Daily D – Jonah 4:1-2
Jonah 4:1, 2 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing 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.”
Some people appear more eager to consign others to hell rather than offering them heaven.
“Don’t you think them people is predestinated to go to hell?”
A leader in the church I served a generation ago asked me this question when I was attempting to raise money for world hunger. Africa was experiencing a horrific famine. People were starving to death. This leader reasoned since they were predestinated (sic) to go hell, we didn’t really need to waste time or money raising funds for their relief.
I am not sure where he got that idea. It is probably wise not to follow his logic down that rabbit hole. I’m afraid of where it might lead. I am confident you share my shock and disappointment.
Reading Tim Keller’s Rediscovering Jonah: The Secret of God’s Mercy, my smugness directed toward this church leader and his attitude thawed a bit. This is not because he was even close to right on the subject, but because Keller pointed out a few prejudices of my own. I prefer books that point out other people’s problems.
The question creeping its way into my conscious awareness is, “Who do I easily consign to hell without any compassion or concern that might offer them a trip to heaven instead?”
We often hear people in television shows and movies say with great force, “Go to hell.” Please, never say this. Please, do not desire this for anyone anywhere. You may not believe in hellfire, but consider what it must be like to exist without any of God’s kindness, goodness, and love. Nothing could be more horrible than such a void.
Jonah is a short book. You can read it in a few minutes. Read it again and see Jonah’s prejudice. Ask God to show you any prejudice you may hold deep within you. Do what everyone in Nineveh did and repent. Ask God to draw the people you loathe into a relationship with himself that is real, meaningful, and transformational. Do what Jesus said and love everybody. Give ‘em heaven.
I will repent of my prejudices and seek heaven for all people everywhere.
Our Father, thank you for awakening me to my hardness of heart toward individuals and groups. You love them as much as you love me. You want your best for them now and forever. Give me compassion and concern for those who I would rather consign to hell. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”