Wednesday, April 27, 2011

conversion despite a reluctant prophet

So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
Jonah 1:15-16

The story of Jonah is the story of God's sovereign revelation of Himself to the world. And He will make Himself known through His people in one way or another. Jonah was called to Ninevah to preach a message of repentance and judgment. He literally ran the other direction, hoping to escape from God's sovereign plan. But even in Jonah's disobedience, God worked graciously and sovereignly.

The first pagans that Jonah encountered were in this Tarshish bound ship. Jews were not sailors. Other nations around them sailed the Mediterranean and traded with Israel. And it was one of these pagan ships that received Jonah as passenger. When God brings a storm on the sea, the sailors begin to call out to the host of pagan gods, with no relief. When they finally force Jonah's story from him (and he tells them everything), they know that the maritime mercies of God are the only thing that could save them. When Jonah suggests they toss him overboard, they reluctantly obey the reluctant prophet. The immediate resolution of the storm brings awe and wonder to their hearts, and they worship the God of Israel. God uses Jonah in spite of himself... and not for the final time!

The message of Jonah is one of God's love for the world. And it is the lesson he tries to teach a self-righteous witness, but Jonah never seems to get it. As I read it, it is my hope that the insights will illumine my own tendencies to miss the call of God by running my own way. Certainly God is in control, and His grace will make the difference. He longs for His people to be conduits of that grace, and He will pour that grace through us, sometimes when we don't really want it!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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