By God’s grace I want to present the incident that happened between Jonah and God as a dance of two friends.
Often, when we examine the story of Jonah’s initial refusal to follow God’s instruction to go and peach to the people of Nineveh, we see a disobedient and selfish servant of God. Yes, this is a fact but, be it as it may, I would like to suggest that we look deeper into the story and view it with a different set of lenses today.
It was my sister-in-law who drew my attention to this fact not too long ago. She asked, “why do we always see Jonah as a selfish man, is it not that he already knew that God would show mercy on the Nineveh people? I responded saying, ‘Hmmm, that’s a good point.’
It is therefore, the KNOWING part of the relationship that I want us to explore today. Not the disobedient part, not the selfish part, but the KNOWING part. It seems to me that Jonah knew God so much in his experience as they had been walking and working together such that he just knew that God would show mercy on Nineveh.
The point then is, how close am I to God and how much of Him do I know? Am I close enough to God that I can tell what He would do next? This is a challenge to all of us – children and servants of God.
Let’s examine the conversation that I refer to as dancing between God and a man who knew Him very well.
Jonah 1 & 2 show the sound of the music and the dance.
If you are close to God, He is ready to dance with you. He is ready to cast you into the waters when you are being stubborn. He is ready to put you in a fish belly and make you do the praying and fasting that you earlier took lightly – when He was instructing you nicely. The only thing I ask is that you should make sure that He is really your friend before you get on the dance floor with Him.
When you confess that He is greater than you, He is ready to make the fish to vomit you.
By the time we get to chapter 3, God now asks him, are you going to go where I sent you? The dance continues.
The heart of this message is chapter 4:1-2 which records, “So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore, I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” Jonah 4:2 NKJV.
Jonah knew as God described Himself to Moses that, “… “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Exo 34:6-7 NKJV
Psalm 25:14 says “the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him”
Do we know the secrets of the Lord? How much of Him do we know? Do we know how merciful and gracious our God is? Do we have a relationship with Him, to the point that He would not destroy us, no matter our displays and shenanigans? I mean, do we know our God to the point where His love won’t throw us away when we are messing up and behaving like children?
Coming back to Jonah for a moment, to think of it, what’s Jonah’s business if God forgave the people of Nineveh? Isn’t it the nature of God to forgive anyway? Isn’t our God One who is willing to repent from destroying us when we repent from our sins? Well, I guess Jonah didn’t get it. He may have been protecting his own integrity, but God was more concerned about saving lives than saving integrity.
The point here is to stress the need for us to know and walk with God to the point that even when we think we are being smart with Him; He would still show us mercy – for He knows that we do not know what we are doing.
- Abraham danced with God, negotiating how many people could be spared at Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33).
- Moses danced with God, pleading that He would not destroy the children of Israel when they carved graven image to worship (Exo. 32:1-14). How much can you or I dance with the Lord in negotiations?
- The story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman was a dance. She knew that Jesus was just pulling her leg (if we can put it in those terms). I wish you and I will know our God well enough that we can engage Him in conversations that end up causing us fulfilment and joy.
- Job knew that his ordeal with God was a dance, saying, “though he slays me, yet will I trust Him“. He knew God so much that He was sure God would not slay him.
I pray that you and I would know our God to a point that He won’t throw us away.
The whole of chapter 4 shows more of the dancing between these 2 friends. Awesome!
He would never let me down /2x
Jesus, Jesus, He will never let me down
Even in the midst of tribulations
He will never let me down
Jesus, Jesus, He will never let me down.