God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.
The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.
We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.
Today’s Devotional is from team member, Jean Ngo.
Jean is serving Mars Hill as Ministry Partnering Director.
The following is insight I gained from the Smashing False Idols Evangelism Conference 2007 with Tim Keller.
Perhaps it’s something none of us want to admit but do you remember a moment when you got really angry with another person? What should you do in that moment? Should you cry out to God for help? Plot revenge? Run and never look back? Let’s explore this issue in the book of Jonah.
In Chapter 1, we find the prophet fleeing from what God commanded him to do:
“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
One reason proposed for why Jonah flees is because of fear for his own safety. All of us have encountered moments when we hold back sharing what we would like to share for fear of that person hurting or rejecting us. In Jonah’s case, going to Nineveh and sharing what God said held the potential of offending an entire city of 120,000 people. It seems reasonable to think Jonah feared for his safety. However, there may be another reason…
Upon deeper reflection (and with the help of a great fish), Jonah prayed (2:8-9):
Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.
In Chapter 3, Jonah went back and did what the Lord told him (vs. 4-5):
Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.
God showed great mercy to the people of Nineveh humbling themselves (3:10):
When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
That should be the end of the story, right? The protagonist did his job…the people of the city repented…and God saved the people. The End! No.
It might surprise us that Jonah actually gets angry with what happened. In Chapter 4, vs.3, he asks the Lord to take his life from him, for death is better to me than life. Jonah is deeply disturbed God spared the city from destruction. Why?
Because of the cruelty and paganism of the Assyrians, the Jewish people harbored deep-seated hostility against this nation, especially Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Like many Israelites of his time, Jonah hated the Ninevites so much that he elevated that hate until it was more important to him than what God commanded him to do. In other words, he made his nationalistic hate a personal one, which became an idol:
He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity…”
It was in that lesson for Jonah that we can see how dangerous it is for us to hate another person or people. We can easily slip as Jonah did. Jonah was afraid of the success of his going to Nineveh (that the people there would repent and, thus, God would spare them); he was not afraid for his own safety. God will bless whom He blesses. It is not our place, as His created, to dictate to God how things should be. Pray that we would not insist on our way, but on being attentive to how God is already at work in us and through us.
God wants to be first in our lives. Are there areas in your life that might be impeding your relationship with God? Would you cry out to Him for a right priority in keeping Him first?
Lord, help me to keep you first in my life and to trust in you always. Holy Spirit, convict me of the people or things that I feel hatred towards, and guide me in paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake.