“[Jonah’s] explosive anger shows that he is willing to discard his relationship with God if he does not get his thing. When you say, ‘I won’t serve you, God, if you don’t give me X,’ then X is your true bottom line, your highest love, your real god, the thing you most trust and rest in.”- Timothy Keller
“But what God did was so terrible to Jonah, that he burned with anger.”- Jonah 4:1
In Chapter 8 (“Heart Storms”) of The Prodigal Prophet, Timothy Keller stresses that the final startling chapter of Jonah reveals the real lessons of the entire narrative. Certainly, Pastor Keller notes, we can understand Jonah’s initial reluctance to preach in Nineveh, Assyria’s capital. Assyria, the greatest and cruelest power in the world at that time.
Yet, massive repentance occurred when Jonah finally announced God’s coming judgment. Hence, in response God granted a reprieve and didn’t destroy Nineveh. This, the author reports, was nothing short of astonishing!
Above all, this shows that the Word of God in more powerful than we can imagine. However, Jonah melts down in furious rage. And verses 2 and 3 of Chapter 4 let us in on Jonah’s ongoing argument with God. Here Jonah literally cries, ‘Alas, Yahweh!’ Using the personal covenant name of God.
Because Jonah finds himself preoccupied with the covenant of God with Israel. Therefore, Jonah sees the issue as theological. Jonah believes a contradiction exists between the justice of God and the love of God.
Consequently, Pastor Keller describes Jonah’s problem:
“Jonah’s real problem was at the deepest level of his heart. Perhaps we could say that all theological problems play themselves out not just in our intellects but in our commitments, desires, and identities. When Jonah says, in effect, ‘Without that, — I have no desire to go on,’ he means he has lost something that had replaced God as the main joy, reason, and love of his life.”
Today’s question: What’s your true bottom line, your highest love? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Using the Bible rightly”