Scripture text for Thursday, March 11th, 2010: Jonah 1:1-4:11
Jonah’s rebellious response to God’s call is both shocking and perplexing. The entire account follows Jonah’s carousel of emotions from clinical rage to belligerent rebellion. The lessons we can take away regarding obedience, desperation, contempt, and submission are numerous. Jonah models precisely how not to respond to God’s call in our life. Much like Jonah we turn and head in the opposite direction when God calls us to forgive and cancel the debt of those who have sinned against us. There are moments when God calls us to serve His plan but we suffer from a rigid perspective and lack of trust. Jonah’s anger and refusal to obey are excellent examples of how we complicate and frustrate God’s design and purpose.
Aside from the lessons we learn regarding Jonah’s poor temperament, there’s an even greater teaching within this text. At first glance this narrative spins a story of Jonah versus God and there appears to be little else to extract. However, the book of Jonah has far more to do with the subplot than the apparent compounding tension. The story of Jonah is far more about the sovereignty and relentless compassion of God. The lengths at which God goes to send Jonah may well have intended to soften Jonah’s heart. But, God’s unapologetic pursuit had far more to do with the people in Nineveh. I do believe God desired Jonah submit to His will and it is clear God hoped to frustrate Jonah’s rebellion. But the ultimate point of this story with the great fish and miraculous vine is compassion.
God deeply longed for the wicked people of Nineveh to repent. God desired the people renounce sin and enter into a relationship with Him. In the same way God pursues us with a divine form of reckless abandon. In the end, not even Jonah could stop the people of Nineveh from being offered a second chance. God’s compassion for us is no different. Regardless of who or what might challenge His plan, the call to repentance and subsequent grace reaches us every time.
Devotion prepared by Todd Burkholder