December 17th, 2019

 

Jonah 1-4

 

As I read the Bible, I’ve always found Jonah to be an interesting character study. Often this book is read in a negative lens with a lot of guilt and weight being placed on Jonah. We read through the story and think “how on earth could he have missed what God was trying to accomplish?” But I have found the more I read through Jonah, the more I see myself as the character of the story. Maybe you do too. Let’s look at a couple of significant portions of each chapter and pray that God would use the book of Jonah to reveal somethings about ourselves that maybe we didn’t realize.

1. Jonah knew better than to run.

Think about it for a minute. Jonah was a prophet of the Lord. He had a divine calling on his life to serve the Lord and proclaim His (God’s) word. He would have known the scriptures and the law well, he would have known the stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness. He would have known how God has taken care of His people and even some of how God pursued certain people to get their attention. Yet, he makes a decision to flee the call of God (v. 1.3a), makes a financial investment into his sin (v.1.3b), and then rests comfortably (v.1.5) We do this too sometimes don’t we? God calls us to follow his instruction or perhaps lays a specific calling on us, and we run from it giving any excuse we can come up with as to why. “I’m out of town that weekend” or “I can’t give anymore because bills are due” or “It’s weird to talk to people about Jesus”. And really we’re no different than Jonah is. Some of us are pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, leaders in our church, ministry coordinators, etc. We’ve got years of experience and have heard sermons, or read books. We have God’s word and know what it says. Gosh we even have the story of Jonah as an example and we still do this. We’re more similar to Jonah than we realize.

2. Jonahs Repentance wasn’t genuine.

If you look at the the wording carefully in Jonahs prayer in chapter two, Jonah focuses a lot on himself and his circumstance. He attributes the Lords work in all of these things happening to him, but it’s almost done in a “why me Lord” tone of voice. “Oh poor me” is his attitude. He never once confessed his disobedience to God’s call and never once did he ask for God’s forgiveness to his disobedience. But he’s also focused on his circumstance. He can’t see past what is happening to him right now. If you compare Jonahs prayer to other prayers in the Old Testament (Psalm 51, Psalm 34, 2 Chronicles 6) you’ll see a very different tone in those prayers. Jonah here still doesn’t get it, but uses prayer as a way to gain pity and sympathy for his current troubles and circumstance.

3. God uses Jonah in spite of Jonah for His Kingdom.

Jonah still didn’t want to go to Nineveh, but he wanted to get out of the belly of the whale even more. So God calls him again to go, and Jonah being a smart man and not wanting to be punished again does what God asks. Even though Jonah’s heart wasn’t in the right place, Jonah was still the instrument God used to change peoples lives. This should be encouraging to us! In spite of how we feel about things, God has called us to obedience. We may not like, we may not want to do it, but our obedience is what matters. And even if we have the wrong attitude, God can still move. I promise you Jonah said nothing that was inspiring or moving or touching. In fact his message was pretty depressing – “you’ve got 40 day’s left”. Not exactly a message that moves the heart. Yet it was God who moved the hearts of the people and they confessed, repented and believed. So we’re really not capable of doing anything special. In fact, we can’t do anything to save people. But we’re called to go, even when we don’t want to and God does the rest.

4. God pursues Jonah even in sin

Jonah still doesn’t get it. He laments the Lords salvation of Nineveh and then wants to die because he loses a shady spot. All this time, what the Lord is trying to teach Jonah is that he longs for a relationship with him. And not only him (Jonah) but all of mankind, including the people of Nineveh (v.4.11). Jonah here sins a great deal, several times, and yet the Lord still pursues him. That should be a great comfort to us that even in the midst of our sin and our disobedience, the Lord is patient with us and still pursues us. 3 times the Lord “appoints” a significant event to happen in Jonahs life and 3 times Jonah completely gets it wrong. Even still the Lord doesn’t abandon Jonah. The Lord may appoint things in your life to get your attention because He wants to teach you something. I heard a great quote from Dr. Eric Mason that said, “God appoints stuff, to bring out of you stuff. Not for you to talk about the stuff you’re in.” Sometimes it takes a while for the “stuff” to be brought out of us, and sometimes, Like Jonah we miss it altogether. But Praise God He is patient with us and doesn’t leave us.

In Christ,

Rev. Sam Killman


One Response to “December 17th, 2019”

  1. Crystal Fraze says:

    So Thankful for The Grace and Mercy that The Lord gives us everyday. The Lord Blesses us in spite of our ownselves.

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