…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Are there jokes, humor in the Bible? What if we disobey or miss God’s will, plan? – Jonah, Balaam

Ever heard of a disobedient prophet?
Can God use the reluctant,  the un-qualified ? … or only the perfect ?

Is God solemn, stern, … devoid of humor, laughter?

What happens when we refuse to obey the Lord’s leading and direction?
Does God give up on us?

How does God speak to us?

How did God speak to some prophets in the Bible?

What if God asks us to share the gospel with our … enemies ?

In this blog, we’ll explore these questions in 2 stories from the Old Testament — Balaam & Jonah.

Oh, by the way, please don’t try this at home,
we’re  not  encouraging anyone to disobey God through this blog.

There is a time to cry
    and a time to laugh.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NCV)

A joyful heart is good medicine, …
Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the  joy  set before Him
endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

See also Psalm 2, Psalm 37:12,13

Here’s some examples of verses with hilariously funny situations

Proverbs 26:17 (NET)
Interfering in someone else’s quarrel as you pass by
is like grabbing a dog by the ears.

In real life, it’ll be really silly to grab a dog by the ears,  … right?
Downright dangerous.
So, then … why interfere with a quarrel that has nothing to do with us?

In describing the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, Jesus used exaggeration, wit and pun (in Aramaic) for effect,
24 You blind guides,
who strain out a gnat  ( qalmâ’)
and swallow a camel! 
Matthew 23:24 (NASB

The utter foolishness of finely straining out in detail a tiny gnat,
with closed eyes (blind),
and totally miss the large, humongous camel.
And … we do see this in real life —  focusing on every little detail,
but avoiding the elephant in the room.

Here’s another one:

Acts 19:14-16 (MSG)
“I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!”
The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man
when the evil spirit talked back:

“I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul,
but who are you?”

Then the possessed man went berserk—jumped the exorcists,
beat them up, and tore off their clothes.
Naked and bloody,
they got away as best they could.

A most embarrassing lesson, …. that one cannot forget.

And if a friend is stuck with one of these latest model,

Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife

19 Better to live in a desert
    than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife
Proverbs 21:9,  19;   25:24 (NIV)

 … God help him!

Let’s start with a humorous incident that happened to Balaam, a ‘prophet’ for hire,  in the book of Numbers.

Balaam,  was bent on going in the opposite direction from what God told him,
… the lure of honor and riches was too enticing for Balaam.
Along the way on his chosen path,  … suddenly

28 Then the Lord made the donkey talk,
and she said to Balaam,
“What have I done to make you hit me  three times?”
Numbers 22:28 (NCV)

a talking donkey … in the Bible?

Sometimes … God sends a female donkey to teach us.

Before this happened, … three times, Balaam asked God, … hoping God would endorse his plan.
After receiving God’s answer,
…  he still stubbornly went ahead in the direction he  really  wanted;
not what  the Lord wanted.

22  But God became angry because Balaam went,
so the angel of the Lord stood in the road to stop Balaam.  …

Why did Balaam hit his donkey?

Three times repeatedly, … the donkey blatantly refused to go in the direction that her master, Balaam wanted.

Why did donkey disobey Balaam?

25 Again the donkey saw the angel of the Lord …
 she tried to save Balaam’s life, so
…  she walked close to one wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it.
So he hit her again., …

The donkey gave Balaam a timely warning
(from God).

In great frustration at donkey’s stubbornness,
Balaam screamed at the donkey,

29  “You have made me look   foolish!

( huh? … is he out of his mind, … talking to a donkey?
… scolding in frustration at a donkey?)

I wish I had a sword in my hand!
I would kill you right now!”

31 Then the Lord let Balaam see the angel of the Lord,
who was standing in the road
with his sword drawn.

Then Balaam bowed facedown on the ground.
Numbers 22: 22, 25, 29, 31 (NCV)

Donkey saw the angel much earlier, ..  before Balaam realised what was going on.
Donkey saved Balaam’s life, … from the angel’s sword.
(whose sword was more powerful?)

Amazingly, with uncanny precision,
… donkey’s behavior  mirrored   Balaam’s !
… Balaam’s ‘sword’ frustration with donkey  mirrored  God’s displeasure with him !

and, … Balaam grumbled that donkey made him look foolish !
which in reality, … he really was !!       (a jerk!)

