“...GOD! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen!....Ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!" -- Jonah 4:1-2 MSG
Although I've read Jonah multiple times, it's interesting how the Holy Spirit will point out new things, depending on where you are in your Christian walk. As we watch those around us saved & unsaved, go on living immorally, we tend to wonder if God will ever laid hold of them, maybe even imagining how he will do it when he does.....
1) Making evil plots against God (Nahum 1:9-11)
2) Murders, lies, deceit, and robberies (Nahum 3:1)
3) Cruelty at war (Nahum 3:2-3)
4) Idolatry, prostitution, and witchcraft (Nahum 3:4-5)
5) They oppressed many people & nations (Nahum 3:19)
Nineveh used it's beauty, prestige, and power to seduce other nations, enticing them into false alliances, waiting until their guard was down to plunder and destroy them. They took other nations' riches and food to maintain their lavish lifestyles (Nahum 2:9-10)
-- God sends a violent storm on the sea in this boat's path
-- The sailors confront Jonah & cry out for God to spare their lives
-- Jonah gets thrown overboard, the storm calms & the sailors fear God
-- God sends a great fish to swallow Jonah where he stays 3 days & 3 nights in its belly
-- Jonah prays to God & God commands the fish to vomit up Jonah
-- Jonah is re-commissioned to go to Nineveh and do what God had originally sent him to do - preach that they would receive judgment if they did not repent
But isn't this still often the condition of some of us the church? We want to believe that we don't operate this way because we are "saved, sanctified & filled with the Holy Ghost", but the truth is that we do. We see people around us, maybe backsliders or the unsaved continuing to go on in wickedness, and God sends US to minister or be "salt & light" in their midst, hoping that they will repent and begin to walk with the Lord. They respond to the gospel we preach, and God removes his hand of anger from them, and then we get mad at God for his mercy on them!
Going back to the first 3 verses of Jonah chapter 4, Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at GOD, “GOD! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! So, GOD, if you won’t kill them, kill me!
I’m better off dead!”
“What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?”
Jonah said, “Plenty of right. It’s made me angry enough to die!”
God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”
Questions to ponder:
--What is your CURRENT attitude towards those who are especially wicked? Like Jonah, are you banking on their destruction & humiliation, or genuinely praying that they will experience the grace, forgiveness & mercy of God?
--Is it possible you are taking Jonah's narrow-minded viewpoint, based on personal hurt, offense, hatred, rejection, etc..?
--How would you feel if God had never shown mercy towards you?
It's so easy to be more sensitive to our own interests, than towards the spiritual needs of the people around us? Let your answers to these questions guide you in your own prayer, repentance & thanksgiving with the Lord today. I was truly grateful for this reflection and I pray you all were as well. Let me know your thoughts below...
Until next time, may Christ rule your hearts with love,