Jonah Runs From What He Knows about God [Jonah]

"O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." 4And the LORD said, "Do you do well to be angry?"

It has been awhile since I have picked up the pen (so to speak) and written a devotional blog.  I was waiting to get to some of the Old Testament that we haven't done before and so here we are with Jonah.

Its a story we have all heard.  We may have even wondered if it is a fairy tale or a vision.  Who has ever heard of a man living inside a great fish for three days and living to tell of it?  But it was included in the canon of Scripture because Jesus refers to Jonah as someone who lived in history and his time in the belly of the fish as symbolic of His own upcoming time of three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:39-41).  Therefore we need to understand it as God's truth and that it has significance for us.

So what can we learn about the character of God from Jonah's story?  God is the one who appoints.  He appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah (2:17).  The LORD God appointed a plant to grow (4:7).  God appointed a worm and a scorching wind (4:7). 

He is a God of compassion:
And the LORD said, "You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" (4:10-11)

Jonah acknowledged that He knew God was this kind of God - gracious and merciful.  He said that was why He ran.  He didn't want God to have mercy on his enemies.  Sometimes I am like Jonah.  I run from the truth of God's character.  I pout when He works according to His way and not mine.  I don't have compassion on those who don't know their right hand from their left. 

We praise You, God, that You are consistent with Your nature.  You are a God who appoints according to Your will and a God who has great mercy and compassion.  You even relent  from disaster.  We praise You for Your steadfast love.  Enable us to embrace both Your love and Your appointments.

Verna McCrillis, 9/9/2011