A Disastrous Cruise
Heavenly Father, I praise You that You are so majestic, but I also praise You that You are so knowable.
Read Jonah 1:1-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
God made us in his image and we constantly try to remake him in ours. Praise God he’s not like us!
If we read Jonah 1 out of the context of the whole book we would probably think that Jonah ran away from God because the task assigned him was too hard and that the storm and Jonah’s subsequent adversities were God’s punishment for his disobedience. Chapter 4, however, makes it clear that the whole of the book of Jonah is about God’s mercy. Jonah ran away from God because he didn’t like the thought that God’s mercy might stretch as far as Nineveh, and he certainly didn’t want to play any part in that mercy being demonstrated to Assyrians. This may be understandable when we consider the extent of Nineveh’s atrocities, but it is not acceptable for anyone committed to following the God of mercy. We can’t pick and choose those elements of God’s character we think should be applied in a given situation. God is bigger, better, more merciful and more awesome than we or Jonah would sometimes like him to be.
The awfulness of the voyage towards Tarshish, resulting in Jonah’s being thrown in the sea and swallowed by a fish, was not a punishment from God but a further sign of his mercy towards Jonah. If Jonah was to be the best that he could be for God and achieve his full potential, then there were things that he had to learn. Because of his stubbornness, such learning could only come through very hard lessons. If God had let him simply move away from Nineveh’s influence, Jonah would never have come to terms with who God really is, and that would have been a huge loss for him. God, however, is ready to show mercy not just to Nineveh but even to stubborn Jonah and, incidentally, to the good-hearted, if somewhat theologically confused, sailors at the same time.
Do you accept God as he really is, or only want to worship him if he conforms to certain expectations? Praise God for who he is and all he is.
Father, Your call can be clear but, like Jonah, I have resisted it at times. Forgive me when I’ve gone in the opposite direction. How patient You are!