Sunday, July 2, 2017

TheStoryOfJonah: The Marvel of an Unhappy Servant 4:5-10

Jonah had every reason to be happy. He had been rescued from the inside of a great fish, given a second-chance to share the good news to people who needed to hear it from a Holy God Who had every right to leave him in the fish to die.

Further, even though it seems he half-heartedly gives a sermon to the great city of Nineveh, his few words birth a great revival in the city. He has 'fruits of his labour' right in front of him, but he isn't happy. Why?

Unfortunately this is an example of what we all seem to know (maybe even personally). As the hymn-writer puts it, we are prone to wander. Jonah has a fight for his life on his hands. He is consistently going back and forth, back and forth. He, in one moment, (seemingly sincerely) surrenders to the LORD, and the very next, choosing to live his own way. Though it is not as drastic a 'run', in this section we read of Jonah running again:  

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it (vs. 5)
No, he hadn't run as far as the direction of Tarshish, but picture this scene. There is revival in the city. Most likely he could hear the commotion inside the city. Jonah could have had numerous opportunities to teach more truth of Who the True, Living LORD is - but instead he flees and sits under a tree. He can still see the city from where he's sitting - but he's definitely desiring to be a spectator. And yet, in walks the Main Character of the book of Jonah.

It's incredible to me how patient and understanding the LORD is. I can see Jonah loosing his temper a number of times, and yet the LORD simply, yet firmly, shares truth, yet again, with Jonah. The LORD truly is an ever-present help and consistently comes along-side Jonah; maybe some of the lessons are hard, but the LORD is certainly consistent. 
Wiersbe writes, 'In chapter 1, [Jonah] learned the lesson of God’s providence and patience, that you can’t run away from God. In chapter 2, he learned the lesson of God’s pardon, that God forgives those who call upon Him. In chapter 3, he learned the lesson of God’s power as he saw a whole city humble itself before the Lord. Now he had to learn the lesson of God’s pity, that God has compassion for lost sinners like the Ninevites.'

Providence & Patience. Pardon. Power. Pity. These are the themes of this book. These are the characteristics of a Holy God that Jonah needs to learn (and re-learn). These are the lessons we all need to learn! It will take much more conversation for Jonah to really come face to face with his own desire to live a holy life as the LORD calls him to live, but we don't have those conversations. The book seems to end quite abruptly.

There is only one verse remaining and it's a good one. The whole book of Jonah ends with a question - a question that we would do well to dwell on for all of our lives and see how we fit in this plan of salvation that the LORD so graciously has asked us to, mysteriously, assist Him in. So stay tuned...

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