I jonah the darkness, p.1
I Jonah, The Darkness, page 1
I Jonah, The Darkness
Copyright 2013 Donald Hatfield
How did it feel to be Jonah? Come with me and let’s try to place ourselves in his position. Let’s tried to feel what he might have felt. What I found out about myself surprised me. You might be surprised at some of the things you find out about yourself. This is a fictional account of the book of Jonah.
The Path to Darkness
May I tell you my story? May I tell you that God your Creator is real and hears and knows everything we do and everything we think? May I tell you of His goodness and grace to us? My name is Jonah and I am one of Gods prophets. Because of my unwillingness to listen to my Father He took me on an incredible journey. Actually, what I am writing to you closely follows what I have already written but it’s been many years since these things happened and I would just like to shed a little more light on the way I felt and responded to my Lord’s command. So I will follow very closely the words that I have previously written. I will add nothing to the facts for they stand true but will only add my feelings and thoughts at the time as I saw it. So if you desire, follow along as I try to remember my feelings and thoughts as I again recollect the words that I have previously written. I will put a number at the beginning of each thought or happening so that you will know where I was in my life at that time.
1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
1a.I thought that I was finished with my prayers. I had thanked the Lord for His blessings in Creation. I had also thanked Him for His grace in the sacrifices. I was ready to get up for I had prayed about going to the Temple and preaching to those who had gathered there. I started to get up when the Word of Lord came to me.
2 Arise go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.
2a. You might ask me how I knew it was God. You just know that’s how. Is it an audible voice, perhaps in your mind you think it is. However, it goes much deeper than that it goes into your spirit. So, again how can you know? You just know. I could not believe what He said to my spirit. Arise Jonah, get up and go to Nineveh, let me stop here and ask you if you know about Nineveh. Nineveh is the capital city of Assyria. It is located on the Tigris River. It is a very large city and a city of terror for me. Why? They are an idolatrous people worshipping gods such as Ishtar the goddess of prostitutes. She is also thought to be the queen of the underworld. Their Kings hated us and persecuted us, leaving our corpses lying in the streets. Yes, Nineveh was a city of terror to me. God said to go cry against it because their wickedness had come up before Him. Their wickedness had ascended up to His face. Why me? This could not be true and yet I knew it to be. I spoke to Him and said, “Lord I have spoken your word, I have followed you, surely you cannot ask me to go against my own soul. You are asking me to crucify myself. You are asking me to possibly give my life for this wicked, wicked people. He spoke not again. He was quiet. He left me alone with my thoughts and feelings. I struggled and then I decided. I will not! I cannot! You are probably thinking that I should have said something like, not my will but your will Lord. Easy to say from the perches we set on looking down on our fellow believers. This could mean certain death for me. These people were wicked, violent, with no conscience or mercy towards their fellow man. I do not know of any man who willingly will go to his death for these kinds of men. Do you?
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
3a. So I ran! I thought, I will flee from His sight. I will fly away from His presence. I knew what He said, but I will not obey, I will leave Him behind and face the future without Him. I will go to Tarshish. Why Tarshish? Because in my mind at the time that is about as far away as I could get. How did I feel? I was controlled completely by a feeling of disbelief. How could He dare to ask this of me? Over and over I rolled it around in my mind trying to explain it away but His word stayed in my spirit. Preach to the people of Nineveh. No, it was worse than that, preach to the wicked people of Nineveh whom you despise. Again I found myself saying I will not! I finally raised my eyes and I was in the city of Joppa. Did you know that Joppa means beautiful city? Did you know that King Solomon used it as a sea port for so many years of His reign? Did you know it was the city where we laughed and praised God, the Highest God? Yet I stood there looking out into the harbor, out into the sea, searching for a ship to take my away from the one who had asked too much of me. I pitied myself, then I cried and then I paid the fare. Then I went down into the bows of the ship to hide from His presence. There amongst the cargo, there amongst the rats, spiders and roaches I hid from my Lord. I know what you are thinking. If you were here you would say, “Jonah, don’t you know that you cannot hide from God?” My reply to you my dear friend would be, then why have you?” When have I hide from God you might respond. When? When you hid your sins within the cargo of your conscience, when you walked among the rats lying to make others think that you were something you were not. When? When you tried to hide the spiders of envy in your soul. When? When the jealous roaches crawled around in your darkness. Yes, we all have run from God and I pray that you are not running and hiding now.