The tables were hilariously turned on Balaam !

God knows and sees all.

Could Balaam see the donkey’s behavior reflected his ?
Did he realise how God felt about his behavior ?

Detours away from God’s clear direction, … blind and dull us from God’s light & spiritual realities, .. and as a result Balaam hobbled in pain !
Balaam went ahead … hobbling with his crushed foot,
… a nagging reminder, … for him to follow God.

Donkey was more spiritual than Balaam,
and much smarter than Balaam too!

God used  a smart prophetic donkey.
(there’s hope for all of us 🙂 )

When we’re hard of hearing, … God  repeats  His message again, … a bit louder each time,
creatively weaving His message into our everyday situations to speak to us,
hoping we’re snap out of it —
… sometimes, even thru unexpectedly means, … like a spiritually smart donkey!
or a crushed foot.

God is speaking … are we listening !

(remember any chatty donkeys in the movies?)

3 times in the New Testament, Balaam’s wayward way is highlighted as a warning to us (1 Peter 2:15, 16, Jude 1:11, 2:14)

15 They (false teachers) have left the straight way
and wandered off to follow
the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.

16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey
—an animal without speech
—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
2 Peter 2:15, 16 (NIV)

Talking donkey …
how about a   talking   tree shrub …

God spoke to Moses, through a burning bush that he spotted in the wilderness, in his everyday job of shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep,
2 … the bush was burning with fire,
yet the bush was not consumed …
… God called to him from the midst of the bush 

Exodus 3:2, 4 (NASB)

Let’s look at a prophet – Jonah.
2 Kings 14:25 tells us that he’s a prophet in Israel.

The book of Jonah is only just 48 verses.  Inside we find an exquisitely written book, filled and overflowing  … with God,  His ways, and His creativity.
A mini-gospel of hope, grace and mercy to both Jews & Gentiles.

Furthermore, the book is about God reaching out and speaking to Gentiles in the Old Testament.
The people of Nineveh (the capital of Assyria) was a rising power in the Middle East,
and a dreaded enemy of Israel, .. with a history of military aggression.

As this is a blog (not a book), … we’ll explore Jonah chapter 1,
( before the man-swallowing ‘whale in the tale’ )
and briefly mention the other 3 chapters..

Let’s jump to Jonah 1.  We’ll use a Bible translation for children (NCV)

The Lord spoke his word to Jonah son of Amittai:
“Get up, go to the great city of Nineveh,
and preach against it, because I see the evil things they do.”

paraphrasing, …
preach to heathen, pagan Nineveh, ..  (an enemy of Jonah’s country)
that Jonah’s God will be destroying the city,
… unless they make peace with God.

imagine, … saying this to a foreign military power!

Jonah got up to run away from the Lord
by going to Tarshish. He went to the city of Joppa, where he found a ship that was going to the city of Tarshish.  Jonah paid for the trip and went aboard, planning to go to Tarshish
to run away from the Lord.

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish
from the presence of the Lord.
So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish
from the presence of the Lord.

God said to Jonah, “Get up, … go, … preach …”

Jonah got up  …
to run away from the Lord, … from the presence of the Lord

Perhaps these may be Jonah’s thoughts:

Am I not faithfully ministering here, … why go faraway … over there?

Why bother to save a bunch of un-chosen, unclean, heathen-istic Gentile strangers in a foreign land eating strange food ?

Why go to the capital city of our Assyrian enemy?
Why save our
enemy ?
They’re evil, … they deserve it, … right?

Besides, … I may get killed,
and my country people charge me,  “Traitor !

Why all the trouble, … safer to run away …

Here I am, … send  .. him !

Nineveh is inland towards the north-east of Israel.
Instead, Jonah took a Mediterranean cruise, and sailed to the farthest west, … to Tashish (somewhere in Spain)  to run away from the Lord, …. from the presence of the Lord

Is God going to give up on Jonah ? .. write him off ?
A failed prophet ?  … forget about him?

How will God respond?

Can Jonah run fast enough away from the Lord?

But the Lord sent a great wind on the sea,
which made the sea so stormy
that the ship was in danger of breaking apart. 

