False peace and the Storm

The story of Jonah is both beautiful and complex. There are described the stages of Jonah’s growth into a person that understands God’s plan and willingly participates in it. I want to focus today on a particular event that probably hasn’t gotten much attention.

Jonah got an assignment from God to go to Nineveh the capital city of the empire he hated. He had a message to deliver, warning them on the coming judgment of God if they didn’t repent. He chose not to do God’s will. He went in the opposite direction, towards Spain. He didn’t just refuse, and stay where he was, but wanted to let God know that he was going further from God’s assignment.

Let’s stop here for a moment. Jonah didn’t become atheist or agnostic. He just chose to do what he wanted to do. He just refused to do an assignment. Some of us would see Jonah’s refusal and say: “It’s not the worst to do, but Jonah could do better”. Most of us are not well informed on the dangers of the sins of omission, we focus on avoiding the “sins of commission” – the “don’t”, but are often careless on the “do’s”. Jonah felt that he has the right to make a choice, even when that choice avoided God’s plan to be accomplished.

Jonah found a ship going in his direction and a ticket. I’m sure he might have been thinking: “It’s not so bad. If God really was serious about doing this mission, he would have stopped me.” In our time we might have been thinking that when it is God’s will, doors will be open and if not, the doors will be closed. So, finding a ticket on the right ship looks like a blessing. I’m sure that all the stress that Jonah had with himself while struggling to do or not what God said, he was relieved when all was going well. He was so relieved that he fell into a deep sleep, careless and peaceful.

But the story didn’t end there. It was not the happy ending that we all like to hear. God caused a storm and troubled very much the ship’s existence. The captain and his crew understood that their lives were in danger, so they threw all the cargo into the sea. Money is gone, all they cared about now was to stay alive. They started praying to all their gods, but the storm was going worse. They understood gods were angry with one of them. And when they awoke Jonah, they cast a lot to understand who is to be blamed. The lot fell on Jonah, who was not troubled in his disobedience towards God. He was so stubborn, that he didn’t show any sign of repentance. He just said to them, throw me in the waters as I’m the problem. Reluctantly they did it and the storm stopped, and they were both afraid and worshipful towards this God of Jonah.

My question today is why God didn’t stop Jonah prior to booking his ticket. That would have saved time and the cargo. God knows why He chooses to do it in that way. But we can think about Jonah’s actions as we might see ourselves in Jonah’s shoes sometimes. We should think that in times where we go on the contrary of what God has said in His word or prophetically to us individually, we might experience a temporary peace that will give us a false impression that all is going to be alright. We even like to rehearse songs like:” Everything is going to be alright” as we wish that nothing bad will happen to us or people around us, as we do what we want in our way.

I suppose that we should learn from so many biblical stories- if we don’t have any story from our own life. We must remember that God allowed His people to make wrong decisions. Even when they thought God didn’t care or even approve it, through his real prophets he warned His people on the consequences of their choices. It was not unusual that kings and people chose to believe prophets of their own preference, those who say carefully what the king would agree, support, and find delight.

We should learn to trust the Scriptures’ guidance and the leading of the Holy Spirit and not to depend on our own feelings or look for peaceful confirmations from outward elements. Not every open door is a blessing from the Lord, and we should learn to better obey God with all our intentions and will.

The article was published first on Downsview Church blog.

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