I am Jonah, [Self Awareness]

1 “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

 4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

Jonah 4:1-4, NIV 

Jonah is the very essence of the modern Christian who prefers God to be just like them (only more so.)  Just like Jonah we can be:

  1. unbelieving,
  2. unaccepting and
  3. unforgiving.

When you mix the three, (in a kind of “Jonah smoothie”) you will have something quite religious– but very toxic.  A toxicity that normally should require protective clothing and a quarantine.

Jonah has a sense of who God really is.  But, he disagrees.  In his eyes, God is way too excessive, way too elaborate in His love.  He makes way too many possibilities for forgiveness.  It drives him nuts, to serve a God that is way too liberal with His love.  It seems to push Jonah to try to readjust the love of God on his own.

In the eyes of Mr. Jonah, he simply must modify the “way of salvation.”  In his way of thinking, he can’t let God, be wholly God.  Jonah simply must step in, and dial back the real tendency of God to venture into His excessive and foolish love.  He must be thinking that what God is doing is way too outrageous, and far too far for human reasoning.

Amazingly, Jonah knows God deeply.  He knows, and he is afflicted by the grace that God has for these Ninevites.  Jonah doesn’t get vague, rather he gets specific.  He becomes more aware.  Verse 2 states Jonah’s deep awareness that God is simply too good for people, He is far too rich and generous with the behavior of people who live way too loose.

Since God seems so excessive we feel we must adjust Him.

It seems we must work to make Him more acceptable, and to redefine Him into a more focused kind of religious faith.  Something that makes sense to us His followers.  Something in the way the World perceives Him.  It so seems that this is a job that almost every believer jumps at. (I vote to send God to “rehab.”) :-)

But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”  The Lord speaks specifically to Jonah.  He asks a question, which is a very good idea, when confronting foolish thinking.  “Have you any right?”  This question reverberates and echos through the corridors inside our hearts.  It seems our right doesn’t extend that far.  Being “angry” with God (and the way He does things,) is never an acceptable way of thinking.

Simply put, you have no right.  You have nothing.  There isn’t any allowance or prerogative given, that allows you to alter and adjust the way God wants His reputation and character to be made public.  Sorry, you can’t “airbrush” Him to meet the perceived ideas of the mass population.  He will not allow you to “photoshop” His face or presence, to make His love more presentable.

Simply understood and easily stated, “We have no right.”

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On Life Support

 untitled (2)And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Ezekiel 11:19-21, NLT

This is one of those complex portions of God’s scripture where several ideas overlap. In our English translation, we read compound sentences and knotty syntax. But the thoughts are God’s, and therefore significant. Without these truths though, I believe that we can quickly slip into a ‘comatose’ condition.

First we must consider who is involved.

  1. God [speaking through the prophet] declares His intentions.
  2. His repentant people [Israel] are acted upon.
  3. But there is a third bunch, those unrepentant ones who have decided within themselves that they will stick with their idols.

God is very decisive by this point. The prophetic ministry was supposed to work, many prophets and teachers have been sent out. But with very limited success. If we pick one out, it would have to be Hosea; his ministry was dramatic– but ultimately fruitless. The only real successful prophet was Jonah– preaching to Ninevah, ironically a pagan people. But God’s own people are living in flagrant sin. They remain untouched. They’ve chosen to remain in their sinful condition.

A solid and clear promise has been given. An interior work has been promised by God, if they can only show a minute sense of life. The nation is on “life support.” The prophets attend to the needs before them. They are very far from the virile and robust nation– they are in the ICU and are showing only scanty signs of life.

This promise is that a special work will be done inside. They will become both tender and responsive again. A new receptivity and awareness will come into being. The ability to obey will ignite within. We call this “revival.” Revivalists throughout history have carried this to every generation.

As I scan over my Christian life of more than 30 years, I simply see my own “cycles” of sin and revival. I wish I could have been more consistent. But I cling to the faithfulness of God. He stays true even when I’m not. He has promised me. I’ll take Him at His word.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:6, NLT

God will do what He can, His efforts are heroic. He fully intends to change us— if we’re only willing.

“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.” 

Charles Finney

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