The sailors were afraid,
and each man cried to his own god.

They began throwing the cargo from the ship
into the sea to make the ship lighter.

Somehow, … along the way,
… his lovely cruise retreat … was interrupted by a great, life-threatening storm.

So violent was the wind and storm, that the seasoned, experienced sailors were afraid.
The Gentile sailors started to pray and  cried to their own gods.
They threw cargo off the ship.   In times like this, … material things don’t matter that much anymore, … thrown off, .. forgotten, .. whatever their value ($ ¥ € £).

each man cried to his own god
A big prayer meeting on the ship.

I remembered a colleague sharing how he was in a toilet
on a plane, when suddenly there was a very violent turbulence,
He clung for dear life.
He remarked,  “even if you don’t believe in God, … you will pray! 
(its ok to pray, … even with one’s pants down)

While everyone was frantically trying to save the ship and the people,
where was Jonah?

… But Jonah had gone down far inside the ship
to lie down, and he fell fast asleep.

The storm was rocking Jonah to deep sleep !

Recapping the story,
Jonah was to 
get  up  
to go to Nineveh,

Jonah went  down  to Joppa      (NASB, ESV, NKJV)
went  down  into the ship
            (NASB, ESV, NKJV)
and gone  down  far inside the ship
to lie  down,
and he fell fast asleep.

(even the language reflects Jonah’s spiral down-wards, … away from God … finally, down into the depths of the sea)

Can Jonah truly run away from the presence of the Lord?

far inside the ship,  far away from the frantic, noisy commotion above deck
Jonah lied down, and he fell fast asleep, … reflecting also his own spiritual sleep — no desire to have anything to do with God.

‘don’t bother me, … God ‘
‘don’t talk to me, … God’


Ever felt like that ?

Furthermore, his deep sleep also reflected his sad apathy
— no desire to care what’s happening to people around him;

‘don’t care .. dunno .. not my problem’

‘please don’t disturb’ … sshhhh

The captain of the ship came and said,

“Why are you sleeping?
Don’t you know … what’s happening outside ?
Don’t you care, Jonah ?

Get up and pray to your god!
Maybe your god will pay attention to us,
and we won’t die!”

Jonah’s nice slumber and sweet dreams of Tashish,
… was ruined when the captain woke him up and said,
“Why are you sleeping?
Get up  and pray to your god! ..”

Exactly the last thing in the world Jonah wanted to hear.
pray to your god!

an ear-splitting alarm bell, .. awoke the slumbering prophet,
shaken  by the captain !

prophet Jonah,
.. why have you missed the
  upper deck  prayer meeting ?

Jonah wanted to run away from the Lord,
away from God’s direction,
“Get up, … go, … preach …”
here’s a Gentile heathen captain saying to him

“Get up … pray to your god! ..”

sounds like Balaam’s smart donkey, … doesn’t it?

The heathen captain and sailors were more prayerful, .. than the prophet!

After throwing stuff out of the ship, and crying out to their own gods,
… the ship was still being tossed and turned, … out of control in the perfect storm.

In the midst of the violent and wet rocking,
… the sailors had another idea,
( this seemed like an unexpected freak storm & wind, … something strange about this storm)

Then the men said to each other,
“Let’s throw lots to see who caused these troubles to happen to us.”

When they threw lots,
the lot showed that the trouble had happened
because of Jonah. 

Wow!  Jackpot!
Jonah just won the lottery!

‘ me !?!
… why me? ‘

Then they said to him,
“Tell us,    who caused   our trouble?
What is your job? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”

The sailors were curious,
who … caused the trouble ?”

Can God be blamed ? ..  Is it God’s fault ?

Then Jonah said to them,

“I am a Hebrew.
I fear the Lord, the God of heaven,
who made the sea and the land.”

.. who made the sea !! ??

oh no,
but, … why?

Notice, … Jonah avoided the sailor’s second question,
What is your job?

If the sailors heard — prophet of God,
they’re be even more alarmed.

I fear the Lord
instinctively, like the sailors, … Jonah saw the quiet fingerprints of God shaping the situation

I fear the Lord, … but was Jonah’s heart in sync with his mouth?   

10 The men were very afraid,
and they asked Jonah,

“What terrible thing did  you do ?”

