He (God) loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
As promised in my last write up, I am following up on my first article on the book of Jonah. This outline is not exhaustive. However, they are the points that spoke to me when I read the book of Jonah. I will go ahead to give a breakdown of my thoughts herein.
- The Mercifulness of God — Demonstrated in how God dealt with Jonah, even after he blatantly disobeyed, God did not strike him down with thunder. He stopped him on his tracks just as He did for Balaam, with a donkey. God also did show mercy to Nineveh, He gave them a chance to repent. Thankfully he did and the judgement of God was suspended. You see, the Lord is fair and just and He does his best to ensure that everyone is given a chance to re-connect with Him.
- A False Prophet — Jonah felt this is what people will think of him and it made Jonah angry with God. His prophecy on Nineveh did not come to pass. Jonah was bothered about what people will think about him but remember these people barely knew him. I mean, think of it, he reluctantly came on this errand and God seems not to allow Jonah’s prophecy of doom in the land to come to pass. Jonah even told God this: “O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” You see, when our ego gets into the way, it obstructs God’s best for us and for others. Do remember that our lives matter in the grand the plan of God. Bringing our ego into the equation is not good for everyone.
- A Man That Knows God — It was undeniable that Jonah knew God. He heard God clearly in Chapter 1. Since he knew God, he knew the solution to the tempest that nearly claimed the lives of his co-passengers. He knew what to do at every moment of the book. But will he do it? Let’s come to ourselves. Will we do what God has told us to do? Will you do it when it is inconvenient? When you do it when it clashes with your ambitions? Will you?
- The Fruit of Repentance — Genuine repentance invokes the mercy of God. When man returns to God, as the prodigal son did, the Father receives them. Even if your sins are horrible and gross, the Father has what it takes to receive you and accept you back as His own. No genuine repentance goes unnoticed in God’s presence and when the people of Nineveh genuinely repented, God had no choice than to follow His nature and principles … forgive them.
- Lying Vanities — Varnished Vanishing Vanity. I like that phrase. It represents what Jonah 2:8 says: “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” This prayer was said by Jonah when he was at his lowest ebb, in the belly of the fish. Most times, it takes adversity to know what is real and important. Jonah trusted his ways and decisions and so he went his way and abandoned God’s way. When all is well, it is easy to think you are in control. The words of Jeremiah, such as, it is not in man to direct his path, sound like fairy tales. When the tide is up, it is hard to know who is swimming without clothes. But when the ebb sets in, we are reduced to our bare and we see and evaluate things clearly. Before COVD-19, some countries were known for their magnificent health care, which in human terms were fantastic. However, the system did not factor a large number of people being sick at the same time (it is near impossible to plan for all eventualities). In times like things, I clinch on the magnificent words of Jesus: “Deliver us from evil.” In as much as we have excellent stuff in life, may they not make us independent from God. Those stuff, at their best, are varnished vanishing vanities. They excite but do not satisfy. Vanishing vanities at their best.
- Deliberate Disobedience — “…go to Nineveh….but Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish ….and went down to Joppa”. The disobedience of Jonah was deliberate. He could not say he did not hear from God on the matter. Jonah, like most of us, decided to do what suits him: “Let me go to another land and by the time I am back, God would have forgotten”. Unfortunately, the God we serve neither sleep nor slumber; both literally and figuratively. The outcomes of deliberate disobedience are usually far-reaching. Some innocent folks nearly got drowned based on one man’s sin. This was little compared to the sufferings of the nation of Israel and the household of David when David deliberately disobeyed God (conducting the census, killing Uriah and the subsequent cover-up). Deliberate disobedience is as good as wagging a finger at God or living your life as if God does not have a say in it.
- Entitlement Exposed — In Chapter 4, Jonah was saved from the scourging heat by the shade of a gourd. The Lord destroyed the gourd and Jonah complained. Then God asked him why he complained. He gave the Lord a long sermon but God showed him the state of his heart. “You are concerned about a vine that you did not plant or take care of, a vine that grew up in one night and died the next. In that city of Nineveh, there are more than a hundred twenty thousand people who cannot tell right from wrong, and many cattle are also there. Don’t you think I should be concerned about that big city?” The analogy that God gave Jonah show how entitled he feels. You are bothered about what concerns you but the destruction of others does not bother you. Does this look like you and me?
- A Second Time — The word of God to Jonah came in Chapter 1 and also in Chapter 3. It was the same word — go to Nineveh and inform them of the impending doom. This shows how far God will go to save us. Again and again, he came to Jonah. God really does love people. No lies too extensive, no mountain too high, no valley too deep for God to reach out to us. There is (sometimes) a second time. There is sometimes a second chance. God goes all the way. This is proven in the coming of the only son of God to redeem humanity.
- The Irresponsibility of Responsible People — Jonah was a prophet, a supposed responsible person in the books of God. However, in the matter of Nineveh, Jonah was irresponsible. The lives of people were in his hands, the fate of a nation was on him to decide. It is okay for irresponsible people to act irresponsibly, but when responsible fellas join them, then expect chaos. Entropy of the highest order reins in. When God entrusts you with children, students, citizens, it is your responsibility to do what is right no matter how you would look or appear. Do your part and leave the rest to God. Lay hands on the sick, pray for the nation, prophesy if need be. Do not act irresponsibly. When trust is involved, do not betray it. When parents entrust their girls to you, please take care of them. When the company entrusts you with cash, handle it when. When God gives you a prophecy, there is no humility in not giving out that word. The irresponsibility of responsible people makes society move backwards.
- The Role of The Saint in Nation Building — When the words of destruction came unto Nineveh, they repented. So who showed them how to repent? My guess was that there were people who knew God in the city. They were believers and people who knew God. They lead the people of the city into acts of repentance. “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” Our take from here is that believers have a role in nation-building. Without their intervention here, the city could have been destroyed. Most times believers are coaxed into doing other things because “we cannot just pray”. Please keep praying and believing. That is your part to play. Play it well. Do not be a social commentator when you should be leading folks into repentance.
One of the beauties of the civil rights was that while Martin Luther King Jnr. was organising marches in the streets of America, Thurgood Marshall was arguing and winning the cases in court. Everyone played their part. Are you playing your part as a believer in nation-building? Selah!
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