Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Wideness Of God's Mercy

"Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it." Jonah 1:2

       At the court of Jeroboam the Second, Jonah prophesied success against Syria, and his prediction was fulfilled, for Jeroboam recovered Damascus and Hamath and restored the borders of Israel. The word of God now came to Jonah to go against the great city of Nineveh and pronounce its doom, unless it repented of its sins. The prophet was in an evil case. His patriotism forbade him to reach out a hand or foot to serve that great nation which would one day swallow up his own people, while his fear of God was a strong motive in his breast to obey. Before his eyes passed a vision of the time when the armies of Asshur and the fierce warriors of Chaldaea would swoop down from the northern plains upon that little nation and carry them away captive, planting the deserted villages and lands of Samaria with the people of Arva and Cutha and Sippara. These strange people with their strange gods would hold their riots in the halls that were once blest, while the Hebrews would be placed in'Halah and Habor, cities by the river Gozan, separated from all they held dear, and surrounded by a proud idolatrous race. Such a night mare hovered over Jonah, and compelled him to fly far from his homeland. In Balaam we have the case of a prophet who wished to carry a message contrary to the will of God. Here we have the instance of a prophet who wished to avoid performing a duty the Lord had laid upon him. In the long run, conscience proved stronger than fear or patriotism. But the battle was fiercely contested and protracted within the prophet's soul. Loth to convey a message that might prove the salvation of his national foes, he took ship for Tarshish, a port in Spain, with Phoenician merchants. But his purpose was frustrated by the storm, and he was cast into the waters, and then from the depths of Sheol he cried with a bitter cry to Jehovah to save him from his peril. The Lord had mercy upon him, and, after an experience which we need not discuss now, he was cast out upon the shore. There, as he lay helpless on the beach, the word of the Lord came to him and bade him hasten to Nineveh and deliver his message.
       The original opportunity indeed was now gone. The prophet had lost the honor of at once obeying the Divine commands; he had tasted the agony implied in preferring his own inclinations to the will of God. But God had brought good out of evil, had taught him the beauty of repentance and the greatness of His mercy. And, surest proof of all that he was quite forgiven, the Divine Spirit had come back, the great impulse arose, which formerly he had fought against and beaten down, " Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it." With a heart purified by repentance and softened by pardon, Jonah was now able to enter into the mind of God, to comprehend the feelings with which He looked down on a vast community of human beings who had forgotten His name and His nature. He him self had experienced the unfathomable pity that was in the Divine heart, God's earnest desire to show mercy, His unwillingness that any should perish. He had discovered that the heathen were not necessarily destitute of every human virtue, and that they were not completely averse to the worship of the true God. So wonderful indeed are God's ways of dealing with the hearts of men that Jonah was probably a fitter messenger to Nineveh after his attempted flight than he had been before. By our very failures, God educates us to do His will.  C. H. Gomill, The Prophets of Israel 

Focus Your Thinking & Lather up with a bit of SOAP:
Scripture: "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it." Jonah 1:2
Observation: What strikes me the most about the life of Jonah is not this old prophet's disloyalty. Most of us are disloyal to God before we are trained to be otherwise. What strikes me the most about the journey of Jonah is that God doesn't let Jonah abandon what is best or right for him to do concerning the ministry he has been called to. God's loyalty to Jonah's calling is tenacious, to say the least. He doesn't let Jonah resist to the point of failure, he guides him and then rescues Jonah's calling when all seems to be impossible, for nothing is impossible for God. 
Application: Complaining doesn't prevent God from accomplishing His will and His will is to save us from our own depravity! God is the master fisherman.  
Prayer: Dear Lord, when I feel like fleeing or giving up, pull me back and create in me a tenacious spirit. Amen.

Plastic sleeves make tipping in a breeze with a bit of washi tape!
The sea horse is copper leaf on it's backside.
Focus On Illustrating & Illuminating The Scripture:
       I chose to use some paper cut-outs of a sperm whale, sea horse and star fish to illustrate my scripture. Thread a small fine needle and trap your own select sea creatures between a plastic sleeve. I chose to write out the scripture on transparent vellum and sandwich it between the sleeve as well. The page is double sided and is tipped between the pages of my Creative Bible with the use of some decorative washi tape. With this method you may avoid covering text and give paper items some protection from wear and tear.

Focus On Listening
MercyMe performs "Even If"

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