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GOD’S WORD FOR JULY 15 ~ ~ Jonah 2:9 ~ ~ “But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving, that which I vowed, I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.”

The story is in the Book of Jonah, where God again used the things of His creation to teach His people lessons.

This is part of the prayer that Jonah prayed when he was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish. The problem is, it apparently was just words. In the first place, he didn’t want to obey God and speak to the city of Nineveh because of his pride. He knew they would repent, so God wouldn’t punish them, and he’d look like a fool and a liar. So, he said pretty words because he was, to understate, in a mess!!! But he was far from repentance.

The fish scooping him up was just the beginning of the Creator God using His creation and creatures to show Jonah his error. After the prayer, God told the fish to spit him out on shore. Talk about humiliating, and triumphant at the same time!!!!

So, the Lord again told Him to go to Nineveh. His mind was still made up against it. He hadn’t changed a bit for his trip at sea in tight quarters.

But, he reluctantly did it, and walked all day yelling as loud as he could that they should repent or be destroyed–(no doubt secretly hoping for the latter), and, sure enough, the entire city of almost a million people (estimated) repented in sackcloth!!!!!

“Sure, of course, yeah, just what I thought!”, he probably muttered angrily,

So He asked God to take his life, because, as he put it, “I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” Is it me, or can you just hear the sarcasm in that declaration from an angry man?

God said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” In other words, like we tell pouting children: “Sit there and think about it…..why are you REALLY angry?” No answer from the pouting prophet, as he built a make shift shade shelter on a hill so he could watch what happened in the city—-just in case God does blow ’em up!!!! It was hot—real hot—and his shelter wasn’t much, but he had to see what would happen. Besides, he was too angry to do anything else.

His compassionate God summoned one of His creation, a large plant, to grow quickly and be a cover for shade for Jonah, even in his pouting. Jonah was happy about that, but it doesn’t say that he relented of his anger nor thanked the Lord for it. So at dawn the next day, God used another creature, a worm, to eat the plant, and by the time the sun was hot, the plant had withered and was gone. Jonah felt sorry for himself more than ever now. Why was God punishing him with one thing after another? Anger was making him hotter, but there was no repentance.

Now, with the tremendous heat, and very little shelter without the plant, Jonah was beginning to faint, and he again begged the Lord to kill him. But His Lord loved him too much to give in to him. He had to conquer this pride, self pity, and anger against the Lord.

He asked him: “Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?”

Jonah shot back~ ~ “I HAVE good reason to be angry, even to death.”

But His gracious God calmly and lovingly responded: You had compassion on the plant which you did not work for and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, a great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as animals?”

He is explaining to Jonah that in this huge city, there are about 120,000 innocent children, (right and left hand) and innocent animals, who have not sinned against God. If the people of Nineveh hadn’t repented, all these would suffer and die also. He could have said, “It’s not just about the sinners, Jonah. What about the innocent ones? You pout because I killed a plant, but it’s not the plant you’re concerned about. It’s you.

It’s because the plant helped YOU. When it doesn’t benefit you, you don’t care about others.

The Word doesn’t tell us any more. The book stops at the speech from God. I’m thinking God wants us to finish it………..what situations could we have in our lives where we are only thinking of how the event affects us? Let’s not be Jonah.

Heavenly Father, please help us to see Your lesson in this well-known story. Help us to see the depth of it, and to see ourselves in Jonah. Help us to listen to You in our lives knowing that You speak through events, animals, plants, people, weather, and all of creation, as well as directly to our hearts in response to Your Word. We praise You for You great love and mercy in our lives and in the Perfect Plan of Salvation, while we intercede for those around us to see that great plan in their lives. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, and by His authority we approach the throne and ask these things. Amen.

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