Today’s readings Jonah 4 and Acts 26
In the previous 3 chapters Jonah has experienced:
God’s wrath – when he was deliberately disobedient.
God’s mercy – when he cried out for rescue.
God’s concern for all people who are living without regard for Him.
And NOW we come to Jonah’s absolute rage that God would reach out with forgiveness and restoration to people NOT of Jewish faith when they heard God’s command for repentance. This overwhelms Jonah. He waits to see what God will do to these foreigners! Jonah sees railing against God’s mercy to foreigners as totally justified. BUT God cared so much that he would not allow Jonah to deny His character- ‘gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents form sending calamity‘ v2. Jonah thought he knew better than God and was ‘mad’ when God didn’t see things his way. His complaint reminds us of others in the scriptures who think they know better than God, eg Peter several times, or the workers in Jesus’ parable, who thought it unfair that the agreed wages for those who worked the whole day turned out to be the same as those who worked only 1 hour. (Matthew 20:1-16) God is a generous God.
God’s care for Jonah in this chapter (provision of the plant to give shade from the scorching heat v6) and then the loss of the shade did nothing to turn his mind to thankfulness for God’s compassion- to him or to the people of Nineveh! How much more precious and important is God’s provision of salvation for those who are perishing than that of material comforts, but Jonah doesn’t ‘get’ it.
We can’t help wondering if we too from time to time react negatively about God’s ways of reaching
* other nations and beliefs or
*people who are not as ‘morally pure’ as we are.
Does the book of Jonah encourage us
first to be obedient in caring for such folk and telling the good news.
second waiting expectantly for God to act in mercy and for their turning to Him, even when we don’t understand how.
King Agrippa, having paid his respects to the newly appointed Roman governor ( ch 25) and hearing of some of Festus’ problems – in this case Paul, now invites Paul ‘to speak for yourself’ v1.
Paul, with respect and deference to the King v2&3 then outlines-
his history as a faithful Jew and then, in great detail reviews his conversion and his commitment to making Christ’s truth known to both Jews and to Gentiles.
An appropriate challenge to King Agrippa followed – ‘do you believe the prophets? I know you do.‘ v27 His response, though not a commitment, allows Paul to press home the invitation. v29
Courage, commitment and grace mark Paul’s testimony. May we have that same attitude.
Peter and Elizabeth.