Contend Earnestly: Jonah, Pt. 6 - A Gracious Calling

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jonah, Pt. 6 - A Gracious Calling

When we last saw Jonah, the Lord brought him to a proper perspective of what he was called to do. At the end of chapter 2, Jonah recognizes that those who "regard vain idols" have cut themselves off from mercy, that he would pay his vow as a prophet, and that YHWH is the one who brings about (or withholds) salvation. Now he has been humbled, and the fish vomits him onto dry land according to the command of the LORD. However, what we read next is truly amazing:

"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."

This is very similar to the word of the Lord in chapter one, verse 2. "Arise, go, cry!". But what we should take note of is that the word came to Jonah a second time at all. He is by no means indispensable. The Lord does not need Jonah to carry out His work. Another prophet could have been called. Or, we also recall the words of Jesus in Luke 19:40 when the Pharisees were trying to silence the crowds from giving Him praise that is due His name:

"I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"

God will be praised, and His chosen people will be saved! Even in spite of defiant prophets. But, by God's gracious call, He allowed Jonah a second chance to be a part of His work. "The word of the Lord came a second time".

This second word is parallel to the first in chapter one verse two. However, there is an added emphasis. "(P)roclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you." What an important truth this is. The prophet is God's chosen man. The prophet is responsible to take the message to those who need to hear. But be very clear that the prophet cannot speak on his own initiative. He has one message, and that is to faithfully repeat only what he hears from the Lord. Art Azurdia in his series on the book of Jonah stated that the prophet is to speak the speech that the Lord has given him. To say the words that have been spoken to him. To proclaim the proclamation that the Lord will tell, and nothing else. We as teachers and preachers today do not hear the audible voice of God, but we have the same calling. We are to proclaim His written word (2 Tim 4:1-2), and His word alone! Steve Lawson commented that the sooner the preacher gets to the text when he ascends into the pulpit the safer he will be. He then, in essence, draws a box around the text of Scripture and says "I will not depart from this word". How much of the church has lost the sense of this sobering responsibility. Recall the words of James:

"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."

We are representatives of the King of Kings, and we dare not misrepresent His word. For in doing so, we will misrepresent Him (Ps 138:2). John Knox, when he was called to preach, closed himself in his room and wept for fear over the responsibility of preaching. We need to cultivate a healthy fear to rightly divide the truth (2 Tim 2:15).

In this command, we so both the grace of God, and Jonah's serious call and responsibility. Then we come to verse three and we read the reaction we have been waiting for:

"So Jonah arose..."

Think of all the misery that Jonah could have avoided if he had obeyed the first call to go. If he had been faithful, 1:3-3:2 would have never been experienced. Do we see repentance here in Jonah? We had a great discussion about this on a previous comment section. I believer we see the answer to this in chapter 4. But until then, may we as preachers and teachers be faithful to the word. May we respond to God's prompting the first time, every time. Jonah arises, goes, and cries out. We will see the content of his message in the next installment.


Seth McBee said...

we see this same idea when God tells Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:9,

I will put my words in your mouth.

We better hope that when we teach and preach that the Lord is putting His words in our mouths or we are babbling barbarians without a cause.

andy said...

Thank you again for your great comments from Jonah. I certainly agree! I see in these few verses the need to keep readjusting my paradigm. I keep slipping into a view of my Christian life that puts my desires, my interests, my plans and agenda for God ahead of me. We are reminded in these verses of a different paradigm. God's call on Jonah had nothing at all to do with Jonah's interests, or personal desires, plans, or agendas. On a list of "1000 things I want to accomplish for Yahweh" Ninevites and the Asyrians would have been nowhere to be found on Jonah's list. God called Jonah to do His will, His plan, His agenda. I so often think, wrongly so, that God will call me to do what is on my personal list of desires for God. That may well be the case, but then again, He may well call me to do something that I in no way want to do, that I have no desire or interest in, and that I might even have a great personal aversion to....but it is His will, His agenda, and that is to be enough for me. No matter the call, no matter the duty, the people, the location, by His grace may I as well, "arise and go".


Anonymous said...


How did you change your header to read like it does with the image on it? It looks good.

Justin Evans said...

Andy, well said, and a good perspective/illustration of Jonah's priorities. I think of what A.W. Tozer said in that we often get our approach to ministry backwards. We start a project and then ask God to bless it. He suggested that we seek the Lord's wisdom in prayer first and then once we are led to do something, we can proceed knowing that God will bless it.

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