Scripture Reading – Jonah 3:1-4:11
3 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
4 But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lordand said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3 And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.
6 The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a Second Time.” Jonah 3:1
How often do we think that if God would just make His wishes known we would have a clear direction for our life? We would be sure and confident and strive forward into any fray with righteous zeal knowing that God was on our side!
Or would we?
God tells us what He wants in all kinds of ways. He tells us in Scripture. He tells us in the words of other believers. He tells us through circumstance. He tells us through our own interests and joys and sorrows.
But we do not listen.
Why not? We might not hear the voice of God for lots of reasons, but we do not listen to the voice of God for one simple reason. We do not like what it says.
Jonah did not refuse to go to Nineveh because he was afraid or because he thought he would fail. He did not go because he did not want what God said should happen to happen.
We do not listen because we do not want to hear. We do not want to be the one to go to Nineveh. We do not want to have to be the one to go talk to that person. To stop doing something. To start doing something. To be gentle or to be harsh.
We want to follow God, but we want to do it our way.
So when God speaks and says something we do not want to hear we pretend we cannot hear his voice.
Here we are in the season of Lent again. A season of preparing us to follow Jesus through the way of the Cross and the Empty Tomb and beyond.
God is speaking. Again.
Maybe it is time for us to stop asking God to speak to us and start asking ourselves why we refuse to listen. – Scott Carter