Lord is saying to us. No one but Jonah could have known of this conversation between himself and the Lord. The only way this could be recorded here in the last chapter of this little book, is because Jonah himself told it, and perhaps was the one to write it down. It is wonderful, beautiful words. It shows how the Lord strives with us, reasons with us, to help us to understand His will is best. It is a beautiful finish to this little book.

It was Jonah’s confession, acknowledgement, "The Lord was right. I was wrong." The Lord won the argument, and Jonah was silent. He had nothing more to say. End of the story. The order in this little book is similar to the order in the book of Job. One speaks in one chapter, the next chapter another is speaking. Here, in chapter one, the Lord speaks. Chapter two is Jonah speaking. Chapter three, again the Lord will speak. Chapter four is communications. Both were speaking; the message was received and understood. That is what we are desiring most.