Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.” Jonah 3:1
When we read the story of Jonah, we see that God is the God of second chances. Jonah heard the Lord speak to him, but ran away in disobedience and probably fear. But the Lord saw Jonah and did not give up His pursuit of him. Would a loving father ever stop going after one of his children? Of course not! And in a miraculous rescue that only God could do, He sent a large fish to save Jonah from the raging waters he was thrown into. And in the three dark days Jonah spent quarantined inside, he “remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:7). Sometimes it takes being cut off from the outside world to remind us of who we were made to worship and obey. Could we be living in such a time?
Jonah prayed some powerful words during his quarantine and I hear them echo in my heart today. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.” (Jonah 2:8-9). He saw in the running and worship of idols, he was actually turning away from the love of God. Friends, we have the same God as Jonah and He has not changed. When we turn from our idols, we turn back towards the love of God. Our response then is praise, willing sacrifice, obedience and telling the truth. On a side note, those who are broadcasting lies have turned away and seem to be worshiping idols and not the One true God. Be watchful and listen to those who are speaking words that aligns with the Word.
When Jonah prayed, “the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10). God who made the fish and the shore was in complete control. He used that which He created to rescue his child. And the result? “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” (Jonah 3:1-2). And having his heart turned back to God and given a second chance, Jonah obeyed. Because of the size of the city, it took him three days to walk through it, the same amount of days of his quarantine. The result of his obedience was the turning of more hearts, an entire city nonetheless. God also used the king to enforce Jonah’s message. “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.” (Jonah 3:8). Reminds me of the national day of prayer our President asked everyone to participate on earlier this month.
Perhaps God is giving our country a second chance too. Our sins have been obvious as a country and individually. We have turned from the love of God to the idols of self and violence. Sin has a way of captivating us and tarnishing our worship of the One true God. Self makes a horrible idol. Violence leads to death of that which is innocent. May we start with our own hearts and then move to our homes, extended family, neighborhoods, cities, states and countries, praying for hearts to be turned back to God’s love. Let us follow Jonah’s example and spend our time praying, repenting and returning to our Creator. He alone is to be worshipped and may all our idols fall.
My prayer today is, “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2). As in the days of Jonah, do it again! I am eagerly watching to see you glorified by hearts turning back to You, our first love. Do it again, Lord! Do it again, Lord! -Amen.
P.S. If the word idol is new to you, let me give you the best definition I have ever heard.
Idol: “Anything I put before my God, is an idol. Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. And anything I can’t stop thinking about is an idol. And anything that I give all my love is an idol.” -Song by Jimmy Needham, Clear the Stage