Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 9 December 21:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Jonah: https://youtu.be/dLIabZc0O4c
Jonah 1:1-3 — “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…. But Jonah rose to flee… from the presence of the Lord.”
What has God called you through His word to do or to be which you have ignored, refused, or put off (delayed obedience is disobedience)? Have you convinced yourself that you can escape the conviction of the Holy Spirit or that the Holy God who loves you more than you love yourself will allow you to continue in denial, compromise, or distance from Him? How long will a jealous God accept your idols (what you place ahead of Him)? What will it take for God to get your attention? Will you, like Jonah, have to be taken to utter ruin before you “remember” that God is the LORD? Will it take a Jonah experience to finally say, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”?
God has called us to spread the Gospel to all people. When we flee from our responsibility to the Great Commandment and Great Commission, we are fleeing from the presences of God, which is of course actually impossible. Jonah resented the thought of those he despised potentially receiving God’s mercy and grace through repentance and faith, so he sought to withhold God’s word from them. Though we might not actively avoid sharing the Gospel with difficult people, we might passively deny them by merely choosing not to confront them, thereby demonstrating our lack of love and concern. Hate and resentment keep us from fulfilling our life’s purpose of bringing people to Jesus, and it also separates us from God.
Jonah 1:8, 9 – “’What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?’ And he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’”
Jonah didn’t identify himself by “occupation” but rather by “profession” (statement of belief) or “vocation” (calling) – “I fear the Lord.” What do you say when people ask what you do? Are you known mostly as an ambassador for Christ or an employee?
Ironically, despite Jonah’s proclamation, He wasn’t demonstrating a fear of the Lord and sought to flee from the “God… who made the sea” on a boat. Meanwhile, the pagan sailors demonstrated more reverence for the Lord than Jonah did — “Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish…. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows ” (Jonah 1:6, 16) While Jonah was seeking to run from God, the sailors were seeking God’s presence, mercy, protection, and salvation. There are many places in the Bible where God’s people act less respectful of God or receptive to God than the unbelievers. Unfortunately, the same can be said today. (See 1 Timothy 5:8; Luke 19:30-37; Genesis 20:9-11)
Jonah 2:9 – “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
Jonah, while having sinned against God and after having been consumed by a whale because of his sin, still prayed with hope and thanksgiving. He understood that under any conditions, God could save him and that God does not reject the truly repentant. He also recognized that truly worshipping God requires doing what He commands. God brought Jonah to a place of surrender, repentance, gratefulness, obedience, and praise. What does it take for God to get you to submit to Him joyfully and to praise Him?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 December 21: Put off no longer what God has convicted you to do.