9/11/2013

Second Chances

Tonight, I'll be teaching a women's Bible study at our little church on the border. We're studying the book of Jonah. It's a familiar Sunday School Bible story, many of us have heard over the years. It's easy to focus on the "great fish" and there have been innumerable debates over the actual "great fish" that swallowed Jonah. However, the fish is a minor player in this book.

The real focus of the four short chapters is the dialogue between God and Jonah. God begins the conversation with Jonah, who's a well known prophet in Israel. He tells him to go to Nineveh, a great city in Assyria and tell them that God's judgment is coming. Now the Assyrians were Israel's archenemies, despised and hated by any self-respecting Israelite. There was a reason for this. The Assyrians were unspeakably cruel and wicked. Israel had been captured, plundered, and massacred by these people. Judgment for the Assyrians was probably music to the prophet's ears.

If you read the first chapter of Jonah, you won't find that Jonah says anything about this assignment. Instead, he acted out in a passive aggressive manner and ran away. His actions spoke louder than any words. 
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Jonah 1:3 NIV

When the perfect storm slammed into the ship  on which Jonah is attempting his escape, he had plenty to say. Admitting that he's on the run from God and the storm is all his fault, Jonah told them to throw him overboard. If he drowned at least he wouldn't have to go to Nineveh, but as you know, God had other plans. The "great fish" was just waiting for Jonah to hit the water. After that, Jonah got a second chance.

I'm so glad our God gives second chances, and sometimes many more. Even when we deliberately run away from what He wants us to do. Even when we deserve His harshest judgment, He acts in mercy and grace.  Another prophet--Jeremiah had this to say:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV





2 comments:

Dawn Turner said...

So true! Until I reached adulthood and read the book of Jonah for myself, I didn't even know what the book was really all about. All the years I spent in Sunday school and VBS, they focused on the fish (or "whale" as many of them inaccurately referred to it). I didn't realize what an incredible story it is about human nature (Jonah's passive-aggression, rebellion, and what amounts to a temper tantrum) and God's loving pursuit of us even when we willfully choose disobedience. It also beautifully illustrates His grace and mercy in that He was willing to give the people of Nineveh a chance to come to salvation when they most definitely didn't deserve it. SO much more there than I was ever taught at church growing up. :)

Laurinda Wallace said...

Thanks, Dawn. Your insights are all included in the my latest Bible study entitled Me and My Big Mouth. God's pursuit of Jonah reminds me of the poem, "The Hound of Heaven."

Positively encouraging

9/11/2013

Second Chances

Tonight, I'll be teaching a women's Bible study at our little church on the border. We're studying the book of Jonah. It's a familiar Sunday School Bible story, many of us have heard over the years. It's easy to focus on the "great fish" and there have been innumerable debates over the actual "great fish" that swallowed Jonah. However, the fish is a minor player in this book.

The real focus of the four short chapters is the dialogue between God and Jonah. God begins the conversation with Jonah, who's a well known prophet in Israel. He tells him to go to Nineveh, a great city in Assyria and tell them that God's judgment is coming. Now the Assyrians were Israel's archenemies, despised and hated by any self-respecting Israelite. There was a reason for this. The Assyrians were unspeakably cruel and wicked. Israel had been captured, plundered, and massacred by these people. Judgment for the Assyrians was probably music to the prophet's ears.

If you read the first chapter of Jonah, you won't find that Jonah says anything about this assignment. Instead, he acted out in a passive aggressive manner and ran away. His actions spoke louder than any words. 
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Jonah 1:3 NIV

When the perfect storm slammed into the ship  on which Jonah is attempting his escape, he had plenty to say. Admitting that he's on the run from God and the storm is all his fault, Jonah told them to throw him overboard. If he drowned at least he wouldn't have to go to Nineveh, but as you know, God had other plans. The "great fish" was just waiting for Jonah to hit the water. After that, Jonah got a second chance.

I'm so glad our God gives second chances, and sometimes many more. Even when we deliberately run away from what He wants us to do. Even when we deserve His harshest judgment, He acts in mercy and grace.  Another prophet--Jeremiah had this to say:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV





2 comments:

Dawn Turner said...

So true! Until I reached adulthood and read the book of Jonah for myself, I didn't even know what the book was really all about. All the years I spent in Sunday school and VBS, they focused on the fish (or "whale" as many of them inaccurately referred to it). I didn't realize what an incredible story it is about human nature (Jonah's passive-aggression, rebellion, and what amounts to a temper tantrum) and God's loving pursuit of us even when we willfully choose disobedience. It also beautifully illustrates His grace and mercy in that He was willing to give the people of Nineveh a chance to come to salvation when they most definitely didn't deserve it. SO much more there than I was ever taught at church growing up. :)

Laurinda Wallace said...

Thanks, Dawn. Your insights are all included in the my latest Bible study entitled Me and My Big Mouth. God's pursuit of Jonah reminds me of the poem, "The Hound of Heaven."