Skip to main content

What if... Jonah

READ Jonah 1-4

What if Jonah had gone to Nineveh the first time God told him to go? Would it change the account in some way to see Jonah fully obey God in the first place? Would it change our opinions of Jonah (or even of God for that matter) concerning the Ninevites had he simply replied with "Your will be done"? As you read the story recorded in the book that bears his name, you find a character in Jonah who appears to be selfish, self-centered, bitter for reasons we do not know from just a reading of his account, and quite obviously stubborn. However, as God informs him of his assignment, we see an anger in Jonah that results in blatant disobedience. (v.3 "But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.") In taking that first step in the opposite direction of the Lord's assignment, Jonah sets out on a course that can be described as frightening, disturbing, sad, but also educational, surprising, and even spiritual. So, again, I ask, what if Jonah had simply said yes to the request of the Lord? Would we still be able to glean from his story the lesson of ignoring the path God has laid out in front of us, the lesson of forgiveness being for all, or even the lesson of saying yes to the Lord when we cannot see the purpose immediately? I believe that the story of Jonah unlocks within us the human side of the Scriptures... too many times we read stories/accounts and think that the only reason x happened was because this person was given supernatural faith... In Jonah, we find ourselves - people who try to argue with God on what is best, people who run from the assignments we have been given, and sadder even still, people who would rather be miserable (in the belly of a big fish) than just admit we were trying to outlast God.

What if Jonah had chosen death over going to Nineveh? What if Jonah had simply refused to the point that he died in the belly of that great fish? Would the story have been recorded or would it be a legend kept alive in the Hebrew culture? As you read this account, what you find is that even after Jonah realizes that God is truly in control of it all and that he should bow down before the great I Am and beg for his very existence, Jonah is still angry about going to the Ninevite people to proclaim their need for repentance! There is a bitterness in his abbreviated message and chapter 4 begins with Jonah calling the forgiveness of the Ninevites "exceedingly evil". Jonah is so furious with God that he tells God multiple times in the final chapter of this account that it would be better for him [Jonah] to die than to live. This much bitterness and rage cannot be tolerated by a God of love, kindness, forgiveness, grace, and mercy, so God puts forth a plant to keep Jonah from expiring in the desert and then teaches Jonah a lesson that you and I must never forget... God explains to Jonah that his actions are absolutely revolting... Jonah would fight with God concerning the health of a plant that God provided, yet he would vote for God to wipe out men, women, and children made in HIS image with the snap of a finger! Had Jonah chosen death over preaching to those he did not like, sadly, he would not be so different from many who have walked the earth and who walk the earth now... those who with their mouth claim to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, but with their actions (and even their words sometimes) they show disdain and hatred for their fellow human. Jonah is us...

Jonah is us because we want to tell God how to run things and we want to tell God who to save and who not to save. Jonah is us because we catch an attitude when we see through God's word that forgiveness is intended for all mankind, yet we want to pick and choose those we like to get in with us. Jonah is us because when we see someone come home to their spiritual family, we have the audacity to get angry with God for welcoming them home and we take the "older brother" stance from Luke 15 as if we have any room to demand things from God, our Father. I encourage each of us to read Jonah, find ourselves there, repent of those thoughts and feelings, and hold our head up high because we serve an amazing Creator who will always do right.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Simple Faith

Read Psalm 46 today... multiple times...

In this psalm, God is described in a couple of different ways: 1) A fortress or a protector and 2) A ruler... Too many times in my own personal life I have tried to move God out of the decision making role in my life because I believe that I have a better idea or a better grasp on the things that are happening. The thing is, what almost always happens is that I look back and see wreckage that could have been avoided had I simply followed what I knew to be God's will for my life. The reason I feel that way? Because we serve a God who has promised to protect us and defend us against the wiles or plans of the evil one... The one caveat being that we must follow His rule without question. Here in this psalm we see this played out as God is declared to be our fortress and our helper, but in the end of the psalm (v.10), the reader is reminded by God Himself to be still and know that He is God. Why trust an unknown future to a shaky decision maker?…

Simple Silence

Silence… It can be the most uncomfortable of moments and yet can provide you with the greatest opportunity for growth
Silence… It can create the most awkward of situations and yet can provide you with the truest sense of peace you will ever know
Silence… It can destroy a relationship and yet can open the door for God to heal the brokenness
Silence… It can give a sense of rejection and yet can also create a sense of belonging
Habakkuk 2:18-20 “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.”
Silence… before the Lord Almighty… Silence… in honor of His power and might… Silence in awe of His glory…
But what do we do when we feel that our pra…

Simple Peace

"God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing." - C.S. Lewis

In studying the peace of Christ more fully and closely over the past weekend, it has come to my attention in a earth-shattering way that I have no idea what it means to be completely at peace. For far too long, peace was nothing more than a word I tossed around while teaching or preaching to those who I felt did not understand it. However, what I have come to realize is that the one who was tossing that word around did not have the slightest grip on what peace actually entails.

READ Philippians 4:4-9

Over the weekend, Dan Winkler lead a study on the "Peace of Christ" found in the book of Philippians. Our study centered on Philippians 4:4-9 and he put in front of our eyes five commands given by God if we claim we desire His peace:

1) Rejoice
2) Be Known For Gentleness
3) Don't Worry About Anything
4) Let Your Requests Be Made Known To God
5) Meditate…