Its almost as though …
the sailors were echoing … God’s question to Jonah,

(They knew he was running away from the Lord
because he had told them.)

11 Since the wind and the waves of the sea
were becoming much stronger,

as time ticked away, .. the storm became more stormy

they said to him,
“What should we do to you
to make the sea calm down for us?”

they asked, ‘how?’

12 Jonah said to them,
“Pick me up,
and throw me into the sea,

and then it will calm down.

I know it is my fault
that this great storm has come on you.”

They asked, “who caused  our trouble?”
 Jonah admitted,  “I know it is my fault”

A twist in the story, … a sudden change in Jonah’s heart.

God’s first instruction to Jonah was
“Get up, … go, … preach …”

to a bunch of strangers,
..  in a foreign Gentile city, … a wicked enemy.
And if they do not heed God’s warning, … God will destroy the city, because of their wickedness —
a life-threatening situation to everyone in the city.

Here on this ship, … Jonah, himself faced a life threatening situation,
… together with innocent other Gentiles,
cause by his own mistake, .. his disobedience.

(just when he thought running away … was the safest thing to do)

I know it is my fault
He admits his error.

Having spent some days on the ship with these unfamiliar, heathen Gentiles eating and drinking with them,
they’re not so bad after all, … nice, decent folks, with families of their own.

“Pick me up,
and throw me into the sea
To avoid the inevitable

Rather than, .. everyone perish in the storm,
… all these innocent folks around him,
its best
… Jonah the guilty one perish … ‘walk the plank‘;
for the sake of everyone, and their families back home
— the noble, right thing to do.

Thus, Jonah chose to sacrifice himself
on behalf of all these heathen Gentiles on the ship.

What a change of heart !!

Here comes another twist,

13 Instead,
the men tried to row the ship back to the land,
but they could not,
because the sea was becoming more stormy.

as time ticked away, .. the storm became  even more stormy

Instead of getting angry with Jonah for causing all this mess,
and immediately  throw him overboard, … get rid of the troublemaker,
get on with life,
the men tried to row the ship back to the land

The shipmates refused to throw Jonah overboard,
… these heathen folks … wanted to save Jewish Jonah, … a total stranger (!?!?)

They were willing to   endanger the lives of everyone onboard,
just to save
just   one person   from going overboard and drown.

The shipmates chose to stand in solidarity
with the one and only .. guilty one.

Jonah’s life … was  precious  to these strangers,
Jonah … was not like a piece of flung   cargo

They genuinely wanted to …  save  him, .. Jonah.

(… Jonah, one person, …. a whole city, Nineveh ? )

Jonah saw the hearts of his shipmates
who were compassionate to him,  … a total stranger.

The prophet’s heart was touched again.
He received  compassion from the shipmates on the ship,
… mercy & grace from … Gentiles,

Finally, … in spite of their valiant efforts, … the storm was relentlessly tenacious and unyielding,

14 So the men cried to the Lord,    (not to their gods)
please don’t let us die
because of this man’s life;
please don’t think we are guilty of killing an innocent person. 

Lord,  you have caused all this to happen; you wanted it this way.” 

In another twist in this story,
the people turned their hearts to the Lord,
to Jonah’s God, .. the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land

Incredible! … a whole ship of people turned to the Lord  (revival !!)
through Jonah,
in spite of,  or because of,   his disobedience, and stubborness

In a sense, … Jonah was ‘prophetic’  🙂

I’m sure Jonah was shocked at their response to the Lord !
(  hmmm … what about the heathen and wicked Gentiles in Nineveh? )

15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea,
and the sea became calm


16 Then they began to fear the Lord very much;
they offered a sacrifice to the Lord
and made promises to him.

Immediately, after they got rid of Jonah, … the storm stopped,
the sea became calm
After they saw this miraculous sign,
they immediately turned their hearts to the Lord!
They worshiped the Lord, and surrendered their lives to Him.

Let’s recap the reactions of the people on the ship

At the beginning of the storm,
The sailors were afraid    (feared)

When Jonah told them about his God, and what he did,
10 The men were very afraid    (feared even more)

And finally?
16 they began to fear the Lord very much;
they offered a sacrifice to the Lord
and made promises to him

In the New Testament (Mark 4:41 ESV), when Jesus instantly hushed the storm,
the 12 disciples on the boat,  were filled with great fear
and said to one another,

“Who then is this,
that even the wind and the sea
obey him?”

