Jonah is a story about a reluctant missionary. He struggles to do what God wants him to do. Jonah is also a story about us. Sometimes we look just like Jonah. My prayer is that as we study this story we get a better view of God and a better view of ourselves. And that we might become a little more willing.
As we walk through this journey I am reading a new book by Tim Keller titled, “The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God's Mercy.” You can find a synopsis of the book here.
I also want to point you to our friends at The Bible Project. Their overview videos are always helpful.
We’ve completed a short series on spiritual warfare and a couple of basic ideas have stuck with me in a fresh way. The internal battle has been the center of the focus this time around and I got a lot of clarity with the final session. In review, we covered several strategies to fighting the battle. Be filled (Matt 12:43-45 & Eph 5:18), Put on armor (Eph 6:10-20), Submit & Resist (James 4:1-12), and know your enemy (Gen 3:1…).
In this focus on the internal battle the simple word “Submit” stood strong and big. In "Knowing the Enemy" we saw how the enemy was all about pride. He is the opposer, standing against the ways of the Maker. This stance causes him to lose miserably as seen in Ezek 28, Isaiah 14, Rev 12 and most decisively Rev 20. The lesson that comes from this is that humility and submission are the way to victory. (Think Rev 5 & Phil 2). When the first people followed the serpent’s tempting to “be like God” (Gen 3:5) the results where cataclysmic. They ended up isolating from each other (2:7) and isolating from God (2:8). Let the misery begin. Temptation leads to the same things for us, isolation and loneliness.
'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
Jesus wants so much more for us. He wants us to live in oneness (John 17). True community. That takes love and submission. The enemy wants us to seek pride, seek glory for ourselves, seek exalting ourselves. He tempts us to have bloated opinions about everything - becoming critical and condemning. I have learned that the more I want it my way, the more I end up all by myself. And that is right where the enemy wants me. Alone and powerless.
The 'Jesus way' is all about submission. Submit ourselves to God (James 4:7), submit to our church leaders (Heb 13:17), submit to our government (Rom 13:1-7), and submit to one another (Eph 5:21). It is in submission that we can find community. When we let each other take the lead on different things then we can coexist with a crowd. Otherwise I end up by myself - isolated, alone, and powerless. Jesus has so much more for us!
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
A shepherd and his journey