Last Tuesday. The focus of our last session of Pathways to ministry was called 'An Introduction to Critical Incident Analysis', i.e. reflecting on an event in our life to find out what God was or is showing us. This was a really interesting session.
Thursday, I started to think about Jonah.
I remember the first time I read the story of Jonah, I thought that he was just mean not to tell the Ninevites to be saved by the Lord. Mean or arrogant? Did he decide it was not worth to tell the Ninevites because they were so sinful! One must think outside the box, forget about the 'fish swallowing Jonah' and think that it is impossible, Jesus says :
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
Tonight, I did more research on this story.
One theme appears : Jonah is disobedient and he suffers consequences until he obeys, that is, tell the Ninevites about the Lord and their salvation. You may ask what's that got to do with us. A lot. I started to make a list of the things I ought to do and I say 'later'... :(
Second theme. Who is He to chose who to bring the good news of salvation. Only the Lord is sovereign and decides. He is not subject to others’ decisions. His purposes for choosing some and rejecting others are hidden in the secret counsels of His own will. Moreover, everything that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, decreed it, and called it into existence. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).
Third theme: Back in Deuteronomy, the Lord promised that if Israel was unfaithful, he would provoke them to jealousy by leaving them and giving his covenant blessing to another people (Deut.32:21). This is exactly the context of Jonah, who was a prophet in Samaria (Northern Israel) under Jeroboam II (2Ki.14:23-25). Jeroboam was no saint, rather he was an apostate king, and the people followed him into sin.
So when the "Word of the LORD" comes to Jonah and tells him to go to Ninevah. Jonah knows that this is the beginning of the fulfillment of that Deut.32:21 prophecy. A fulfillment that would find its fullest expression in the New Testament (Acts 13:45,17:5,Rom.10:19, 1Thess.2:14-15). It's not a hatred of the Ninevites that drives him in the opposite direction, but a grieving realisation that God is beginning to close the Old Covenant - something he doesn't want to face up to.
Israel have ceased being the Head and would soon be the tail of the nations (Deut.28:44).Any thoughts on Jonah, drop us a line. Have a blessed week-end. N.