"If you don't see the real me, you won't see what love has won..." Vota

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jonah and the Older brother from Jesus' parable

I have been teaching the 2 year old class at church this month and we are teaching the story of Jonah. The main point of the lessons is "God sees us". After reading the book, The Prodigal God, I look at this story in a completely different way (my review of this book was posted a couple of days ago). I look at Jonah and see God addressing the same thing that Jesus dealt with in telling the parable of the lost son to the Pharisees. God was addressing Jonah's sense of superiority and merciless heart. Jonah believes he has the right to pass God's judgement on the Ninevites. He tells God after the Ninevites repented:

Jonah 4:1-3 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That 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. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

In this story, as in the story of the lost son, God the Father deals lovingly with the wayward sinners and is merciful, life giving/party throwing for the repentant (I cling to this Truth), but He also deals lovingly to the elder brother and the Prophet who have no sense of mercy. In both stories the elder righteous brother and the righteous Jonah both choose not to enter God's party. Jonah literally tells God that he would rather die, he was so angry. I read this as a spiritual death right then and there for Jonah. He chooses to carry his hate and judgement rather than experience giving mercy. Likewise, the elder brother never goes into the party of the Father, again I see this as the spiritual death of the elder brother.

I just thought this was interesting. I think God must be serious when He tells us not to pass judgement on others. It, according to what I have read, is harder to repent from being superior or "holier than thou" than for the most wayward of sinners to come home.

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