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Lenten Devotion 13 3.11.2020

Jonah 3:4-4:3

4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

4But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’

Whenever you hear about the prophet Jonah, the most common thought is that he was swallowed by a whale and then three days later vomited up onto dry land. Why was he in the whale’s belly? Because God sent him to preach in Nineveh and he hated the Ninevites so much he refused. He thought his refusal brought a curse on him. As he tried to sail away from Nineveh, a great storm came up and he was thrown over the side by the crew when he confessed his disobedience to God. Into and out of the whale he went. Ultimately, Jonah did go to Nineveh and preached … sort of. It was a pretty halfhearted sermon. But God decided not to destroy Nineveh because they repented anyway. Jonah rejoiced, right? No, he did not. He rebuked God for saving the hated Ninevites. Jonah said he would rather die than see the Ninevites saved.

Wow.

Have you ever hoped that someone would not be blessed by God just because you did not like them? I remember when my daughter played in softball tournaments. Whenever her team lost, she would root against the team that beat them in the next round. I told her that was pretty silly. “Don’t you want the team that beat you to win? That makes you look like a better team than losing to a team that immediately loses in the next round.” Don’t we as Christians want the people who look down on us to become reconciled to God? That makes us look more like Jesus. Jesus blessed been those who nailed him to a cross. Shouldn’t we do that, too? It invites people to be like Jesus. The lesson from Jonah is that God is sovereign and saves who God wants to save – like us. It is not for us to decide. Worth thinking about in Lent.




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