4 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.
4a. If you are running or hiding, beware for there is a wind arising, for God, the existing one is preparing a mighty and loud wind out there on your sea of circumstance. If you keep hiding it will turn into a tempest, a whirlwind and your ship of life will be crippled, maimed and broken. Then you will remember what your thoughts were towards me, “Jonah, don’t you know that you cannot hide from God? They will return unto you. So let me continue my recollection of those fateful days when I, Jonah ran from God.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah had gone down into the lower part of the ship; and he had lain down, and was fast asleep.
5a. I was so exhausted from running that I fell asleep down in that dark hole. Although to this day I am not sure if I fell asleep or passed out. I do know of the great pain that I caused others because of my own failures. To this day I wonder why I could not see that. I should have known that God who is my Father would not let his child go. His love cost too much just to let His wayward children do as they please. While I lay sleeping the tempest came into others’ lives because of me. The storm was so great above me that the ship was likely to be broken in two if those above did not do something. They began to pray to gods that could not answer and cry to statues that had no life. When no answer came they decided to lighten the load and began to throw the cargo over board. They finally reached the lowest bowels of the ship and found me there sleeping. I was sleeping while they who had done nothing frantically searched for a way out of their impending doom.
6 So the captain came to him, and said unto him, what mean you, O sleeper? Arise, call upon your God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not
6a. It shames me to say but I was so far from my Master in spirit that the shipmaster had to shake me awake. After waking me he said why are you sleeping? Do you not know that we are going to perish? As he said that a vision of the people of Nineveh flashed on my mind. I could see them sinking and drowning in a sea of sin while at the same time hands of flames were reaching out to grab them. I quickly put the thought out of my mind. He then said something that cuts me t
7 And they said everyone to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah
7a. Because of my refusal the God of grace had to put me to further shame. I now know that it was He who suggested to the shipmaster that they draw lots to find out who or what was the cause of this looming death sentence. You say God does not speak to unbelievers. I beg to differ for God speaks to who He wants, where He wants and when He wants. So there in the pouring rain and driving wind they drew lots and the finger of God pointed to me. Be careful my fellow believer. Even when we try to deceive by being quiet the God who sees all can expose our sin in front of the world. Yes, they were looking at each other for the cause of their fear while God was pointing at me. Remember our great King David and his sin with Bathsheba. How he tried to hide it. Because of his refusal Nathan turned to him and said you are the man. Whether it be by lots that are cast, prophets that speak or birds that carry your deceits on their wings God can expose your sin.
8 Then said they unto him, tell us, we pray you, for whose cause this evil is upon us; what is your occupation? And from where come you? What is your country? And of what people are you?
8a. Then they all turned at once and looked at me. They looked at me with eyes full of amazement. How could you do this? Tell us of your crime and what have you done. They must have been wondering what kind of terrible things he must be involved in. Should I tell them that I was a spokesman for God? They must have been asking themselves what kind of country does he live in that would bring this kind of horror upon us. Should I tell them that I came from a country where we claim to know the God of Creation? Finally their eyes accused me and said what people do you associate with that would make your God so angry as to punish us along with you. Should I tell them that I walk with those who go to the Temple every Sabbath? Oh, my friend, the sorrow that can come when one disobeys God. The consequences of our rebellion can last a lifetime.
9 And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.
9a. Then they formed a circle around me and I had to answer. I am a Hebrew. And I fear the Lord, the Existing One, the God, the ruler of heaven, the maker of the sea and the creator of dry land. I stood there in my guilt knowing that I had caused this. I had often condemned Adam and Eve while proudly saying to myself I would have never taken of the forbidden fruit. I would never have disobeyed God like they did. And here, I Jonah, stood in front of my accusers telling them that I reverence the Lord and yet he was bringing this punishment upon them. So, I told them the truth. I was running from the God who could not be run away from. What a fool I looked like to them. What a fool I looked like to myself. What a pitiful, miserable child I must have looked like to my God.
10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, why have you done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
10a. Needless to say they were astounded. Needless to say they asked me, “Why have you done this?” Needless to say I had no answer that would have satisfied anyone. Needless to say some grew angry, some cried and some sat down in utter disbelief. Needless to say one finally looked at me and asked me the question that I knew must be ask.
