This morning I completed Nicole Unice’s “Divine Pursuit: A Study of Jonah.” I have been working through the study for a few weeks during my morning devotion time and found it quite refreshing.
Here’s a quick summary of Jonah’s story: Jonah was a highly respected prophet who God chose to preach a message to the people in the great city of Nineveh. Jonah’s prideful and self-righteous attitude prevailed as he fled in the opposite direction of where God told him to go. God used a series of circumstances to bring Jonah into obedience. You can catch all of the juicy details in the four short chapters of Jonah.
Within those two pages of the Bible, there are so many lessons to learn about ourselves. Nicole carefully focuses on two truths found in Jonah’s story:
- God is pursuing His mission of reconciliation to the world.
Reconciliation is a word that is not often used in our culture. However, the God of the Bible sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross to prove his commitment to reconcile us back to himself. God’s desire is for us to be connected to him in an intimate and loving relationship. Jonah was aware of God’s commitment to this mission when he stated, “That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity (Jonah 4: 2B, NIV).” Once Jonah preached this message of truth, the Ninevites believed God and understood what Jonah already acknowledged, “Salvation comes from the Lord (v 2: 9B).” God pursued the Ninevites collectively as a city, so that they could be reconciled to him.
- God is relentless in pursuing you.
God continued to pursue Jonah. As a result of his disobedience, God could have justly struck Jonah dead right on the spot. Instead, God sends a whale to swallow Jonah whole and gives Jonah three days to think about his sinful decision. Only then does Jonah go to preach the word that God has given him. In spite of his obedience to finally go preach to Nineveh, Jonah’s heart towards the Ninevites did not change. God produced a vine to give Jonah shade, and killed it on the next day to reveal to Jonah that his priorities were not in order. Jonah was angry about the vine, but he had no compassion for the lost people of Nineveh.
God continued to pursue Jonah, and he does the same for us. So often, we miss opportunities to love, serve, and deliver the good message of Jesus Christ. Our hearts are often filled with pride, selfish ambition, and the self-serving cares of this world. We are busy and distracted about the little things (like the vine) and oftentimes miss the work that God wants to do through us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want “whale swallowing” situations to continuously reveal themselves in my life as a result of my disobedience to God’s instructions. Yet, I thank God that he cares enough to pursue me, in the times that I am blatantly disobedient and in the times when I don’t see my sinful blind spots.
I thank Nicole for rising early in obedience to commit this devotion to paper. I was so excited to learn more neat things about her as a result of working through the study. I was also excited in the first week of the study when she introduced me to the Hebrew word, “KOOM.” I love that word! It means to go, rise, stand, get up, and persist. As in when God tells you to do something (like start a ministry or give money or adopt a child or go on a mission trip), the only rightful response is to KOOM! Man, I want to put that on a t-shirt, so that I have an excuse to talk about it! But Nicole also has a heart for communicating with and serving young people. If you are already on the prowl for Christmas gifts, this Bible study would be an excellent stocking stuffer.
The six-week guided study of Jonah, The Divine Pursuit, is available as a printed version or free download on her website. (She is also hosting a pretty exciting event on her blog this week.) If you elect to purchase the hardcopy of “The Divine Pursuit” through PayPal, Nicole is donating 100% of the proceeds to the International Justice Mission.
To find out more about Nicole, this study, and the International Justice Mission, check out these other related blog posts:
Have you read Jonah’s story? What did God reveal to you in these four chapters?
© Natasha L. Robinson 2010