The Heart of a Runner
In conclusion of our series on the heart we close this week with a heart we may all be able to relate to. We ran the gambit from Abraham’s steadfast obedient heart of faith to Mary’s tender heart loving and brazenly bold heart to do what she did. Perhaps we found a bit of ourselves within those too, or perhaps we found areas we needed to address. To stop growing is to begin dying, I believe that though our bodies age, our hearts should never! We witnessed the confident, pure heart of king in the making. An overlooked, underprivileged boy that was drunk with love for the Lord. His family mocked him but later had to bow. It’s been said by me more than once and may it be an anthem that I live out all my days, “it doesn’t matter where you start, it only matters where you end up”. Your race in life may seem difficult at times, but like every skilled runner knows, mind your rhythm and you can keep going to the finish line. The hare lost to the tortoise because he was distracted and prideful, the tortoise just kept going. One of life’s greatest keys, those that refuse to stop, become unstoppable. Finally we looked at Esther, sharp witted and committed to the end. If I die, I die, nevertheless I will go to the king.
Today we look at our final heart, most likely it is not one you imagined we would examine. We look at the heart of a man, that did his best to disobey the Lord! He ran fast, hard, and in the opposite direction to avoid being obedient. You know his name, Jonah. In his season of fleeing, he was hurled from a ship into the depths of the sea. Swallowed by a whale to sustain his life, within the darkness of its belly as he cried out in repentance, he was tossed back ashore. Though he had been fleeing the opposite way, the fish had brought him back on tract. There are many testimonies in scripture that make you love God, but this is special. Why did God pick the one man that would flee? Why wasn’t God angry with Jonah? He saved Jonah and He taught Jonah through the midst of his trial. Let’s look now at the Word:
“King Jeroboam son of Jehoash of Israel began to rule in Samaria during the 15th year that Amaziah son of Joash was king of Judah. Jeroboam ruled 41 years. Jeroboam did what the Lord said was wrong. He did not stop committing the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat who caused Israel to sin. Jeroboam took back Israel’s land, which ran from the Lebo Hamath to the Arabah Sea. This happened as the Lord of Israel had told his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher. The Lord saw that all the Israelites, both slaves and free men, had many troubles. No one was left who could help Israel. The Lord did not say that he would take away the name of Israel from the world. So he used Jeroboam son of Jehoash to save the Israelites.” 2 Kings 14:23-27 ERV
From first mention of Jonah in the Word, we know this: He was a prophet that the king listened to, and that the king of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. A righteous man of influence to a wicked government and leader. His words carried the power of the Lord and if acted on, even wicked men saw victory. It wasn’t for them, but for the good people in Israel. Perhaps that’s why Jesus compared himself to only one prophet, the prophet Jonah. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. The wheat and the tares are permitted to grow together until a time of judgment comes. May you have the oil still in your lamp when the bridegroom arrives.
“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law answered Jesus. They said, “Teacher, we want to see you do a miracle as a sign from God.” Jesus answered, “Evil and sinful people are the ones who want to see a miracle as a sign. But no miracle will be done to prove anything to them. The only sign will be the miracle that happened to the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the stomach of the big fish for three days and three nights. In the same way, the Son of Man will be in the grave three days and three nights. On the judgment day, you people who live now will be compared with the people from Nineveh, and they will be witnesses who show how guilty you are. Why do I say this? Because when Jonah preached to those people, they changed their lives. And you are listening to someone greater than Jonah, but you refuse to change!” Matthew 12:38-41 ERV
It was a hard time to be serving the Lord when Jonah rode into the scene. The wicked were exceedingly wicked and his own people were evil too. So who was Jonah and why was he the one God chose to bring a word of destruction to the people of Nineveh, Israel’s enemy.
HONEST- Jonah told it like it was. He told King Jeroboam what he should do, he told the men on the boat he was the problem and to throw him in the sea and it would stop. They did and it did. He told God what he felt and though without holding back and he told Nineveh exactly what God told him to. Is it safe to say, that in order to speak God’s mysteries sometimes, you must speak truth all times?
ANGRY- Jonah was angry! I know everyone thinks you aren’t hearing me right. Why was that important? Anger is a sin right? Forms of it can lead to sin, but Ephesians states, be angry and sin not. Scripture even states when the Pharisees challenged Jesus for healing on Sabbath, He was angry with them. Then we have God the Father that is slow to anger, but He gets there! And when He does, you don’t want to be on the receiving end! I’m not endorsing being angry all the time. I’m not endorsing being mean to everyone. I AM endorsing righteous anger! Nineveh was wicked! So much so, that God said you have 40 days or I will wipe you off the face of the earth! So yes, Jonah had a right to be angry with their hardness of heart. They opposed God, mocked Him, and lived awfully. So should we at the wicked corruption in our federal government. It’s a cancer eating out the heart of this nation. We should be anger with the perversion of of sex traffickers and child abuse. We should be angry about good people getting kicked around. Anger means you are going to do something about it. There comes a time and a place where it is righteous to get out your soap box and tell the world I’ve had it with the wickedness around me. Choose this day what God you will serve, but I will serve the Lord. Jonah had had enough! It takes a man of deep holy conviction to run 2000 miles west of where God told him to go. Yet mark this, when Nineveh heard him, they believed him. They changed their hearts and God forgave them.