Back to Jonah, … at the beginning of the storm, .. during the prayer meeting

each man cried to his own god

NO  answer.  None at all.
Instead, … the wind and the waves of the sea were becoming much stronger, .. the sea was becoming more stormy

And finally?
14 So the men cried to the Lord,      (not to their gods)
Lord, … ”
and followed Jonah’s instructions.

the sea became calm

What more evidence does anyone need to believe in the Lord God ?
God spoke clearly in the language of the sailors into their hearts.

God’s will was done !
the sailors received the kingdom of God,
through the storm !!

As these sailors would go on to sail on various other ships in the Mediterranean, and visit various cities on its coast,
the sailors would go on to share this sailor story of Jonah — an unforgettable, life-changing epic at sea
… wherever they went, … and whoever they met.

‘a whole ship of lives saved, .. by one man .. who halted the perfect storm’

And before each sail, … they’re pray to the Lord God for a safe, calm journey.

From one reluctant Jewish prophet, … to a ship-full of Gentile evangelists to the Mediterranean!
What an amazing God we serve!

God turned a prophet’s utter weakness,
into His glory!

What Jonah hoped for — his dream vacation from prophet work ..  didn’t take place.
In the ship,
… the captain interrupted his sleep with ‘Get up and pray to your god! ‘ 
and the rest is His-story,
… something far better happened, for God’s glory!

“God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.”
— Martin Luther

Now that peace returned on the sea and the sailor’s hearts,
… a storm started in Jonah’s heart …

In a splash, … Jonah disappeared into the murky waters of the Mediterranean.

as he sank like a rock into the deep waters,

2:5 The waters of the sea closed around my throat.
    The deep sea was all around me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.

and just when Jonah could not hold his breath anymore, .. his lungs bursting for air, …  burning with pain,
… in the nick of time,
in God’s great mercy and faithfulness,

 1:17 The Lord caused a big fish to swallow Jonah,
and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. (NASB)

In God’s mercy, … Jonah’s story did not end in the depths of the sea, …
erased from eternity.

God had not forgotten about His dear, .. wet and cold prophet, Jonah.

Jonah was now on another cruise … God’s cruise … to ?
and, … for how long?

Was he going to slowly die in the fish ?
A fish’s  lunch?

from a ship … to a submarine fish
— a fishy cruise … for a three night stay

2:1  While Jonah was inside the fish,

Miraculously, .. Jonah landed in some form of air-bubble within the man-swallowing fish.

In the fish stomach, the digestive gastric acids and digestive enzymes in the fish started working on Jonah, …
his skin and hair started to change & change color, .. the acids started to singe his skin .. and he was perfumed with a strange ‘fishy’ odor.
A fishy spa treatment.

Jonah himself, … now faced another life-threatening situation,
.. a taste of the ‘judgment of God‘,
… with nowhere else to run away … all the exit doors shut

2:1  While Jonah was inside the fish,
he prayed to the Lord his God and said, …

In this timeout,
… finally,
Jonah prayed to the Lord his God

Now, in the fish,
it was just .. Jonah and God.
Jonah finally, ... talked to God.

a honest, sincere talk, … from Jonah’s heart

2:2 … I was about to die,
    so I cried to you,
    and you heard my voice.

2:6 … you saved me from the pit of death,
    Lord my God. 

(echoing Psalm 86:13, 30:3)

Jonah had a near-death experience,   (a taste of Nineveh’s potential fate)
and in God’s mercy,
… despite what he had  not  done,

God heard his cry,
God’s grace reached out and saved Jonah’s life,
snatching him from the jaws of death.

Jonah was  alive  again!

 … In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me. …  

…  you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit  Jonah 2:1, 6 (NIV)

2:9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

When Jonah surrendered his heart,
after his prayer,    (end of chapter 2),

2:10 Then

the Lord spoke to the fish,
and the fish threw up Jonah onto the dry land.

