A Second Chance (Jonah part II)

She Reads Truth is doing something new for Lent – every Friday the reader’s share their own thoughts on a certain passage of scripture. This is my response for the week. 

Last week (in part I), we saw how Jonah was given a calling, which he saw as an interruption, and ran the opposite direction from where God was asking him to go. We also saw in chapter 2 of Jonah how the prophet repented of his sin and God brought redemption.

This week we look at chapters 3 and 4.

In Chapter 3, God speaks to the Jonah a second time. He did not give up on Jonah. Oh, friends! Do you see that beautiful picture of redemption? We can ignore God’s plan for us, we can see His call as a interruption, but if we repent He will continue to call! He will continue to speak! He will not give up! But in our second chances, brothers and sisters, may we be like Jonah and obey the word of the Lord (Jonah 3:3).

The story of Jonah was never about Jonah.

The story of Jonah was never about the fish.

The story of Jonah is about the character of God.

So Jonah obeyed God, and then God brought repentance to the city of Nineveh. And Jonah was angry.

I can’t blame Jonah. Have you ever had someone hurt you, who doesn’t know Jesus? I have. Oh have I. And I have felt the need to pray for their salvation, and it makes me bitter, it makes me angry. Where is the justice? Jonah 4:1-4 says

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

No one can tell me they haven’t ever felt or done what Jonah has done. You know we are to love our enemies, we are to pray for their redemption. Oh we want God to be gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster when it comes to us. But our enemies? Oh heeeccckkkkk no!

jonah

The challenge questions here is this: are you concerned more about your convenience or your calling?

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:38-42)

Our calling is something greater – we are to share with the world the salvation offered by Jesus – who laid in the belly of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights to give us a second chance.

photo credit to my brother, Daniel. Follow him on instagram @ an_idiot_abroad

Regrets and Redemption (Jonah Part I)

She Reads Truth is doing something new for Lent – every Friday the reader’s share their own thoughts on a certain passage of scripture. This is my response for the week. 

jonah 1

This week we were asked for #shereadstruth to discuss Jonah 1 &2.

The first thing I want you to do is forget all you know about Jonah – because what most of us know is about Jonah and the fish. There is so much more to know!

Did you know, Jonah is the prophet who Jesus Christ compares himself 

I immediately thought of a sermon from Steven Furtick of Elevation Church I had listened to a few months ago. I suggest you listen to it (click HERE).

Jonah was running FROM the Lord. You are doing one of two things in your life right now: running TOWARDS God’s will for your life, or you are running FROM the will of God in your life. Jonah refused to preach to Nineveh, where God had called him, and ran towards Tarshish.

When you hear the word of God, do you hear it primarily as an interruption or an invitation? Jonah saw God’s word to him as an interruption. You would have too: you’re a successful prophet, God is blessing your nation, and now you’re being called to minister to some ruthless people

jonah2

Jonah saw this instruction from God an interruption to what HE saw as his calling, so he ran from it. But don’t think you won’t (or haven’t ever) do the same. God might be calling us to something and we may be running from it. Read what Steven Collins shares about Jonah, Israel (where Jonah is from), and the city of Nineveh:

Jonah knew Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire which was an enemy and existential threat to the kingdom of Israel. Jonah, close to the inner politics of the Israelite kingdom, knew very well that if God destroyed Nineveh, it would be a tremendous boon to the kingdom of Israel and it would prolong the power and strength of the kingdom of Israel. Indeed, it could even restore more of the lost greatness Israel had enjoyed in previous times! However, Jonah already knew that God had been merciful to the kingdom of Israel in spite of its sins under Jeroboam II, so he also knew that God could conceivably be merciful to Nineveh as well…Jonah realized that if God could be so merciful to sinning Israel, he might be just as merciful with sinning Assyria. If Assyria survived, Jonah also realized its power would likely overwhelm Israel in the future. Jonah loved his nation and people, and he made a plan. He thought that if he was the person who was assigned by God to bring this warning to the Assyrians, the Assyrians could not repent if they never got the warning from him. Jonah reasoned his own refusal to go would result in God’s destruction upon Nineveh and Jonah’s nation, Israel, would be spared for a long time into the future. So Jonah decided to make sure Nineveh could not repent or be spared…by refusing to go to Nineveh to deliver the message that they needed to repent. (Steven Collins)

What are you calling your current situation? It becomes what you call it.

Call it and it’ll be it because God will speak life into it. Don’t call it what it seems to be, call it what God says it is. (Furtick)

And then the fish. That fish was sent by God and it swallowed up Jonah.

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17

Three days, three nights – just like Christ who spend three days and nights in the belly of the earth before rising again. And in Jonah’s prayer which begins the 2nd chapter, Jonah states, “salvation comes from the Lord,” (Jonah 2:9).

And with that, the Lord commanded the fish to let Jonah out. And God redeems.

In chapter 1 Jonah has excuses, in chapter 2 he has regrets:

Today’s excuses are tomorrow’s regrets dressed in disguise. (Steven Furtick)

I know this all too well.  I ignored God’s call about a year ago, and I ignored what He was asking me to do.I didn’t like where he was calling me, so I made excuses and I ran towards my own Tarshish. And then about 3 months ago, my excuses became my regrets. But, as Furtick puts it, God turned my misery into my ministry. God used my disobedience to bring me to where I am today – which is where this blog began, which is where my life started changing, where I started becoming who He created me to be.

 

 

JONAH

photo credit to my brother, Daniel. Follow him on instagram @ an_idiot_abroad