Devotion: Jonah 3:1-3aSince the fall of Adam God has been reconciling His creation to Himself. While within His right to wipe away creation completely (see Genesis 6:5-8), God continually redeems and offers second chances. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord and this led God to deliver him personally and give all of creation a new start. Jonah also has found favor in the eyes of the Lord and so God gives him a new start.
"Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.' So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD." -Jonah 3:1-3a ESVThe message Jonah is given is similar to his original call from the Lord. In Jonah 1:2 the Lord calls to the prophet, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." The first call contains a reason for Jonah to go to Nineveh, namely that the wickedness of the city had come into the presence of God, polluting His holy habitation in heaven (see Hebrews 9:23-24), a problem that will only be ultimately solved in the death of Christ Jesus and his ascension to the right hand of the Father. At any rate, the parallels between Jonah 1:2 and Genesis 6:5 should help us to see the biblical pattern present here. Sin/evil/wickedness have come before God and He makes moves to stop the invasion of the fallen pollutant from spreading. In Noah's case, the Lord calls him to build a gigantic box to preserve the creation through a purification and scouring of the fallen world. In Nineveh's case, the Lord calls the prophet Jonah to go and call out against it.
The call of Jonah is usually described as a call to go and preach repentance. Such a call is actually absent from the text. Repentance, for the most part, depends upon an existing faith relationship with the Lord. Faith precedes repentance in the Reformed understanding of Scripture (see Acts 11:1-18) and is true repentance necessary prerequisite. At any rate, Jonah is called to go to Nineveh and he does not.
The second call of Jonah after the big fish incident subtly changes the call of the Lord. Jonah has been disobedient to the clear call of God. Jonah is worthy of condemnation and destruction by the Lord. Yet, the Lord's electing grace restores Jonah and calls him back to obedience. The call loses its focus on Nineveh's sin and instead focuses on Jonah's sin. Jonah has been flippant about the Word of the Lord and so now the Lord is more pointed that Jonah will say what the Lord gives him to say. Jonah has not done what the Lord called him to do, now the Lord wants to be sure that Jonah gets the message that obedience to the call of God is his only real option. If the big fish incident was not enough to convince Jonah of the Lord's power, then this call to obedience should cut through his own sin and impress upon him the seriousness of the Lord.
The amazing thing, then, is that Jonah obeys the call of God this second time without saying a word. The suffering of Jonah has brought him to the point that he sees the futility of resisting God's call. Jonah goes to Nineveh at last. I think, perhaps, that we can see our own faith and God's call in all this as well. Resisting the Lord's call will end in the Lord's will being done. Perhaps it is better to submit in obedience to His call now.
News for You:
- Spring Small Group sign ups for our study in Titus are coming soon!
- The Chelan Camp fundraiser, "Pick-a-Party" will have sign-ups following worship this Sunday, May 6. The cost is $15/adult/party or $5/child/party with a maximum family cost of $35. All funds go to support our youth camp this summer.
- The Okanogan Community Homeless Shelters Board of Directors are seeking two new board members to help lead and manage the homeless shelter ministry. If you are interested, contact Pastor Bill.