Thursday, July 26, 2012

JONAH CHAPTER #4...A SPECIAL MESSAGE

                                                       Sailing From God To Tarshish

In the last post, the first three chapters of Jonah were discussed in detail, but Chapter #4 was purposely omitted, because it did not make complete sense to me. For the last 10 days I have been reading it repeatedly, while researching the Hebrew scholars, the original language issues and modern interpretation. Just last night with the help of the writing of John Calvin, Matthew Henry and light of the Holy Spirit, I finally get it. I get why Jonah was mad at God. I get why he did not want to go to Nineveh, and I even get why he built himself a, "booth," outside the city to wait for God's wrath.

So hear goes...Jonah was a prophet. He might have been a minor prophet, but he had a MAJOR ego. When prophets do their thing and prophesy (the verb), they predict future events. In this case he predicted the demise of Nineveh. The reason for all the stress and anger is simply his fear that his amazing description of Yahweh might come true. You see, in chapter 4:2, Jonah complains to God in prayer that He (God) was gracious, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, and often changed his mind when people were legitimately sorry for their sin. He thought the Almighty was setting him up for failure in his ability to predict accurately. Jonah was keeping score of the wrong game, just as we often do.

His preoccupation with his own reputation amongst the Hebrew nation made Jonah miss the whole point of being sent to Nineveh. He could not rejoice in saving 120,000 Gentiles from imminent death, so he did what he was told to do, and then immediately left the city. Just like a spoiled child, he made it clear to God, that it was His fault if his prediction did not come true. Just like a human father, God gave Jonah a plant for some shade, while he sulked outside the city gate.
                                                           Pouting Outside Nineveh

This clarity on Chapter 4 makes me smile from ear to ear! God Almighty was doting on his beloved Jonah, just like I have done many times with my own kids. If you now take the entire book and put it together, you get the gigantic irony as you finish the book. 

God has him tossed overboard, into a fish for 3 days. Then He has him spat upon the shore of Nineveh. What amazing patience and grace! Then when God does the right thing and spares the people, his immaturity continues to get the better of him, while he frets about his reputation. 

Sound familiar!! Look what God has done for us each day, and we still sulk and worry about our reputations and more. In all of scripture I cannot find a better description of the Lord we have chosen to serve. Despite His grace, despite His mercy, despite His temperament, despite his kindness, and despite His earnest desire to forgive, Jonah asks this same God to let him die because of his egotistical embarrassment. 
                                                           Prophesying to the King

This story has warmed hearts in Sunday Schools and Sabbath Schools for many years. May it warm all of us so-called adults with the corrected vision of our God. At the time I am sure Jonah had no idea that he was providing the world for thousands of years with an insightful look at our own Heavenly Father.

Commit Jonah 4:2 to heart, and you can never be led astray about the true character and genuine warmth of our Creator.


The Digital Disciple

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Hearing from you is certainly not a requirement. Consideration of what is researched and written is all I ask of anyone who stumbles upon my writings. I believe that my God will take it from there. With His help I try to separate fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and ultimately clarity from chaos.

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