Jonah lived under King Jeroboam II in the Northern Kingdom, whose regime was rebellious. Jonah had a rebellious streak and might have been influenced by his culture. Nineveh was an intimidating place to go. This Assyrian capital was the largest city in the world at the time (estimated population of 1.5 million), and its people were ruthlessly violent. They flayed people alive and kept stacks of their victims’ skulls. They were well-known for their brutalities and idolatries.
Jonah was either hardened to the possibility of a favorable response by Nineveh or calloused to their dangerous position before God. He ran from his destiny, delaying revival by placing his own plan ahead of God’s divine script. You can’t advance the Kingdom with people who are in retreat!
You can’t advance the Kingdom with people who are in retreat!
Jonah left his assignment and boated in the opposite direction to Tarshish. When a storm came to bring everything down, the heathen sailors began to cry out to their pagan gods. Everybody was in “prayer mode” but Jonah”
But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god….But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish” (John 1:4-6).
We must have passion greater for our God than the world’s passion for their idols. I’ve had this thought:
Eliminate the sleeper and you will eliminate the storm.
That storm wasn’t there because of wicked sailors; it was because a rebellious prophet was sleeping on his divine assignment of a city takeover.
Sometimes it takes storms in life to awaken God’s people to the reality that eternity is at stake. These modern storms include natural disasters, violence, war, terrorism, child abuse, family breakdowns, suicide, and chemical addictions. We can choose to pretend that we are asleep, lower the trajectory of our faith, and dock in a watered-down version of Christianity. Or we can wake up.
Runaway revivalists jeopardize more than those in their boat. There’s the potential of missing being at the forefront of a move by ignoring God’s voice. We must say yes to the reviving presence of the Lord and understand the power of light we are packing. D.L. Moody heard the words of the British revivalist, Henry Varley, who said,
The world has yet to see what God will do with a person who is fully consecrated to Him!
D.L. Moody’s response was,
I will do my utmost to be that person.
God is waking His people up in time for them to strategically place themselves as solution-centers who are able to expose the nakedness of false beliefs.
As Jonah was napping, the “unsaved” sailors rebuked him for sleeping and not calling on his God. Jonah must have felt “fingered,” because they sensed he knew the cause of the trouble. Often, God comes in His mercy and pulls the blankets off rebellious revivalists on the run. Maybe the world’s frustration with us is that we aren’t preoccupied with what is supposed to be our preoccupation. The luxury of catching Zs instead of catching the wave of God’s Spirit will no longer be afforded us. The storm has gotten too bad, and the world has become to anguished. God won’t let you doze on your destiny and will even use the world to wake you up.
The above is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Sean Smith’s I Am Your Sign, “Jonah Speaks Sign Language.” To learn more about evangelism, Sean’s book is available on his website, Amazon.com, BN.com, Christianbook.com, and Booksamillion.com.