Today’s Reading: Jonah; 2 Kings 13:5-6; 14:25-27
This is another one of my favourite books or stories in the Bible – of another very extra-ordinary, ordinary man or prophet! Sent on a mission, he at first flees on a ship which quite conveniently happens to be in harbour – I suspect going in the opposite direction to which he should be going (didn’t look up my geography – should be easy enough to do?)! But when will I ever learn, like Jonah needed to learn, you can’t run away from God! He was like I am sometimes, DEEPLY asleep below deck (hiding? – how do you hide from God?). So I have seen that unawareness of reality, when I slip away into temptation! I also understand the terror of the sailors when they learn that he worshiped the God Who made heaven and earth and Jonah had offended Him! And I begin to think that maybe the captain and sailors had more conscience than Jonah as I see them begging God not to hold them responsible for this “innocent man,” “because You have done as You pleased!” And as far as the sailors and captain are concerned, is this a side-story of the beauty of God quietly at work in their hearts and lives!?
But Jonah is another thing! God had prepared a great fish (a fish more faithful in his mission than Jonah!). Can you feel the terror and hopelessness of Jonah when he realizes what has happened – so as some say, “There are some things which are worse than death!” (and this prophet asks for death more than once!). The verse that springs to mind is Hebrews 10:31 – “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” I pray that I won’t waste my whole life learning this truth! But most astonishing is Jonah’s in desperate prayer constant veering back to the truth that God is a compassionate, loving God (always approachable, even from a whale’s stomach, or maybe more accurately, especially in a whale’s stomach!). What I mean is that I have been comforted lately in thinking about how compassionate and loving God is, and how protective of me, when I find myself in temptation. And in my struggle, I try to remember and act on being willingness to trust FULLY that He indeed knows best! What got him out of the whale’s stomach? – willingness to pay his vows (the vow he had taken to be a prophet?) and maybe the realization that salvation comes from God? So God commands. Thank you Lord, that you command all circumstances, especially when I turn back to you from the discipline of a situation which is as bad as a whale’s stomach!
God is always the God of second chances! Beyond that, as far as I can see, he only preached for a day, when Nineveh was actually a three day journey across the city, and the whole city is turned from their wicked ways! – Who did that? I am thankful that God is always at work in a far more powerful way than I am! Unlike Jonah, I have good news as well as bad news for those around me! God will get the job done, but I am deeply privileged to be “a fellow-worker with Him!” Somehow I like being on the winning team with God!
But now the truth comes out as to why Jonah has fled, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God slow to anger and abounding in love, a God Who relents from sending calamity.” At least Jonah is honest with God! Is that why the book ends with God pleading with Jonah to understand God Himself and how GREAT His compassion was and still is! So Jonah, like I sometimes, thinks that death is better than life. But the truth is that life is good, when working with God. What do you think?
Have a good day, “out of the whale’s stomach” and sharing good news with others!!