After 3 days of tummy ache, … the fish had enough of Jonah,
the fish beached, … and threw up Jonah
in a yukky, smelly  vomit …

Jonah survived the storm, … the fish … the vomit …

the sailors  threw  him overboard,
& the fish  threw  him out,
(poor Jonah, … it seemed wherever he went, … he was getting thrown out) 

right back to where Jonah began,
… east, in the directon of Nineveh, … on dry land !

In the midst of this miss-adventure, … Jonah personally tasted the grace and mercy of God, … and experienced the faithful hand of God upon His life, … even though at times, Jonah chose to ignore God and His direction.

God had not given up on him, … yet!
despite what Jonah chose to do

A perfect snapshot of God’s grace and mercy

After his 3-day  fishy  makeover in the fish,
… imagine the reaction, of the Nineveh folks, … when Jonah suddenly appeared upon their doorstep.

‘oh no, … yuks! … I certainly don’t want to end up like him ! ‘

‘ and … oh … the stench …. yuks!’

a stinking prophet who looked like he just survived the apocalypse.

Wouldn’t anyone believe Jonah, … and fear His God!

2:10 the Lord spoke to the fish      (really? some folks may ask)

Jesus spoke about Jonah,
Luke 11:30,  Matthew 12:40, 41
30 As Jonah was a sign
for those people who lived in Nineveh,

the Son of Man
will be a sign for the people of this time.

12:40 Jonah was in the stomach of the big fish
for three days and three nights.

In the same way, the Son of Man will be in the grave three days and three nights. 41 On the Judgment Day the people from Nineveh will stand up with you people who live now,
and they will show that you are guilty.

When Jonah preached to them,
they were sorry and changed their lives.

After the fish vomited Jonah out, … and  Jonah’s rebellious streak was ejected out of him,

3:1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah

a second time: 

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.

God’s message and plan for Jonah was unchanged,
however, this time … Jonah’s heart was changed.
Jonah obeyed and went

… a second time …
Our merciful God, … the God of the second chance,

He knows we are weak.
Even prophets deserve a second chance,

what more evil Nineveh,
and the rest of us ?

Recapping Jonah:

In chapter 1, we began with a disobedient prophet, and ended with a ship full of Gentile sailors worshiping God.  The sailors were more prayerful to the Lord, … than Jonah.

In chapter 2, we ended with an obedient fish headed to shore and vomited Jonah out;
the fish was more obedient to the Lord, … than Jonah.
The Lord said  ‘Go’ , and the fish  went.

In chapter 3, Nineveh quickly and without hesitation, obeyed the word of the Lord from Jonah,
the Gentile city was more obedient to the Lord, … than the prophet.

(please read the rest of Jonah  for more)

Jonah represented a prophetic  typology of the heart and attitude of his own country in Jonah’s day,
and God’s merciful heart towards them, … as His mercy was extended with Jonah.

.. .Jesus said to them
“I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes
will enter the kingdom of God before you do.
Matthew 21:31 (NCV)

Chapter 2 also ends with one of the most important lines in the book, when Jonah confessed at the end of his prayer:

2:9 … Salvation comes from the Lord!

You thought I was worth saving
So, You came and change my life …
You thought I was to die for
So, You sacrificed Your life
Anthony Brown

Chapter 1 – the people in the the ship were saved from the storm, and believed in the Lord.

Chapter 2 – Jonah was miraculously saved from the sea and fish.  Jonah returned, repented and obeyed God.

Chapter 3 – the people in Nineveh city were saved from judgment, and believed in the Lord;  making peace with God.

Chapter 4 – God’s grace & mercy to anyone who turns their heart and believe in Him, .. even to wicked enemies — the Assyrians in their capital Nineveh.

Even enemies … deserve second chances.

… His name Jesus,
for He will save His people from their sins

Matthew 1:21 (NASB)

Let us, not  forfeit the mercy that could be ours …
let’s not  turn away from God’s love for us
Jonah 2:8 (NET, NIV)

Throughout the book of Jonah we see God dealing with Jonah’s heart and attitude,  in a myriad of creative ways.

And like the innocent sailors on the ship,
Jonah’s book ends with God asking him & us,
a simple heart question,

4:11 Then shouldn’t I show concern
for the great city Nineveh,

which has more than one hundred twenty thousand people
who do not know right from wrong
(120,000 young innocent children),
many animals
(like the fish who saved Jonah), too?”

