Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Share The Love | There is A Big Fish Out There!

Jonah 4:2-3 
He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

The story of Jonah, a fish story; sorry I had to say that :)
Ok, seriously, a familiar story to many, believer and non-believer. The main message of this book is, God's mercy, grace & compassion toward the lost.

Ever wonder why God pursued Jonah relentlessly? God says, Jonah go right and Jonah goes left. To paraphrase, Jonah, "go to the Assyrians", "go tell the people of Nineveh about me". Jonah seems to think that somehow he has escaped God's presence, but God sees all. So, the Lord meets Jonah and pretty much says, Jonah you can't escape me; now look around, you are about to get these people on this boat killed. Therefore, it's best if they just throw you overboard so that you won't have their blood on your hands too. Now go and warn the sinner ( Ezekiel 3:18) Overboard he goes, and the Lord scoops him up...ok..he is swallowed by a fish...a BIG fish!

Jonah, a prophet, a member of God's chosen people; what is wrong Jonah, don't you want to share the love? Jonah knew of God's mercy, grace & compassion (Jonah 4:2), so what's causing your heart to panic, Jonah?

Ok, just me thinking; did Jonah really know about God's forgiveness, did he fully understand? Often when we sin against God, after the confession is just about out of our lips and are hearts are receiving God's forgiveness, an expression of his love; here comes Satan. If we are not careful the enemy of our soul, the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10) begins to whisper, "are you sure he forgave you", "did you really mean it", "you are going to fail again,why bother". And sometimes we begin to dialogue and forget what Jesus did on the cross. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11)

I'm not defending Jonah, just empathizing. I know we can relate, can't we? God speaks and we act like we did not hear him. He asks us to pardon someone who has caused us grief and we say, "surely not I Lord", you see what they have done, as if God was blind and deaf. Perhaps we really haven't learned to fully accept God's forgiveness. It's in that state of freedom; that sweet spirit of forgiveness that we want to run out and share it with the world, isn't it?

While Jonah is running, God is working. It's the heart of the Shepherd that draws us, it's that same heart that follows us all the days of our life (Psalm 23:6).

The message to be delivered was as much for the Ninevites as it was for Jonah. Ironically, the heathen nation, the ones who had no relationship with God; the instrument that God had used to teach his own about repentance, they are the recipients of this mercy; they are the ones who respond quickly. We read that the king took of his robe (I guess his robe was filthy and he needed a better covering- Hallelujah), covered himself in sackcloth and sat in the dust (Jonah 4:6). But Jonah, where are you? Jonah is whining and complaining; he has the nerve to be angry; angry at who? Is as if Jonah says, you're going to pardon them; have you not seen the grief, the pain they have caused, have you?

Jonah, had unsettled issues. He had not fully grasped the heart of the Father. He somehow had redefined for his own purposes what mercy and grace should entail and to who it should be extended. God, I'll tell you who should get some of that mercy & grace, and I'll also tell you how much; you can't just let them get off so quickly.

Mercy & grace belongs to God, he holds it, he dispenses it and always when we don't deserve it. Jonah has somehow missed the message God had been revealing throughout the ages. God had even called Jonah to be his mouth piece, but somehow he missed it. Had Jonah experienced God's forgiveness for himself? If so, why isn't he ready to tell the world, a world full of sinners about his mercy & forgiveness.

The Lord was showing mercy to the "instrument of destruction (Assyrians)". If forgiveness could somehow be extended to the enemy, Israel's enemy, how much more to you, my people..... listen Jonah, I'm speaking to you. But Jonah wants to die instead. Jonah prefers to die than to see his enemy forgiven. What a contrast! Jesus wants to die so that his enemies can be forgiven.

Jonah & I, perhaps even you, still have a lot to learn about God's immense love for people, sinners, those who dismiss God as if he does not exist or as if he does not see when we are running from him.
The bible says, that God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16). He loves us! It was while we were yet sinners, that he died (Romans 5:8). He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)

So let's go, share the Gospel, share HIS love before a BIG fish gets us!
Let's be fishers of men...not fish food :)

God bless you!~Liz


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