Jonah 1:1, 2
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,…
In these words we have important instruction as to God's messengers.
I. THEIR CONTINUITY. The first word of this book is the Hebrew conjunction "and:" "And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah." Thus begin other books of the Old Testament. How significant! The Divine messages stand not alone; they are connected with those sent before. So with the Divine messengers. Did the word of the Lord come to Abraham, Moses, Elijah? And also to Jonah! He shows poorly in comparison with them, yet he too was in "the goodly fellowship of the prophets." We may have slight gifts and narrow opportunities, still we may be God's messengers and in the line of the greatest of the past. Each humblest Christian worker can say, "To me also is this grace given."
II. THE DIFFICULTIES OF GOD'S MESSENGERS. Jonah had many. This was a novel work to which he was bidden. A great work - one man to warn the millions of Nineveh. A work he could devolve on no other, and in which he was to have no human helper. He had to say a "hard saying." Not a sermon concerning Nineveh - that he could have preached at home; nor to Nineveh; but with fearless cry against it - the city of violence, of manifold vengeance clamouring wickedness. But his great difficulty was within him, in an unwilling mind that soon revealed itself in rebellious life. We too have difficulties as God's messengers. In the way we have to go, the people we have to address, their callous unconcern in the message we have to hear - "warning every man." But our greatest difficulty is within. To be promptly obedient. Not to hesitate, delay, argue against. Oh, to watch against the reluctant will! There is the fontal evil. No audible voice, such as may have come to the prophets, do we need today. The Spirit of Christ is with us, speaking in Scripture-illumined conscience, and in the fresh strong convictions of the soul. Let us hear and promptly heed them, willing to bear or do all to which he calls.
III. THE PRIVILEGE OF GOD'S MESSENGERS. With all his faults Jonah is clothed with honour. He carried God's messages to men; he was "Jonah the prophet." We too may bear his messages, and by every right word and true deed are doing it. How privileged thus are we! Then let us "arise, go." Let nothing hinder, remembering whose servants we are. "Arise, go" to cottage, school class, bed of the afflicted, to warn, entreat - in all bearing God's messages; to business, to do it as in Christ's very presence; to scenes of rest, by purity and cheerfulness to witness for God the All-holy, the All-happy One; to trials, temptations, to be in Christ's strength stronger than all of them. "Arise, go to" all the work given you to do, and go to finish it: to sorrows, that through them you may reach the realms of rest; to death, through it to arrive at the land of life; through all to him our Master and Lord. "Where he is there we shall be also." - G.T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,