Jonah and the fear of the Lord

This morning the Lord took me to the book of Jonah.  He’d talked with me a few months ago about Jonah & Not Missing God’s Plan, so I was curious to see what He’d have to show me today…

You probably know the story already but let me set the scene quickly – The people of Nineveh are a mess, they are steeped in ungodliness, and God is about to judge them.  In His mercy, God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell them what He’s going to do (God is so kind – wants to give them one more chance to get right).

Jonah’s response to God is to go in the complete opposite direction.  Why?  Because he doesn’t like the people of Nineveh and wants to see them zapped probably.  He (like many believers) probably saw their ungodliness and felt very self righteous and thought they “deserved” God’s judgment.

Anyhow, so Jonah heads the opposite direction.  And so he’s on this boat going away from where God told him to go (come on now – you know we’ve all done this at least once!), and God sends a storm.  The storm is so severe even the unbelievers on the boat know God’s upset about something!  And they all cry out to their gods.

Meanwhile, Jonah is asleep in the bottom of the boat.  Since none of the other gods helped, they woke up Jonah and said cry out to your God.  They also decide to cast lots to see who is the reason God’s so upset.  Picture them like drawing straws or something.  Anyhow – God works through that so they know it’s Jonah who is the problem.

They are all wondering ‘who the heck is this guy that he made God so mad?!’ So they ask him and in Jonah 1:9 Jonah replies, “I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.” Hold on a second… think about this, he is blatantly being disobedient to God but look at how he’s describing himself… as one who fears the Lord.  Here’s the problem with that, the fear of the Lord includes being obedient!

Here’s the big question: How many of us would describe ourselves as being one who “fears the Lord“, yet who isn’t walking in obedience and submission to God’s will?


Before I end, let me also quickly contrast that to Nineveh’s response to Jonah’s message to them of impending judgment… in Jonah 3:5 “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”

So the unbelievers – the ones so ungodly that God is about to judge them – THEY hear and believe and respond to the word of the Lord.  A stark contrast to Jonah who heard and rebelled…

2 thoughts on “Jonah and the fear of the Lord

  1. I didn’t realize that I had not commented on this. The same day you posted this, I was also reading Jonah. I love the story because I have felt like him so many times in my life. God says something, and I run the opposite way. God stirred my heart when I was reading it this time over how much my own heart has changed. He is in the business of changing the way we think. I just love this whole story. 🙂

  2. Do you remember that quirky song: “We Fall Down, We Get Up”? I think that’s the name of it. Somewhere in there it says: “The saints are just the sinners who fall down and then get up”. I like that about Jonah (and Peter stepping off the boat). I can relate to him. I can be so stubborn (believe it or not:), but then I “get up” and God is able to take me right where He wants me…there’s no “start over” but pick up where I left off. His grace…abundant: FREE!

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