Sunday, 10 September 2017

Jonah - Rebel with a Cause (2)

We saw in the first blog on this series some of the background and big themes to Jonah.  Now we move on to the start of the story, Jonah's rebellion against God.

An Attitude Problem

Jonah had a wrong attitude to God's will.  God clearly called him to Nineveh but he got on a boat in Joppa to go on a Mediterranean cruise.  Most of my life I have believed that Jonah disobeyed God's clear command because he was a coward. Having studied Jonah again I actually don't believe this was true.  When the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time (Jonah 3 v 1) Jonah didn't hesitate.  I think the issue of Jonah's rebellion is much deeper than fear.  In many ways, as a Jew, he must have been rubbing his hands at the thought of God destroying Nineveh.  The Assyrians were a barbaric and feared people that were the sworn enemies of the people of Israel.  But Jonah knew the character of God. He knew His patience and mercy towards his own people and he feared that God would show love and mercy towards Nineveh.  This would put him in a difficult position because as prophet who had prophesied destruction, his reputation could be damaged if God showed His mercy. This is a big theme emerging in Jonah, that of human pride.  Jonah made an idol of his reputation.

A Curse instead of Blessing

God promised through Abram (later Abraham) that the ethnic nation of Israel would be blessing to all the nations of the world (Gen 12 v 1-3).  But instead of a blessing Jonah became a curse.  Firstly under this heading we see that Jonah lost the voice of God.  When Jonah stopped listening to God's word, God had to speak through works.  When God chooses to speak through works it usually gets our attention.  With Jonah God used the sea, the wind, the rain, thunder and a great fish.  It was almost as if God was saying to Jonah: 'look how all the elements obey me - except you'.  Not only did God get Jonah's attention through the elements but the sailors also rebuked the man of God.  We sometimes limit the ways in which God speaks to us but God can and does use different means.  As Jonah found out the hard way 'God never allows His children to sin successfully.'  Jonah found that there were many consequences to rebellion. 

Secondly he lost his energy - while the sailors were furiously fighting the storm Jonah was asleep in the hold. Jonah couldn't see the danger he was in - his rebellion had blunted his spiritual sharpness. 

Thirdly Jonah also lost his power in prayer.  One of the most bizarre things about Jonah's story is that the heathen sailors were crying out to God while the prophet of God was sleeping.  The one person who know the living and true God wasn't calling on Him!  Jonah shows us what we loose when we run from God and His word.  God eventually gets our attention - often through a storm. 

Thankfully Jonah is full of God's redemption.  Jonah gets another chance and eventually preaches to the people of Nineveh.  He lives up to the name of his father Ammitai - faithful or truthful.  Jonah came to see that while he was faithless and rebellious, God alone is faithful and gracious and give Jonah (and us) a second chance.





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