Friday, July 7, 2017
TheStoryOfJonah: The Unanswered Question 4:11
So here we come to the last sentence, the last line of the Book of Jonah, and it ends with a question. It's curious isn't it? We have an incredible story here but I don't think any of us would end our stories with an unanswerable question. But by God's Providence, this is where we end...or do we?
We read of a man who fled (or tried to flee) from the LORD and was spared from drowning by being swallowed by a fish. Jonah repents inside the belly of the fish to be vomited on land shortly thereafter. He hears the voice of the LORD for a second time to share a message to the people of Nineveh, but this time he obeys and shares a very simple statement to the people of Nineveh and there is a great revival.
Yet, instead of seeing this great fruit, he still harbours resentment in his heart for these people - there are still many lessons Jonah needs to learn and we, yet again, see the spotlight on a gracious, merciful God who desires compassion (and relents His destruction). This clearly is confusing to Jonah and so he needs to hear from the LORD...again - just like us.
In a tone that requires an answer, the LORD asks this question of Jonah - Should I not...as if to say, 'Why shouldn't I have compassion - I'm God!' As Wiersbe writes, 'We can’t answer for [Jonah], but we can answer for ourselves. Let’s give God the right answer.'
Isn't this the point of our lives? Isn't this the one thing that the LORD desires us to wrestle with? How on earth do we contend with a God Who, at first, clearly communicates that He will wipe out a whole city and then, because of compassion, of all things, relents!?
I believe the point of the Book of Jonah is to learn the LORD's compassion for His people doesn't make sense, but is worth learning how to imitate.
How would you or I answer this question if the LORD were to ask it of us today? Maybe we too have the same issues as Jonah - maybe we too believe that we should just sit under a tree and watch the unfolding of the LORD's judgement on the world. May I encourage you to read through the Book of Jonah (again) and seek out the LORD of Compassion who does not wish any to perish but for all to come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9).
The main character of The Book of Jonah has always been the LORD. Yet, in being the main character in a performance, they wave their hand across the stage where their fellow actors and actresses bow during the audience applause, because they know they could not have done it alone. Yes, the LORD is different. He could have chosen to do all these things alone - without Jonah - but He sought after him...unrelenting. The LORD could have done all the work Himself, but He condescends Himself so others could receive great benefit of knowing His heart and sharing His heart with others.
So how will you answer this question if the LORD asked you today?
Should I not have compassion on [ ]...?
Fill in the blank... answer the question for your life today serving the LORD. And watch Him work and the great compassion He chooses to bestow on all Who wish to have Him in their lives!