ENTRY 1256 | October
I started this thread I had no idea how much there was to say about
it. Two last thoughts deserve mention, Jonah's preference of justice
to mercy and God's perfect justice.
mentioned the prophet Jonah in the second entry in this thread as
an example of an Old Testament character who sometimes obeyed God
but other times did not. Of course to put a fine point on it, all
followers of God obey Him more readily in some cases and not so readily
in others; even Moses tried to resist God's commands on several occasions
in the biblical record, and in one terrible instance, King Davidthe
apple of God's eyehad a great deal of repenting to do for putting
his own will above God's. But a few of His followers, including Jonah,
are especially famous for their resistance to God's will. God told
Jonah to warn Ninevah that He was going to punish them for their evil
ways if they did not repent.
Jonah seems to have had the attitude that what makes being a prophet
worthwhile is declaring God's judgment, wrath, and punishment, not
second chances. Instead of heading to the city of Ninevah to fulfill
his assignment, he got in a boat headed in the opposite direction.
When the boat got into such harsh weather that it was close to capsizing,
he admitted to the captain that the storm was God's attempt to get
Jonah to obey Him and prophesy in Ninevah in time to get the city
spared. The boat crew threw Jonah overboard, which he probably took
as a sign that he wasn't going to be required to preach to Ninevah
after all. But God had something else in store; he had a whale (Jesus
calls it a whale, not a big fish) swallow Jonah and throw him up on
the shore nearest Ninevah. So still reluctantly, Jonah passed through
the city streets preaching repent. And despite the lack of enthusiasm
and conviction, his audience repented; Ninevah was saved. And still
Jonah resented God's mercy toward the Ninevites. He sulked; he must
have really had a grudge against Ninevah, but why he disliked it so
much is not part of the record, which tells me that God is more interested
in whether we obey in spirit as well as in deed than our reasons or
excuses for not doing so.
preference to God's carrying out what he considered justice against
his or Israel's enemies aligns well with the cursing Psalms discussed
in the previous installment. The Old Testament Israel seems to have
had a fixation on God's being a judge in temporal affairs, failing
to realize that if He chose that role they would also feel His wrath
as He would have a lot of shortcomings to charge them with. But getting
Him to fight their battles was easier than fighting on their own behalf.
of the times in these reflections on the hard passages in the Old
Testament, which always revolve around God judging, when I have said
that He was not about justice or being a judge, I've qualified that
by adding "among us" or "as we understand justice humanly."
But of course in the larger sense, God is our judge, not between
us and our neighbors, but between us and Him. We will face a day of
judgment in which He will mete out His "sentence" on each
of us. In some cases, it will be "well done, faithful servant,"
but more often it will be "depart from me, you worker of iniquity;
I never knew you." And in this God's judgment is perfect because
in everything, He is perfect. And as He told us through Jesus' words,
because He is perfect we must also be perfect to be admitted into
His perfect heavenly kingdom (Matthew 5:48). Any imperfection must
be burned off in the Refiner's fire. Of course this perfection is
beyond our grasp; it is only through our adoption through the work
of Christ that we can hope to attain it.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy