If Jonah was real, is there anything we can learn from him, and actually apply to our lives in the twenty-first century? Can we be encouraged by the life of someone who lived so long ago? Since, in scripture, eight is the number meaning to make fat or bountiful, could there be eight encouragements from GOD given by the example of Jonah in scripture that would make our lives more abundant? Maybe so. lets investigate!
First, GOD doesn't always pick the nice men and the nice women. Jonah was far from perfect. But GOD's way is to choose and to use flawed human material, changing them as He uses and remakes them.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
Second, GOD forgives when we blow it. Jonah was not successful the first time. GOD gives all the privilege of serving Him, despite all our deficiencies. Even if you blow it in the attempt, He is there to forgive you . He promised us that!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Third, GOD's grace is available for everyone. Jonah did not want the people of Nineveh to repent and come under GOD's favor. He was a Jewish patriot who was focused on his own people, not a horde of Assyrians, who were some of the most ruthless people on the face of the earth, at the time. But he could not deny GOD's love and care for them.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Titus 2:11
Fourth, GOD likes honest prayers. Jonah told GOD exactly how he felt.proud, bitter, and angry. We are invited to speak to GOD from where we are, with or without, poor attitudes, lack of hope, or not loving others.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Fifth, you cannot get away from GOD. GOD said to Jonah, go to Nineveh. Jonah went the other way . physically and spiritually. He thought he could run away from the Lord's presence. God not only followed Jonah, but also created a situation where Jonah needed His help.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Sixth, GOD shows mercy over and over again. GOD showed mercy to the pagan crew on the ship, as well as to the people of Nineveh - in spite of their disbelief and disobedience. He loves the whole world.
Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalms 106:1
Seventh, we are to love our enemies as well as your friends. Jonah was a reluctant prophet and had a healthy hatred for the people of Nineveh. Eventually he learned compassion towards them. GOD is supremely glorified when you are merciful to enemies and wrongdoers, and desire and seek their welfare.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44
Eighth, GOD restores sinners. GOD gave Jonah a second chance. After rescuing him from the belly of the fish, GOD gave Jonah a second chance to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed. GOD restored Jonah to ministry and gave him success. GOD wants to give you a second chance.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Jonah had a fish for dinner, but Jonah was the meal! That great fish was in a sense a "fisher of men". Was Jesus thinking of Jonah, his life, his trails, his reluctance and finally his obedience when he said these words to Simon and Andrew?
And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. Mark 1:17
Maybe He was.