As I look over this past year, one thing sticks out more for me than anything else this past year. It isn’t the most significant trial I’ve gone through, nor the greatest miracle I received. Its seeing and experiencing God’s MERCY.
A man I knew came forward for prayer. He was having pain in his arm. I knew he was living in sin because he told me. I thought to myself. God’s not going to heal you; you are in sin. Never the less I prayed for healing in his body. To my amazement, God healed him. He was surprised, but I was surprised to even more. This blew my religious belief out of the water. I believed God does not answer prayers of those in deliberate sin. So I asked the Lord why did you heal him. The Lord simply said, “Because I love him.” You mean God loves the sinner, absolutely, but he hates the sin.
I could have argued with God, and told him, that wasn’t right, but I would be wrong. God is God, and I am not, mercy and salvation is of God, as Jonah will realize.
1.Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD and went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.”
Scripture says Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. Can you indeed flee or hide from God and He doesn’t see you, of course not? Instead of obeying God, Jonah fled from God. Why didn’t God find someone else who would obey Him? Why Jonah? Yes, God could have found someone else, but he chose Jonah. Someone else would have said yes Lord and went. But God chose Jonah. Why? God was dealing with Jonah’s heart and beliefs.
Jonah was called to preach and prophesize to the Israelite, but God did something different, something new. Jonah didn’t want the change. But God wanted to change Jonah. God calls Jonah to go to a heathen city of Nineveh to the gentiles and warn them of God’s judgment, just as Jonah had done with the Israelites. However, when Jonah is put to the test of being called to carry out a difficult and unpopular task, the true spiritual state of his heart was revealed.
The Ninevites weren’t serving God. They were steep in sin and idolatry. They weren’t even his people; they were a heathen nation. As far as Jonah was concerned they deserved judgment. After all, they are reaping what they sowed.
Jonah is loyal to Israel just like many are loyal to their church. He may be religious and attends services regularly, he may tithe generously, but he is also "proud, self-centered, pouting, vengeful; without proper respect or obedience to God, or a love for his enemies." You can be called into ministry, have a spiritual gift, huge ministry, and following, and still, be running from God's purpose and will, Jonah did.
Jonah is not a man to pattern your life after, yet there are many in the body of Christ just like him. They are loyal to their Church and family, but behind closed doors, there is a different personality that emerges when put to the test. Anger, jealousy, backbiting, gossip, profanity, vengeful, unforgiveness, etc.
Jonah 1:3 “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
So Jonah left his home, family, friends and most of all his ministry and took off for parts unknown. Was Jonah running from God’s presence?
It appears that Jonah was running from God, or was he simply running from himself? Was he running because he was wrong about God? Everything Jonah thought he knew about God from his religious upbringing and teachings was now in question. Was he running because God’s will and purpose didn’t line up with his?
Jonah wasn’t just running from God’s presence. Jonah QUIT God. Jonah knew about the judgment and wrath of God for sin, He preached it and warned his people to get right with God. Now he was told to go to an ungodly nation and preach repentance. A people who were not God’s people but they were His creation.
If Jonah was wrong about judgment and mercy, what else was he wrong about concerning God, Israel, the word of God, God's real purpose and plan for Jonah. Can you quit God? People do it all the time, especially those in ministry. They are offended, angry or just plain hurt so they walk away from the Church, from there office or gifting, some even close the Church, and walk away from God. Yes, you can quit God, but God won’t give up on you. To be continued.