I've always heard that you shouldn't rely only on teachings in church for your eating of the word as an encourager for reading scripture yourself. That you might pick up on something that you had never learned in church before. This was proven to me this week.
I assist in leading a freshmen bible study with BCM, and this week we were originally going to talk about the prophets who predicted the coming of the messiah. But in studying I got stuck on Jonah. Jonah is the beautiful picture of salvation as almost a precursor for what God had to come. Jonah "flees from the presence of the Lord" just as Adam had done in genesis. Jonah gets in big trouble, seeks the Lord for his salvation and is rescued from the big fish after one of the most powerful prayers in scripture. And then he goes to preach God's grace and a whole city is saved. All of this in a book that is four chapters long.
But here is the kicker, in VBS or Veggitales we don't get the whole story. After Nineveh had repented and turned to the Lord, Jonah responds in a very peculiar way. Go read Jonah 4 right now.
Jonah wanted himself to be killed after he did what God asked him and prevailed. Now if you were called by God to go to Las Vegas to preach gospel and the entire city turned and repented, would your response be to ask God to kill you?
We are taught growing up that Jonah ran because he was scared of the response in Nineveh, that he would be persecuted or even killed. Or as in Veggitales slapped by fish. But if that were his motivation, why would Jonah say in chapter 4 that he fled to Tarshish because he knew the lord was good? He knew the Lord would be gracious and save Nineveh.
I listened to a message on thegospelcoalition.org that gave me one school of thought. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh. They were not part of God's chosen people. Therefore if they were not a part of Israel, they were a threat to Israel. So in Jonah's mind, his nation would be better off without Nineveh so he wanted God to destroy it. So he fled.
Here is the beautiful part: Jonah was told to preach the glory of God to a city of idolaters. But really, Jonah himself had an idol, his nation. Jonah put the security of his nation over the salvation of this other nation. He put the security of Israel over God's calling. God used the big fish to break Jonah of his Idol worship. This moment can be found in chapter 2 verse 8&9. In his prayer he realized he needed to follow after Gods call.
What are the idols in your life? What are the thing that if they were taken away, they would cause you to ask God for your death to come?