Each little child and animal, was not merely an insignificant statistic
in the eyes of the Lord.
The Lord was concerned for each one He had lovingly and wonderfully made.

Thus, the Old Testament is not all about judgments, the Law and Israel.
Here’s a great example of the grace and mercy of God … to both Gentiles and Jew.

Here’s some other Assyrians (the enemies of Israel)  whom God touched:

Jesus said, “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet;
and none of them was cleansed,
but only Naaman the Syrian.”
  (a Syrian army captain)
Luke 4:27 (NASB)

God spoke to Elijah to anoint a Gentile, Hazael king over Aram (i.e. Syria, 1 Kings 19:15)

God’s covenant with Abraham includes:
All the nations   will be blessed    in you.
(Galatians 3: 8,  Genesis 18:18, 22:18, 26:4) 

In the Bible, Jonah is probably the top prophet/evangelist:

— a whole ship of people turned to the Lord,

&  a whole city, Nineveh,  sincerely turned to the Lord, … averting God’s judgment
… in spite of,   or because of    Jonah’s stumbling and reluctance to follow God.

and …
with the shortest sermon of just   7 words, … the city turned to God !

 3:4 After Jonah had entered the city and walked for one day,
he preached to the people, saying,

“After forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed!”

3:5 The people of Nineveh    believed God.

Note, the people’s heart turned to God,
… not to the messenger.

(7 simple words … certainly, no one fell asleep in this sermon)

God is much,  much,  much  bigger than any of our mistakes,
and does the unexpected, the incredible, the impossible
… thru just 7 simple words !

Amazing grace!

God did not give up on Jonah. — the God of second chances.

Simlarly, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and 3000 were added to the church;
Peter who earlier had denied Jesus 3 times.

Jonah got up to run away from the Lord, … from the presence of the Lord
in love, … God’s love ran after him, … and also, the wicked people of Nineveh;
like Hosea pursued his wayward wife.

Which parable of Jesus does Jonah’s story remind us of ?

The parables of the prodigal/lost son, … & the lost sheep,
… the good Samaritan who saved the injured stranger,
parable of the 2 sons, … & the Pharisee and the tax collector,
parable of the unmerciful servant.

The Bible is one story, … His-story.

Jonah’s story raises questions about our attitudes and prejudices :

What’s our thoughts & attitudes towards folks different from us,
with different values,
.. coming from a different nation, culture, .. praying to other gods?

Have some people or people group … been written off from our books?

Rivals ?
Mean-spirited folks ?
do they deserve second chances ?

While drafting this post, was reminded of a memorable message a dear friend heard from a catholic priest, while he was on an overseas business trip,

On judgment day,  when the Lord judges the world, and the books are open,
when the evil, the wicked, the rich, the poor, the immoral, the devout, the pious, etc, etc,
… and the rest of humanity
stand before the Lord God Almighty,

don’t assume that  christians
are invited to sit on the jury.

Indeed, we are in the dock with everyone else,
…. relying solely on God’s grace and mercy, … & the blood of Jesus.


So do not judge before the right time;
wait until the Lord comes.  …

1 Corinthians 4:5 (NCV)

How does God speak?

Lets look at Jonah 1,
God spoke directly to Jonah,
“Get up, … go, … preach …”

When Jonah chose to stop reading the Bible and prayer, .. and fellowship
the Lord spoke to him through:

** the Lord sent a great wind on the sea,
** the captain said, “Get up … pray to your god! ..”,
** the lot fell on Jonah,
** the sailors asked,“What terrible thing did you do?”
** the compassion of the shipmates when they did not immediately throw Jonah overboard,
** the Lord caused a big fish to swallow Jonah,
** the Lord spoke to the fish, and the fish threw up Jonah onto the dry land.

** God preserved Jonah’s life through 2 life threatening situations.

(more examples in Chapter 3 & 4, please read)

All, … in an effort to coax Jonah to  return back to God,
… and walk in His plan,
bringing salvation to Nineveh.

Thus,  God is not silent,
… are we listening ?

God is not absent,
He’s silently, creatively working out His purpose and plan.

