"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Jonah 4:2 (b)
"Your arms are too short/to box with God" Kid Rock
I am almost finished with the Old Testement. It has taken me almost a year to get through it, I have tried to read at least two or three days a week, but more often then not I have gone for week or two stretches and not dipped into the Word at all. Las Sunday was an exception. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the Spring had officially sprung. So, I sat out on the porch and read the word. I read Jonah. If you had put a gun to my head and asked me who Jonah was I would of said he was a character in the Old Testement (which he is) and if you had asked me "what book is Jonah located?" I couldn't of told you. I most certainly couldn't of told you that Jonah was actually a small book at the end of the OT. I guess I always just assumed he was a character in one of the other books. That is all irrelevant, though.
I read Jonah and I read the above quote and was amazed. How many times have you said (or heard someone else say) that God was angry god, who hated them and that as why they were running from Him. Or that were afraid God was going to punish them because of such and such and this and that? I'll raise my hand on both counts and I'll go so far as to admit that I've probably said those exact statements a few times, but then I read that quote and just stopped. I had to wrap my brain around it. Jonah ran away from God because he KNEW that god was compassionate and just! God came to Jonah and told him to go to Ninevah (a city) and prophesy (preach) the populace there and tell them that God was upset and was planning to do away with them. This didn't sit too well with Jonah so he up and left, hopped a boat heading the other way and settle in for a night's sleep. And, as per usual, God had other plans. Long story short: God got Jonah off the boat and into the belly of a large fish (not necessarily a whale, mind you) and held him for three days in the belly of said fish (hmmm, discussion of the resurection any one?) Jonah got the message and went to Ninevah gave them God's message and then settled into watch the heavenly wrath befall the Ninevites. He was sorely disappointed. The Ninevites turned their evil ways and became Godfearin folk. Jonah was not happy. So, called God out and complained. God listened and then retorted. Then Jonah responded with this:"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Wow, talk about faith, huh? He was upset because he knew EXACTLY what would happen.
Jonah went the other way because... God was compassionate. God IS compassionate. If He wasn't compassionate would he have sent his son Jesus Christ to take our place on the cross? No. If He wasn't compassionate would He of allowed Jesus to rise from the dead and defeat death and Satan? No. If God wasn't compassionate would Jesus of told us that "there are many rooms" for us in Heaven? No.
Those two lines above have been rolling around in my head all week. The Jonah one for obvious reasons, but the Kid Rock one for others. The Kid Rock quote really speaks to me about not only Jonah's attitude about God and man, but our ideas about man and God. How many times have I taken God on in a fight? How many times have I taken a swing at God and gotten nothing but thin air, spun around on my feet and fallen flat on my butt only to have Him reach down, grab me by the hand, stand me up and let me take another swing?