Monday, September 29. Jonah 4 – Micah 2

R. Kent Hughes tells the story of a little boy guilty of misbehaving in the classroom. His teacher told him to go sit in a chair in the corner. The little boy did so, but then announced to the room: “I may be sitting down on the outside but I’m standing up on the inside.”

In the final chapter of Jonah, the prophet is “standing up on the inside” – and against God at that!

If his prayer in chapter 2 seems a bit self-centered, the prayer in chapter 4 confirms it. He hated the Assyrians and wanted nothing for them but death. He didn’t mind that the Lord, despite Jonah’s hatred for the Ninevites, caused shade to shield the prophet from the desert sun. But when the Lord took it away, Jonah was furious with God; furious for not obliterating the repentant city, and furious for not preserving the shade for himself.

God’s final words to the prophet are instructive for us. Jonah was concerned about something he had no connection to. He resented God’s concern for the children and livestock of Nineveh. He should be ashamed of himself.

And, of course, so should we, when we find ourselves more concerned with our own well-being than the well-being of others we may not like, but for whom God has a heart.

Tuesday, June 25. Jonah 3 – 4; 2 Kings 13

Jonah must have been a great, powerful, motivating speaker. How else to explain his success in Nineveh?

The writer tells us that Nineveh was a great metropolis, “a visit required three days.” This latter phrase likely simply underscores the greatness of the city. The remains of Nineveh certainly do not indicate that it took a three day journey to cross it. More important than the size of the city is its political position. It would reach the zenith of its power later, but it was the capital of the Assyrian empire. Jack Lewis writes: “Assyria . . . was a nation largely geared for aggressive war. Its atrocities were as proverbial as the records and the art left by its kings make quite clear. . . Its victims lay prone under tyranny, but no national spirit breathed in the corpus. . . Nineveh saw men and nations as tools to be exploited to gratify the lust of conquest and commercialism. Assyria existed to render no service to mankind.”

You can understand then why Jonah didn’t want to preach to them. The very idea that they might repent and escape the wrath of God was repugnant to him.

The message of this itinerant stranger from Israel spread rapidly from street corner to king’s palace and soon, by royal edict, everyone was expressing penitence.

Though I began today’s thoughts with reference to Jonah’s great talent, the fact is, success is not in the hands of mortals. Action is. God gives the success. We’d do well to remember that. There is no place the word of God cannot go, no heart it cannot touch, if we will but simply take it.

Sunday, June 24. Jonah 1 – 4

Someone has outlined Jonah as having four parts:

Chapter 1 – Jonah runs away from God.
Chapter 2 – Jonah runs to God.
Chapter 3 – Jonah runs with God
Chapter 4 – Jonah runs ahead of God.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the belly of a whale (or big fish).

As a child I thought it might have been a bit roomy, kinda like the old Disney movie scene with Geppetto and Pinocchio in the whale’s belly.  But nothing could be further from the truth than that.  First, the smell would have had to have been awful!  Second, air would have been in short supply.  Third, it would have been dark.  Fourth, there’s no telling what kind of creepy slimy crawly stuff Jonah would have felt.

Jonah describes how he felt in a long poem in chapter two that draws on a multitude of prayers from the Psalms Jonah must have heard all his life.  Unlike the resignation that seems to have characterized Jonah in chapter 1, in chapter two, God has Jonah’s full attention.  As his life ebbs away, he cries in penitence for rescue.

And God provides it.

Never be afraid to call out to the Lord at the last minute.  That’s not permission to wait until then to cry out, but if you have, don’t be afraid (or too stubborn) to do it.   God is listening.

Sunday, June 24. Jonah 1 – 4

    Someone has outlined Jonah as having four parts:

Chapter 1 – Jonah runs away from God.

Chapter 2 – Jonah runs to God.

Chapter 3 – Jonah runs with God

Chapter 4 – Jonah runs ahead of God.

    I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the belly of a whale (or big fish).

    As a child I thought it might have been a bit roomy, kinda like the old Disney movie scene with Geppetto and Pinocchio in the whale’s belly.  But nothing could be further from the truth than that.  First, the smell would have had to have been aweful!  Second, air would have been in short supply.  Third, it would have been dark.  Fourth, there’s no telling what kind of creepy slimy crawly stuff Jonah would have felt.

    Jonah describes how he felt in a long poem in chapter two that draws on a multitude of prayers from the Psalms Jonah must have heard all his life.  Unlike the resignation that seems to have characterized Jonah in chapter 1, in chapter two, God has Jonah’s full attention.  As his life ebbs away, he cries in penitence for rescue.

    And God provides it.

    Never be afraid to call out to the Lord at the last minute.  That’s not permission to wait until then to cry out, but if you have, don’t be afraid (or too stubborn) to do it.   God is listening.