How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
Things are not going well in Nineveh, but Nineveh is a long way away. And foreigners live there. Foreigners who do not worship the Lord our God.
As far way as Nineveh is, God cares anyway.
The Lord calls Jonah: Go right now to Nineveh. Tell them how wicked they are.
Jonah responds immediately to God's call--by jumping on a ship traveling in the opposite direction.
The Lord does not give up. The ship is caught in a big storm. Everybody on board is praying--to many different gods. They have not had the opportunity to know about the Lord our God.
Jonah sleeps through the disturbance until the captain wakes him up. He demands of Jonah, "Start praying to your God. It might work." The crew has a different solution, "One of us on board must be to blame. Let's cast lots to see who is the cause of this storm."
The lot falls on Jonah. In response to their query, Jonah tells them about the God of heaven, sea, and dry land. And he tells them that he, Jonah, has been fleeing from the Lord.
After some deliberation, they finally consent to sacrifice Jonah in hopes that this act will pacify the Lord. They throw Jonah overboard, but God is not ready to give up on this reluctant prophet.
Questions to consider:
Have you slept through challenges?
Are there groups to whom you are unwilling to approach?
How far are you willing to go--literally or figuratively--to avoid answering the call of the Lord?
Considering how ready the sailors were to believe Jonah, why did it take a disaster for him to speak out? Would they have been ready to believe him without the emergency?
He really didn't want to go to Nineveh and waste his time warning them that the Lord had noticed how sinful they were. To avoid the task, he jumped on a ship. That plan did not work for Jonah, and he finally decided to obey the Lord.
He preached to them. They listened. They believed. They repented. God decided not to destroy them.
Jonah's response was shocked anger. "I knew this would happen. This is the way you have always been. You talk about sin and punishment, but what you do is forgive. Why did I have to go to all this trouble, this trip, this preaching? I give up."
He sat down under a bush, waiting to see what God really was going to do.
We can find ourselves in this story. We can see times that we have been Nineveh. Times that we can say we didn't know better and times when someone had instructed us forcefully enough that we lost the defense of ignorance. Times when we did repent for our past doings.
We can see times that we have been Jonah. God wanted us to do something, and we really didn't want to bother. Times when we have done what we thought God wanted and then we weren't satisfied with the results.
How hard is it for us to accept that someone else's sins can be forgiven?
Jonah was unhappy not only about the forgiveness but also because the forgiveness was of foreigners. We are still wrestling with this notion. Here are two opposing views:
Pro Immigration Amnesty http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/amnesty.html
Against Amnesty for Illegal Aliens http://www.theamericanresistance.com/issues/amnesty.html
Look back at chapter 4. A door in heaven has opened so that John can see and hear.
In chapter 5, he sees one sitting on a throne with a scroll with seven seals. The lamb took the scroll.
Myriads and myriads and thousands and thousands of angels are singing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered...."
But not just angels are singing.
Every creature in heaven but not just in heaven. Every creature that lives on earth and under it and every creature that lives in the sea--they are all singing.
They are singing to the One on the throne and to the Lamb.
God created us all. The lamb was sacrificed for us all. We all respond with praise.
Off-on-a-tangent thought: I'm struck today by the reference to "the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb." Is this an allusion to the trinitarian God being both powerful and lamblike? (Another tangent: I said trinitarian and then wished I could find an explicit Spirit reference.)
Proverbs 29: 26-27
Many seek the favor of a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.
The unjust are an abomination to the righteous,
but the upright are an abomination to the wicked.
Prayer for Today: Read Psalm 133 again and pray for the specific unity you need in your life today.