Two Big Lessons from Jonah
Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” —Jonah 1:8-9, 12
While there are a lot of smaller lessons tucked into the short book of Jonah, a couple of big ones stick out everywhere. Here’s the first lesson: The longer our rebellion lasts, the harder it is to get back. Jonah himself is exhibit A of this point. The lesson is made over and over in the text.
Now, here’s what I don’t mean by rebellion. Rebellion is not ignorance. Ignorant behavior follows when you don’t know what God wants you to do. It’s not rebellion if you don’t know. An action may still be sinful, but it’s not rebellion if done in ignorance. Second, rebellion is not discouragement. It’s not where you know, but you just need some support and encouragement to get it done. We all need to be encouraged. So, when you know and you’re trying and failing but you just need to be encouraged, that’s not rebellion
So, what is rebellion? Rebellion is when you know what God wants you to do but you won’t do it. Rebellion is a refusal to do what God clearly requires. Rebellion can be the tone in my marriage or with my kids or with my time, my finances, or lifestyle. In the book of Jonah, the people of Nineveh were ignorant sinners; Jonah was a rebel who knew better. God has written a Book, and if you know what it says and you don’t do it, that’s rebellion. The longer our rebellion lasts, the harder it is to get back. When Jonah ends, the prophet is still trying to get back.
Here’s the second lesson: God is absolutely relentless in His pursuit of us. He doesn’t ignore or give up on rebels. If you think God is like, “Well, there she goes. Gosh, bye,” that is so not God. When we try to run from God, God comes after us, and He never lets up. You may realize that’s true in your life at this moment. God’s been coming after you this month about some specific stuff in your life. You’re thinking, “We have to talk about this again?” And God’s like, “Yes.”Because God is absolutely relentless in His pursuit of us. —James MacDonald
· Describe the situation in a couple areas of my life in which I have a strong sense that God is definitely in pursuit of me?
· What will I do next?
Prayer: Almighty Father, in today’s reading in Your Word, Jonah takes the quick way out of his problem. He’s still trying to “run” by having the sailors throw him overboard instead of surrendering to You. Help me to realize that surrendering to You means giving in, not giving up. It means turning around and facing You, not running a different direction. I know that You pursue me because You love me. Teach me to trust that You always have the best in mind for me, no matter how things may look at the moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.