THE JONAH COMPLEX (Do We Have It?) Jonah Chapters 1-4

Jonah is a familiar character from our childhood Bible stories.  We remember him because the story says, “he was swallowed by a big fish (1:17).   He spent three (3) days inside the fish.  I’ve given little or no thought to Jonah until recently, and I’ve been bombarded with references to Jonah everywhere, it seems, for about a month.

Now that we’re all grown-up and our Biblical knowledge is increasing with continued study, let’s revisit Jonah in a brief study that I call, “The Jonah Complex”.

Like most ministers/prophets, Jonah received “the Call” from God.  You’d think that Jonah would be excited to be used by God to preach, however, he was called to preach to the Ninevehites.  God told him specifically, Go to the great city and preach against it, because its’ wickedness has come up before me.”(Jonah 1:2)

Because Jonah, knew of Nineveh’s reputation (3:3) he “ran away from the Lord…”.The prophet Nahum (Nahum 3:1) refers to Nineveh as “the city of blood.” NIV footnote:  “City of blood –Nineveh’s bloody massacres of her conquered rivals were well-known. Nineveh was never without victims.  The Assyrians were noted for their ruthlessness, brutality, and terrible atrocities.  Many of their victims were beheaded, impaled or burned. (3:3) piles of dead. The Assyrian King Shalmaneser III boasted of erecting a pyramid of chopped-off heads in front of an enemy’s city.  Other Assyrian kings stacked corpses like cordwood by the gates of defeated cities.  Nahum’s description of the cruel Assyrians is apropos”. Are we getting a sense of why Jonah disliked the people of Nineveh?

Jonah’s speedy exit on a ship headed for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) shows us that he had no intention of obeying God.   This blatant disobedience cost him his freedom, could have angered God, and put others in harm’s way.  “Why”?  We aren’t told the answer until chapter 4:1-3: “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.  He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? This is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity”. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live”.

Is Jonah’s complex very common today? We are called to preach the Word to bring others to salvation.  The apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 1:14-16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”  Do we take it upon ourselves to decide who should be saved or even more challenging, who should be restored after that person has fallen into sin; repented, and is striving to live a better life?  Jonah was a self-appointed judge, jury, jailer, and executioner of the people of Nineveh. God only asked him to: “go” and “preach” (1:2).   Jonah also wanted to see what would happen to Nineveh (4:5).  He seems to want God’s wrath to ran down on that city.  In his anger, Jonah endangered his life (4:8).

God confronted Jonah because he demonstrated more concern about a plant than the “hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left (4:11)”in Nineveh. Jonah could not show less compassion to the people he was commissioned to preach to.  He showed the contempt he felt for them.

Let’s thank God for His faithfulness towards each of us, when we don’t know our “right from our left” and ask for more compassion toward others when they demonstrate the same.

Reverend Glenda Brunson

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“Can We Pass Job’s Test?” – Trust – Reprint from 09/29/2011

 

 

When we read the book of Job, we are reminded of Job’s tests and how he responded to them.  Jobs’ tests:  One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “ The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off.  They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking another messenger came and said , “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking  yet another messenger came and said , “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off.  They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house.  It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:13-22)

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity?” Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble? ”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Can we pass Job’s tests? Can God rely on us to offer Him praise when we are going through trials and afflictions? Do we trust God enough to shout in victory before the battle is won?  Scripture teaches us, “ I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).

As I re-read the story of Job, I thought about how often I’ve heard Job’s story preached from a pulpit. The focus of the sermon was usually Job’s loss of family, material things, and the instant decline in his health, at the hands of Satan.  It culminated with Job’s restoration only after he prayed for his friends.  I’d like for us to look at the book differently.  Let’s look at Job as God did when he allowed Satan to test him.  Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).  Satan presented himself to God along with the angels (Job 1:6).  He seems to remind God of who he is and what he does (Job 1:4-7). 

God demonstrated his confidence in Job’s unwavering trust in Him as his provider of temporary things that obviously did not stand up under Satan’s attack.  Satan was utterly defeated and unable to break Job’s faith and trust in his God.

As for Job, these tests had nothing really to do with him; he was just an instrument God chose to use to prove a point to Satan.  Since Job, like us really belong to God; he could be used in any way God saw fit.

Job’s greatest suffering was not his losses; it was his feelings of alienation from God during his trials. Job had to trust the process and wait on God to accomplish His purpose.  What test is God sending you through at this moment?

“Can we pass Job’s tests?”  Are we passing our tests without losing faith in God?

Reverend Glenda Brunson