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Jonah Pays and Prays

(Jonah 1:1-2:10)

Lesson 10 -- first quarter 1996
February 4, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1995, Christian Light Publications

"Finally! God is getting ready to destroy these troublesome Ninevites. He wants to give them one more opportunity to repent . . . and He wants me to preach the warning to them. What if they repent? I know God; He will hold off judgment, maybe even forgive them entirely. That would never do. Hmmm! If I don't preach to them, they can't repent. If they don't repent, God will destroy them. If God destroys them, that's one less enemy for Israel. I like that! Besides, if they repent it will likely be only because they want to avoid judgment and not because they want to live for God." As I try to guess what might have stirred in Jonah's mind, the craftiness of my own heart readily puts the above words in his heart. Those words strike me as quite reasonable and logical. And my mind would add, "God expects me to use the power of reason which He gave me. I must react reasonably to those situations and opportunities which present themselves to me."

Reason and logic are precious gifts from God. However, they are never to be employed to "explain" disobedience. When God commands, the reasoning and "logic-ing" have all been done and we need waste no time trying to do more! What God commands is never subject to human logic and reason. Never.

That is so obvious in Jonah's case. Can we see it just as readily in our own lives? Let's look at me a little. I have a friend whom I must confront about language, leisure and values. It seems like some verses especially fit my obligation to him. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:19,20). You ought to hear my logic kick in with gems like "He already knows what you would like to tell him" or "The last time you talked to him about the matter he thought you were just over-reacting" or even "He's so sensitive; he'd feel hurt and rejected."

Well, perhaps we would feel more at ease turning our attention back to Jonah! If he indeed followed the line of reasoning stated in the first paragraph, what did he miss? First off, by choosing to disobey God he reduced himself to the same level of life as the Ninevites he so wished judgment on. Secondly, he was so consumed with the idea of judgment and vengeance that he missed God's possibilities with a repentant, redeemed Nineveh. These people would no longer have been foes! Now tell me, what are some flaws you see with the logic I present in the preceding paragraph?

How willing are you to do your share to bring a "foe" back into a right relationship with God? Remember that means you can no longer anticipate judgment against him and maybe even vindication for yourself. Remember that his restoration might mean blessing for him instead of condemnation. And who knows? Perhaps his redemption might mean that the spotlight will shine on him instead of on you. Sometimes we allow the most crass and fleshly inhibitions to send us down to the seaport!

Jesus died and rose to bring redemption, peace and oneness. Shall we let logic and reason interfere with our role in so grand a plan?!

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