“You cast me into the deep…I am driven from your sight” Jonah’s prayer show fear about the possibility his physical demise and an end to life. Even so, he does not simply acknowledge a physical threat; he also speaks of a deep spiritual threat. It is not just the “deep” that disturbs him, being “driven from God’s sight” would be much worse. How are physical and spiritual struggles, threats, and challenges connected in your life these days? How does God offer a “full” deliverance that touches us body, mind, and spirit? Thank you for full redemption in Christ. Amen.
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish…” Often when teaching on this passage from Jonah I find there is a general perception that the fish is God’s punishment upon Jonah. Closer reading of chapter 2 makes it clear that the fish is God’s deliverance of Jonah, for which he gives thanks. What might this “punishment” perspective bias say about our view of God? Are there times in our own lives when we mistakenly see God’s deliverance as a punishment? Heavenly Father, help us to see your powerful hand as loving and redeeming.
“Jonah, meanwhile…had lain down, and was fast asleep.” Many Christians these days like to use the “peace” test to determine whether their actions, direction, and relationship with God are as they should be. But is an inner peace enough? Jonah seemed at peace enough to be sound asleep while he headed away from God and a storm raged around him threatening his life and all with him in the boat. What are you seeking direction for these days? Are you settling for inner peace as a barometer? What else might you consider? Lord, help me to walk in your way.
“The mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god.” The sailors are transformed. Life experience with its storms, new relationships, confronting one who runs from God, as well as a powerful experience with the living God, who they may have heard about but never knew; all of it is the kettle for transformation. By verse 14, the sailors cry out to the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, the personal, saving God. Where do you turn in the tough times? What is going on now that has you crying out to the Lord? Lord, hear our prayers?
“But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” We learn in verse nine that Jonah knows God as the one who made the sea and the dry land and yet he somehow still believes that he may flee from God’s presence. Hiding like Adam and Eve, fleeing like Jonah; it’s all indication that we would rather have our way than God’s. Are you hiding these days? Are there things in your life that cause you to flee from God’s presence? God, thank you that you are faithful to pursue and find us. Amen!
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…saying…” Commentaries on Jonah clearly emphasize Jonah’s disobedience to God’s command in this first verse. Before we are quick to reprimand Jonah however, perhaps we ought to notice this book starts with a man who is listening, who actually hears God’s voice. Our day and age is not one that encourages listening much to anyone, let alone God. Are you listening for God’s voice? Are there other voices that guide your life? How can you move away from distractions so you can hear God’s voice? Give us grace to hear O Lord!
“The woman conceived and bore a son…she hid him…” No one would know the name of Moses today if there was not a loving mother trusting in God and taking practical action for the care of her child. Sometimes Christians today look for “big things” to do for God; is it possible that faithfulness and righteousness in the little things each day are most important? What decision can I make or action can I take today that reflects my trust and faith in God beyond my own desires and control? Spirit of God, guide us and empower for daily living.
“But the midwives feared God; they did not do what the king of Egypt commanded, but let the boys live.” Amazing things occur here (vs. 15-22): the lengths to which the powerful will go to maintain their control and prosperity, the lengths to which normal people will go to live according to God’s ways (even those outside the faith), and God’s ability to flourish life despite evil human intent. In our national politics, church organizations, and families which motivations most reveals the intent of our hearts? Lord Jesus, may we be amazing like the midwives, not like the king. Amen.
“Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph…” The people of God live in the world. This world has worldly governmental systems that are sometimes sympathetic and supportive of those of faith and sometimes not. The story of Exodus from cover to cover is the story of God who is powerful to deliver and make Himself known regardless of earthly leaders. How might this truth guide and encourage us amidst change? We pray for our leaders O Lord; may they be sensitive to your guidance. May your people be faithful witnesses to your ways through all circumstances.
“Then Joseph died…but the Israelites were fruitful and prolific, they multiplied and grew exceedingly…” Exodus begins, not with a problem, but with a blessed people who are in fact following God’s plan “to be fruitful and multiply.” The problems of the bondage of Israel arise out of Egypt’s fears over their growth. How do fears in our lives or in our churches prompt negative responses to other peoples? What kind of other motivations and approaches could lead to loving communities despite the differences of people? Heavenly Father, as your children, let love characterize our leadership, our communities, and our lives.