And when we can’t see His hand,
— trust His heart.

As we read the book of Jonah, and list down every instance where an action (verb) is linked to God,
we will find that God is intimately involved in the lives of individuals (Jonah), groups (sailors) and nations;
God is not far, far away.
And in Jonah we see, God is actively working in every life to bring us to know Him, and draw close to Him.
2:9 … Salvation comes from the Lord!

Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done

on earth
as it is in heaven.
 Matthew 6:9,10 (HCSB)

God’s will and plan is not just about Jonah alone,
of only Jonah achieving his prophetic call & success in ministry.

God’s will and plan is so, .. so  much,  ..  more bigger .. than we can imagine,

the people on the ship,
the people in Nineveh,
… people around the Mediterranean and Assyria,
and the rest of us who are blessed by   Jonah’s   ‘whale of a tale’ !

(Jonah’s story is one of the most shared children ministry stories in the Bible)

Even Jesus referred to Jonah!

.. the outlandishness of God,
who does impossible things with impossible people ..

— Frederick Buechner

For another humorous ‘God turned the tables’  story in the Bible, head down to Esther,
how God vindicated the unassuming and loyal Mordecai
against the vindictive and narcissistic Haman.


No matter how evil .. like Nineveh, ..
people who don’t know God
how disobedient .. like Jonah, …
who knows God,

God in His love grace and mercy
is reaching out to each of us to turn to Him,
to walk in His way.

God loved the world so much
that he gave his one and only Son
so that
whoever believes in him
may not be lost, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (NCV)

God used reluctant and imperfect Jonah,
with extraordinary outcomes.

 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise,
and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

 29 God did this so that no one can brag in his presence
1 Corinthians 1:27, 29 (NCV)

smart donkeys, obedient fish, sudden wind storms,
disobedient prophets, etc,

these are some of the things and people God uses for His plans and purposes.
God can use anything and anyone for His glory,

Amen, … Praise the Lord!

Thus, its best for us, … to walk humbly before the Lord,
(even prophets 🙂 )

Not long ago, heard the testimony about a man whose life was unexpectedly saved by an unknown dog, from an attacker poised to kill him.   The man is of another faith.
After saving the man’s life, the dog ran off, … and the man followed, … through the streets, … right to a church, … just when the pastor was walking out of the church.  The man inquired about the dog, … but, the pastor had never seen such a dog.  As a result of their chat, the man believed in Jesus,
… and in his own humble words, ... ‘a dog led me to Jesus’
(in this man’s culture,  dogs   were unclean or used in degoratory remarks)

God has a sense of humor.

smart donkeys, obedient fish, sudden wind storms,
disobedient prophets, etc,
across distant lands and seas,

these are some of the interesting and humorous characters & elements in the Bible.
They wondrously paint God’s mercy and grace,
to everyday folks, … and little children to laugh,  marvel and believe in the Lord.

God who lifts us up, … even when we stumble,
and lead us along His path
to bring glory to Him.

The God of the second chance !

21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said,

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned,
and revealed them to little children.

Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
Luke 10:21 (NIV)

Paul wrote:  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and   joy in the Holy Spirit,
Romans 14:17 (NIV)

Jeremiah said,

Your words came to me,
and I listened carefully to them.

    Your words made me very happy,

I am called by your name,

    Lord God All-Powerful.
Jeremiah 15:16 (NCV)

Zephaniah description of the Lord:

16    … Don’t give up.
17 The Lord your God is with you;
    the mighty One will save you.

He will rejoice over you.
    You will rest in his love;
    he will sing and be joyful about you.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NCV)

Jesus said,

11 I have told you these things
so that you can have the same joy I have

and so that your joy
will be the fullest possible joy.
John 15:9-11 (NCV)

Lord, may we see things from your Godly perspective, … the big picture.

May we find joy in reading & listening to your word,
and know what a joyful Savior we follow;
who rejoices over us with joyful songs.
Lord, fill us with the joy in the Holy Spirit,
thank you Lord!
Praise God!

Daily Rice | Effective Teaching

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 25, 2017

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved,
Creative Commons License






This entry was posted on June 25, 2017 by in Daily Rice, Effective Teaching, LOL:-), Ministering Spirit & Truth and tagged .

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