1THEN JONAH prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly, 2And said, I cried out of my distress to the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of Sheol cried I, and You heard my voice.(A) 3For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your waves and Your billows passed over me.(B) 4Then I said, I have been cast out of Your presence and Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.(C) 5The waters compassed me about, even to [the extinction of] life; the abyss surrounded me, the seaweed was wrapped about my head.(D) 6I went down to the bottoms and the very roots of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever. Yet You have brought up my life from the pit and corruption, O Lord my God. 7When my soul fainted upon me [crushing me], I earnestly and seriously remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.
9But as for me, I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation and deliverance belong to the Lord!
Ok, I have to admit that mean people, up to this point, have prompted me to pray in ways I shouldn’t have! I confess. I didn’t realize the error in my prayers or ways or thoughts until just such a person was a topic of prayers last week – “please remove this person from my life” has been known to come out of my mouth!! Wow! So, not Jesus! God grabbed my attention when He said: “Your being like Jonah! You are more concerned with “destroying” them, than you are of their life – that they would repent and turn from their evil ways.” Ouch! Of course, God was right! Wow, to put someone’s/anyone’s salvation ahead of how they treat us is a Jesus way to walk and our call. This is where the spit hits the fan, rubber meets the road…this is where we put action to all our pretty words!
Far too often I, we, seem to conveniently forget that we have been forgiven MUCH and that God expects us to pass that grace on to everyone. Jonah, as quoted above, said the right stuff, but when faced with backing up his words with action, failed miserably. Am I judging him? Nope, I’m just as guilty. God answered Jonah’s cry for mercy, and saved his life, and yet Jonah was angry when God heard the repentance of the people of Nineveh and turned His wrath from them to save them. To look at Jonah’s statements above and at his anger over God turning His wrath from those people I would have to assume that what Jonah actually meant in his pretty words was: “and He hears only me”, “You only hear my voice”, “You will only bring MY life up from the pit and corruption”, “Only my prayers come into Your holy temple”. Or maybe it’s a matter of “me and anyone who I think deserves it”. Jesus didn’t call me/us to determine worthiness in others.
Jonah was also angry because God didn’t do what He sent Jonah to say He would do. I would say that is being more concerned with his own appearance, his own “rightness” than with those people. He cared more for being right than for the people. Jesus didn’t show that as a way to walk through this life at all. Jesus only spoke what God said, and was always more concerned with the salvation of the people than His own treatment. He wasn’t concerned with His appearance, or being right. He didn’t go around proving His rightness. He just spoke God’s word, and did His will.
Big lesson this week! God cares for all – and their salvation might just be the reason we are in their line of fire.
Thank you God!