This will be the first of several devotions from pastoral resident Alex looking at the book of Jonah.
We tend to look at the book of Jonah as a historical satire, but I think it would do us well to read it again outside of the preschool classroom.
Jonah is the story of the rogue prophet who literally fails every single assignment given to him. God says “Go east.” Jonah goes west. God says “Go preach.” Jonah falls asleep in a boat. God saves lost people. Jonah pouts. It is one sad joke after another.
As you read through the book in one sitting, you might be inclined to judge Jonah for his hard-heartedness and disobedience to God and even laugh at him a bit. But as the laughter dies out, the reader is hooked by the reality that you and I are just like Jonah. This book was written in about 476 BC and yes, it applies to you this morning, sitting in your chair reading at your computer or on your phone.
So before we even get into the text, I want to challenge you to think about a few questions.
1. Are you tempted to read the Bible as a bunch of stories with moralistic lessons that say “do this” and “don’t do that”?
I grew up thinking that was the big idea of the Bible. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible isn’t full of good guys and bad guys. Rather, the Bible teaches us that there are no good guys, only bad guys and Jesus is the only good guy. Jonah will prove this over and over.
2. What about the nations of the earth?
When you think of God’s kingdom, is his kingdom bigger than your experience of it? Could the kingdom of God be bigger than your church? This book speaks to God’s ever-expanding kingdom, that is multi-national, as he wants his glory spread throughout literally the whole earth! Did you know that their are over 8,000 languages that will be represented in heaven around the throne of Jesus? In the book of Jonah, God shows his love for all the nations of the earth!
3. When you think of the grace of God, do you think his grace can be limited, that it can be capped off at a certain point?
How far is God willing to go to love his enemies? Do you really believe that God can save anyone under the sun? You see, we are tempted to think that it’s one thing for God to have grace on good, church-going, generous folks. It’s another to have grace on the most evil people in the history of the world. The book of Jonah speaks God’s truth to this as well.