Monday, March 29, 2010

Wait and See or Weep and Plead?

When God saw what they (Nineveh) did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:10
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. Jonah 4:1 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Jonah 4:5

I have been in the book of Jonah for weeks. I knew that it was a word in due season for me. Everywhere I turned…someone was talking about Jonah. This morning as I was getting ready for church, it really hit me. Jonah had God’s message, but he did not have God’s heart.

Jonah had been sent to those who were not of his own people. In fact in approximately 50 years Assyria would come against Israel and take them into captivity. Even so, four times in the very short book of Jonah, Nineveh is called a great or an exceedingly great city. Archaeology is replete with the scope and historical significance of this ancient civilization. However, God was not impressed with their accomplishments; it was the state of their hearts that sent a putrefying stench heavenward. As always His mercy triumphs over judgment. God wanted them to repent so that He didn’t have to bring destruction to end their moral decay. Jonah took God’s message into the streets of Nineveh, “Forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah had God’s message, but he did not have His heart. He wanted them to perish. He wanted the word he spoke to be accomplished. He wanted his word to be validated and his reputation intact. He didn’t want to see his enemies blessed. He sat above the city under the shade of his arbor hoping against hope that they would be overthrown. He took a wait and see attitude.
How different would be the one who would come and make Himself of no reputation. Philippians 2:7 In Luke 19:41 we are told Jesus wept as He looked out over Jerusalem and prophesied the destruction that was coming upon them. Jesus grieved over the hardness of Jerusalem’s heart in Luke 13:34 and expressed His desire to gather and protect them like a hen her brood. In the Old Testament Ezekiel was commanded to tell God’s people that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would rather they turn from their way and live. God clothed in human flesh would weep and plead.

I’ve asked myself why this would be so pertinent at this time. We know that America is in peril. Not only from enemies without, but by our own moral decadence. The church itself is filled with those whose lives are indistinguishable from those who don’t even profess Christ. God may give us a hard message to speak forth, but He wants it spoken with a lump in our throat and hope in our hearts that it will be received. He doesn’t want us sitting in cold hearted judgment dispassionately waiting for His wrath to fall all the while more concerned for our own reputation than His.
In the past year, I had to speak a strong word of warning to someone. At first, I was burdened and greatly concerned praying fervently that they would give heed. They didn’t. I realize now that I have taken a wait and see attitude. Pride sits on a perch and judges, humility gets down on its knees and intercedes. I am going back to my knees.
I can shake my head over Jonah in chapter four. What is revealed about him is not attractive at all. However, on deeper reflection and conviction by the Spirit of God I realize that I can fall into the same self-centered trap. How about you?

MY PRAYER: Lord, I want to have Your message and Your heart. Jesus left me an example to follow and the Spirit to empower me. I thank you that mercy triumphs over judgment.

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