11 Then said they unto him, what shall we do unto you, that the sea may be calm for us? For the sea raged, and was tempestuous.
11a. What shall we do with thee? What can we offer to your God that the sea may be calm and this growing enraged storm may be quenched? They looked at me with imploring eyes that had reached the stage of desperation. Yes, then they asked the man of God what should they do? At that moment the so called man of God knew the answer. Maybe he always knew the answer because for a man who turns his back on the graciousness of God there is only one answer. The answer is death in the darkness that never ends. Death in the bottomless sea where there is no place to plant your feet or bend your knees to your Creator. Do not go that far my brother, never go that far where you cannot pray on bended knees to the God who hears and knows of your foolishness. Many have done so before and perished like our King Saul. Many will do so again. Do not be one of them.
12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm for you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
12a. I knew the answer before they even ask. I knew what my rebellion and refusal to obey my Lord meant. It meant death. To save them I must die for they were not responsible. I had decided that I had caused enough pain. I would take my chances with the mercy of my redeemer. You say how noble, I say how cowardly, for if my sin had not found me out I would still be running. I believed that my journey was over and I had lost all chance. The one thread I clung to was the fact that He was still my Father. Though I had disgraced Him, He would still take me home to be with Him. I knew that He would find someone else to go to Nineveh and preached the gospel of repentance. With a voice filled with anguish I looked at those men and said throw me overboard and the sea will become calm again. Now having no other choice, I would have to sacrifice for these men what I refused to sacrifice for my God. My Life! Choose now! For as believers we will either leave the world in disgrace or leave the world in honor.
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea raged, and was tempestuous against them.
13a. Then they did the unthinkable instead of throwing me overboard they rowed even harder for the shore. It seemed with each stroke of their oars the sea only became more violent. I just stood there in my shame. I watched as men who were much nobler than I gave all they had for one who gave so little thought to them. Often my fellow believer those of the world have more mercy than we of the Kingdom. We take those who have made serious mistakes, those who have fallen, those who have failed and simply row away from them. We leave them in the sea of misery, dejection and despair. May God open our eyes to the shallowness of our sea of compassion?
14 Therefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, we beseech you, O LORD, we beseech you, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.
14a. When all was lost they cried unto God, they beseeched Him. Oh now, O Lord they cried let us not perish for this man’s life. Again like a flash the people of Nineveh came across my mind. These men would do anything to not let one perish because of them while I would do nothing for those perishing in Nineveh. Then they again beseeched God, Oh now, O Lord let not this man’s blood be on our hands. As they cried out I looked down at my hands which had been clinging to a rough rope. I had been clinging to the rope so hard that my hands had begun to bleed. I could see the blood of the people of Nineveh upon my own hands. Is there anyone’s blood on yours? If so go before it is too late and tell them of God forgiveness and see if they will confess and repent. Do not let yourself be brought to the plank of the boat in the middle of the tempestuous sea before you see your hands beginning to bleed.
15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from its raging
15a. And so they bore me upon their arms and took me to the side of the boat and cast me into the sea. As soon as I hit the water the rain stopped and the winds ceased. The sea became as glass and yet I was sinking down a
16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
16a. I must tell you of some good that I learned of later. Once while on a journey I ran into a man who said he recognized me for he was one of the sailors on that ship. He said when the sea calmed the men stood in awe of my God and my God became their God. They offered sacrifices to Him and made vows of repentance and confession. He had now been following the God who owns all, the self-existing God for years and thanked me for being there. I walked away from him that day in a state of humble, shameful humiliation as I thought that even while in my sin the God of grace used my rebellion to save other men. I could only walk a few steps away from the sailor before I fell to my knees and wept for hours. Let me get back to my narrative for what happened next could have only been done by God.
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
17a. I could no longer hold my breath and had to let it go. I could feel my life slipping away from me, slipping into the dark murky sea and then the next thing I knew, I was alive. I was alive in the darkness. I could hear breath and feel movement. I felt with my hands and everything seemed slimy and cold. I was shivering and my feet were in about six inches of water. Some weeks later I figured out that I spent three days in that darkness for some they will spend eternity in the darkness. They will be alive in their darkness. Someone once told me that the number three stood for resurrection. If that is true then I can attest to that fact for I prayed to the God of heaven for three solid days and here is what happened during that time.
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