Did you see the headlines back in June? A modern day Jonah story. If Myth Busters were involved I don’t know if this story would make the story of Jonah more plausible or not, but it does make you wonder.
Years ago we went to the Sight and Sound Theater in Branson, Missouri and saw the story of Jonah played out in the theater. To date it is my favorite production I have seen there. Maybe because I can relate to Jonah. I too am a fan of Justice. I naturally see things black and white and want the wrongdoers punished and everything made right.
Justice For All
The verse “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute” you is hard for me. Just being a little honest here. I know it is what you are supposed to do, and when asked I recommend it for others. But in the quietness of my room, I struggle with this one. Do you ever struggle with it too?
I’m reading through the Bible with my daughters and many friends this year. We are using The Bible Recap with Tara-Leigh Cobble. (side note: highly recommend the podcast that goes along with the reading plan!) About two weeks ago we read the story of Jonah, and you guys, it is messing with me.
A Lot Like Jonah
The book begins with God telling Jonah to go to Nineveh and announce His judgment against it. Awesome! Bad people, doing bad things, will soon reap the consequences! But wait. Jonah’s response is so startling, “He immediately gets up and goes in the COMPLETELY opposite direction trying to get as far away from God as he can.” First let’s think for a minute. It’s kind of funny, doesn’t he know God is everywhere and he can’t actually get away from God? Anyways…
You would think Mr. Justice Man would be excited that the city of Niveveh will finally get what it deserves. But he is not. Why? We don’t learn his reason until the end of the book. The people of Nineveh had just heard Jonah’s ONE line warning and immediately believed and repented, and God did not destroy the city. Even the king stopped his evil ways and turned towards the Lord. Then Jonah leaves Nineveh and has a very candid conversation with God.
Flip over to Jonah 4:1-3
“This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
So I’m not AS dramatic as Jonah. I have never wished to be dead rather than see God do what I don’t want Him to do. But I have been confused, frustrated and angry when I don’t see justice served like I would like it to be. I can relate to Jonah.
Has God ever told you to do something and you choose not to do it? Maybe you didn’t run in the other direction, but I would venture to say that none of us have followed every Holy Spirit nudge. We all could grow in our obeying Holy Spirit’s leading, but this time around God showed me something new. Something deeper.
Jonah didn’t want to obey because he knew if he did Nineveh would be saved. He knew his God. He knew God does not like anyone to perish but wants all to be saved. Jonah knew if they heard the message, they would repent and God would save them. That is who God is. That is His character, and He is always true to who He is.
Jonah was so stuck on what he felt was right that he missed the bigger picture, the eternal perspective. Isn’t our time on earth supposed to be all about the Great Commission? Seeing ALL become disciples and experience the saving grace of God. That is what God wants. Shouldn’t that be our focus too?
More Like Jesus
Pondering this story has made me think more about what is going on inside my heart. I shouldn’t be so focused on what a person deserves or what they should do. When I feel my emotions start to build up, I am trying to pause and ask the Lord what is His will in this situation and how am I to respond. How have you learned how to respond more like Jesus and less like Jonah in your own life?