A you familiar with the story of Jonah? Jonah is a short book (four chapters) in the Old Testament in the Bible. It tells the story of Jonah in the days when Nineveh was a scourge upon the earth. Nineveh was the capitol city of Assyria, and they weren’t treating the Jews rightly.
Jonah was a prophet of God, and he was pretty used to hearing His voice. One day, however, God spoke to him to give him a message that he didn’t want to hear. God wanted Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to tell the people to repent. God wanted them to repent so He could forgive them.
Jonah hated the Assyrians and despised the people of Nineveh. He couldn’t believe God would even consider forgiving a people so evil as they. Jonah was upset. He was willing to give God’s messages to the people of Israel, but he wanted nothing to do with these Ninevites.
He decided that what God had asked of him was too much. He would go just so far for God but no further.
So Jonah ran. He got in a ship sailing for Tarshish in the opposite direction from Nineveh. He figured he could run from God, but God is omniscient and omni-present, so it wasn’t a successful venture.
Out on the sea God caused a violent storm to come upon the ship. The sailors tried to figure out who was responsible for this unnatural storm, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Jonah confessed to his running from God and told them that in order to stop the storm they had to throw him overboard. Jonah knew that being thrown overboard into the ocean would mean certain death for him.
The sailors reluctantly agreed and threw him overboard. Immediately the sea calmed down. As Jonah sank deep into the sea a giant fish swallowed him. Jonah knew he had messed up royally. God had shown him the way to go, and he had not been willing. So, in the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed.
After three days God caused the fish to spit Jonah out on the shore. Then, God called Jonah once again to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah went, although he was still wishing for the demise of his enemies.
When he spoke the word of The Lord to the Ninevites they repented and prayed to God clothed in sackcloth and sitting on ashes (signs of genuine remorse). Jonah went up on a hill outside of town to watch God smite them, but He forgave them instead. Jonah became furious.
Jonah couldn’t see how the forgiveness of God is greater than our understanding. He couldn’t see the plans of God. He was filled with hatred and vengeance toward these people.
Did Jonah ever come around? Read the book and find out.
Lets look at ourselves in the meantime. There have been many times I’ve heard people say that they know God wants them to do this or that, but…
When we know what God’s will for us is, and we reject that will, then He is no longer the King of our lives. We have dethroned God and placed ourselves on that throne. We are very much like Jonah.
The may be decisions you are called to make in life. Will you make them? There are moral choices you are called to make. Will you make them?
We live in an age where the people in most churches live lives very similar to that of the world. When confronted with a direct command from scripture, it is not uncommon for them to say “yes, I know, but…” Is that what God wants of us? No!
The Hebrew writer tells us that if we know the good we should do, and we don’t do it, we sin. Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are to quit sinning on purpose expecting grace to cover us. Does grace cover us? Yes! But should we abuse that privilege? No!
You are called to live a life like Christ. When faced with the hardest time of his life – the crucifixion – he didn’t tell God he wasn’t willing to go through it. He loves you too much to go against God’s will for him, though we know he really struggled with the pain that was to come.
Look at your life. Find the areas where your life doesn’t match up with the life God has called you to live. Pray to God for help in changing direction. And find people you can surround yourself with that will help you along the way. You don’t have to live like the world. Your witness will be much more effective when you make this change.
May you stop giving God ultimatums. May you follow Him with wild abandon. And may the world watch as you live in joy and peace from knowing God’s love and grace all the more.
If there’s anything I can do for you, or if you would like to comment on this article, then please feel free to shoot me a message at http://www.mrdobbs.org. Blessings to you as you follow Him.