Thursday, December 1, 2016
TheStoryOfJonah : Consequences of Rebellion 1:4-17
As I eluded to earlier, in this story of Jonah, we can learn much about our own failings and misgivings by reading through this Story honestly. These lessons aren't the type of things we would see on a flannel graph in Sunday School...but the lessons are there if we choose to see them. One of the more difficult lessons we can learn in this text today is that there are consequences to our rebellion.
I would love to tell you that Jonah's life was fine once he decided not to follow the LORD - but it simply wasn't. I would love to tell you, for prideful and/or sinful reasons, that in our pursuit of things that aren't from the LORD, we can really experience more life and fullness - but we can't. I say I would love to tell you this because then I can be justifying my (and your) sin. Turning away from the LORD always has consequences; to believe otherwise is the lie that the world (more specifically satan) would just love for us to believe. But the problem that is very clear in this text is that most often we don't care about these consequences as we are too far gone to care about others or even ourselves. But the consequences clearly hit the hardest to those that are closest to us.
When we are in the depths of sin, as we see Jonah is in the hold of the ship, we simply do not care. A very simple definition of sin is an act that we do because we only care about ourselves. It is so very clear that Jonah has become so infatuated with running away from God and so selfishly absorbed, that he no longer sees the world clearly nor cares about the people in it (seen by his 'peaceful' sleep while the storm rages). This is a concept that I'm just beginning to understand, but the fact remains, when we are seeped in sin, everything that is reality becomes blurred. We think differently, we have different perspectives, and most often are too self-absorbed to care about those around us. This is the essence of Jonah's life right now. He has people around him who are literally suffering because of his decision to run from the LORD, but he simply does not care.
There are consequences of rebellion and really the only out is to confess and reap the consequences. But please note that we can't view this confession of Jonah's as a 'holy confession' as it was almost as if he was forced into it. It seems he would have been completely content to stay below and wake up the next morning with nothing but a board underneath him, keeping him afloat and the sky above him, surrounded by the wreckage of the ship from the storm that completely destroyed the boat and the lives of the people that were on it (if he were to survive). He just didn't care. And this is magnified by his desire to commit suicide. We can't view this as a true 'self-sacrifice' for others because, note, that he didn't willingly want to throw himself overboard - he still desired to be free from his own doings and demand his suffers to do 'the dirty deed' instead of willingly jumping overboard out of his own volition. And yet the careless attitude that he creates for himself even spans to his own livelihood. He would rather kill himself than to face the reality that he had run away from God.
It's so incredible to me how selfish sin makes us. It clearly distances us from our loved ones and creates such a sense of loss. But for some strange reason, we still long to revel there. We just do not understand nor want to embrace the reality of our own sin. Jonah isn't being courageous, he's being stupid and still longing to drag others down with him. He gave these men the responsibility of throwing him over so they now would have a sin hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives of killing him. Sin does this. Sin loves company. And sinners drag people down and tempt people to sin themselves. By Jonah's actions, he is desiring his companions to have guilt on their heads and be rebellious for their own gains. They did this, in Jonah's mind, for their own selfish gain and he was pleased with the result.
What's very surprising to me in this text is that Jonah never finds these men again (at least it isn't written in the text that he does). I could imagine after all is said and done, he crosses paths with these men again and has to deal with the on-going consequences of his actions. As we will discover, there is a sense of guilt and remorse that Jonah experiences, but we do not get the 'after story'. Note, though, that due to Jonah's actions, they acknowledge, at least, the power of the LORD: We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased (vs. 14). Perhaps, later on, they truly put their trust in the LORD - we don't know. But Jonah could have used this as yet again an opportunity to honour the LORD and be forthcoming in his confession, and bring people closer to acknowledging their own sin and need of a Saviour. But he does not see this opportunity and literally leaves a wave behind him that is very harmful and forces these men to now have sin in their own hearts that they may or may not surrender to the LORD. Jonah wasn't exactly the best example here of genuine confession.
So we read Jonah is thrown into the sea and the the sea becomes calm. The lesson, for the men at least, is done. Not unlike the story of Peter and Jesus on the waves (Matt.14:28-33) the lesson is complete and storm subsides.
But just like in Peter's story, Jonah's story is just beginning...