Sunday, June 26, 2016

Who Would You Rather See God Judge than Save?

Readings for the Day
Jonah 1-4, 2 Timothy 2

Verses for the Day
From the Lord
1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Thoughts for the Day
As we read the book of Jonah, it is easy to give Jonah a hard time. But as we read the story, we might upon reflection see ourselves in him. First of all, Jonah is called by God to go to preach to the Ninevites, Israel's enemies. Jonah did not want to see those who he despised shown mercy. He did not think they deserved it. And instead of obeying God's command, he went in the opposite direction as fast as he could. Here is what one commentator says about the distance between the two:

The contrast between Nineveh and Tarshish was vast. Nineveh was located east of the Tigris River in modern-day Iraq. It was more than 500 miles east of Jonah’s hometown. Tarshish, in contrast, was west of Gath-hepher. In fact, Tarshish stood more than 2,500 miles from Israel in the opposite direction of Nineveh. It was the most remote destination available to Jonah. Jonah was trying to put as much distance as he could between himself and the Assyrians. Whatever happened to Nineveh, Jonah would not be there to see it.

As we read through the rest of the book, Jonah cannot outrun God. Finally, he is thrown into the sea where he finds himself in the belly of the whale for three days. This was possibly a foreshadowing of Jesus being raised three days after he died. When Nineveh repents upon hearing Jonah's preaching, he is not happy. He knew God would be merciful and that is why he did not go in the first place. As Jonah sulks away, he wishes he would die rather than seeing his enemies, the Assryians saved. God provides him a green, leafy plant to protect him from the sun. Then, when the worm eats the plant, the sun scorches Jonah and he is angry. Then, comes the punchline. God says, "Did I not provide the plant for you. You did nothing to make it grow or die. Should I not concern myself with the 120,000, who don't know their right hand from their left hand."

What can we learn from Jonah? How are we like him? What does this story show us about God and His nature? Isn't it ironic that when it comes to us we want mercy. But if our enemies are facing judgment, we think are getting what they deserve and are feel smug about it. There are two questions you might ask yourself? Who or what people group would you not want God to send you to? In another words, who would you rather see God judge than save?

Most importantly as you look at your own life, do you truly understand what God did for you? The bible says this about the condition we were in before God showed us mercy. Paul says to the Colossians in chapter 1,

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

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