I Knew It!

The book of Jonah, a delightful four-chapter drama, ends with the prophet Jonah whining at God, I knew it!  I knew it, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” The test of a prophet was that his prophecy had to come true.  If not, it could mean the prophet’s death.

          In chapter 1, God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and pronounce God’s impending judgment. Jonah climbs on a ship and goes the opposite direction.  How many times do we know what we are supposed to do but we do the opposite.  Need we mention the missing cookies that never make it to the cookie jar?  Remember the “everyone’s doing it” argument to justify partying, sex, alcohol, or whatever.  Somehow we think God is asleep and our want must be met.  God would not want us to be unhappy, right!  Like Jonah we go in the wrong direction.

         In chapter 2, Jonah meets a storm, confesses his sin and is thrown overboard.  He comes to the point of death and cries out to God for help.  When our sin ends in disaster we must choose between humbling ourselves and admitting God was right or living in cynicism.  Jonah humbles himself and goes to Nineveh. 

         Jonah walks through the town and pronounces God’s impending judgment.  To Jonah’s embarrassment, the great city, including the king, repents and wears sackcloth.  How easy it is to convince ourselves that we are no longer worthy because of our past.  One of the great subplots of our epic story is how God takes unlikely people and works with them even after failure.  God worked with Abraham after pretending to be Sarah’s brother.  God works with Jacob even after deceiving his brother of his birthright.  God works with Moses after murder.  God works with David after adultery.  God worked with Peter after his denial. God is willing to work with us after our sin, as long as we humble ourselves and return to him.

         Chapter 4 Jonah pouts and we laugh.  God forgives.  Jonah sits on a hill watching and says, “I knew it.”  God grows a vine to cover Jonah even as he pouts and yells at God.  Then God sends a worm that kills the vine.  God and Jonah have it out.  God asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  Jonah responds, “Yes, I’m angry enough to die!” God points out that Jonah is upset about the vine that grew in a night and died in a day and yet God has compassion on the people he created and who repented.  God can handle our sin and God can handle our grumps.  That is a story worth reading in the Bible and remembering.  God is willing to forgive us and his shoulders are broad.  We can duke it out with him.  Blessings.

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