Forgiveness for a Disobedient Preacher
A devotional thought from Ken Easley for “The Sign of Jonah”
The Bible doesn’t flinch in portraying the weaknesses of its main characters. David committed adultery and murder. Peter denied Jesus. Jonah persisted in disobeying God as much as he could. When God told him to go east to Nineveh, he bought a ticket for a boat heading west. When he reluctantly preached and found—surprise—that his audience repented, he became so angry that he wanted to die. He valued the shade of an overnight plant more than the souls of the people of Nineveh.
The Book of Jonah ends with Jonah still pouting. Did Jonah ever realize how foolish he had been? If you were God, how would you have treated him? His behavior was despicable. So, what was Jonah’s hope to find forgiveness? Actually, his prayer from inside the fish’s belly shows that he truly sought repentance: “You raised my life from the Pit, LORD my God…I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the LORD!” (Jonah 2:6, 9, HCSB).
Thus, Jonah learned that forgiveness is available even for those who know God, followed Him and yet have fallen into awful sin. The good news of the gospel is not just for those far from God, such as the people of Nineveh. The gospel is for converted people too. Thankfully, the words of 1 John 1:9 applied to the prophet Jonah, to King David, to the apostle Peter, and to us as well: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Pause and Reflect
• Have you known someone—perhaps even yourself—who needs to learn that the gospel is for converted people too?
•Meditate on the prayer in Jonah 2. What parts are you most able to identify with?