The Hungry and Thirsty

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

©sh shurick

©sh shurick

With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation. Isaiah 12:3

The first step in reading the Bible is to ask God to help you understand it…Don’t go to Scripture looking for your own idea; go searching for God’s…we also need a listening heart… Max Lucado

Let’s revisit a familiar story that may have some unfamiliar details, and may provide some significant insight.

The prophet Jonah thought he was a righteous man.

God chose Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh that He was going to destroy them all if they would not repent. They were sinners in the most evil of ways. The Bible does not give us specifics – that is left to our imagination. The only thing it tells us is, “their evil has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:2) We know it must have been great evil, because God was about to destroy the entire city and everything in it.

Jonah, because he despised the Ninevites, didn’t want to warn them. Jonah fled in the opposite direction of Nineveh. He boarded a ship to sail even farther away. Of course, Jonah couldn’t hide from God, who sent a great storm to warn Jonah that he better get his act together.

The captain of the ship, although a non-believer knew something was wrong. He threw dice to determine that it was Jonah who was at fault. When asked, Jonah admitted that God was angry with him, and told the captain to cast him overboard or his ship would surely sink. Jonah preferred to die rather than be a party to saving the Ninevites.

However, God wasn’t finished with Jonah.

Jonah was thrown into the sea, only to be saved by a huge fish. Inside the fish, Jonah had three days to meditate on his disobedience, pride and arrogance. Jonah appeared to be convicted, prayed and confessed the Lord’s sovereignty. At this point, God allowed the fish to vomit Jonah out onto the beach, and gave Jonah a second chance to deliver His message to the Ninevites.

Upon Jonah’s arrival at Nineveh, he told the people they had 40 days to repent of their evil ways or be destroyed. “And the people of Nineveh believed God.” Jonah 3:5 All the people, including the king, fasted and repented of their ways.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” Jonah 3:10

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” Jonah 4:1-2

Justice is not pointing an accusing finger. It is not using Scripture as a sword to cut the legs off sinners. Jesus told us what justice is. “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13, Hosea 6:6

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

How many of us are free from the sins the apostle Paul lists: Greed, envy, malice, gossip, slander, sarcasm, arrogance, boastful, disobedient, foolish, doubting, heartless, ruthless, sexual infidelity.

In our quest to be self-righteous, do we forget about God’s righteousness? In our desire to be right, do we neglect mercy? In our zeal to follow the law, do we fail to follow Jesus?

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” John 7:37-38 (Isaiah 12:3)

Next Week: Passing Forward God’s Great Mercy

www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com

* ©2007 Max Lucado, Grace For The Moment, p. 276, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN

17 comments

  1. ..I do so like the story of Jonah. Makes me happy and sad all at the same time. Makes me remember compassion. Makes me remember that God can call anyone to do his will…even those LEAST willing… and MOST stubborn and arrogant.

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    1. So true. Reading the story as an adult gave me a completely different perspective from reading it as a child. As a child, I thought the “big fish” was meant to drown Jonah, and the part about him being angry and self-righteous was never included. There is such rich fodder there and, of course, we never know if he came around or simply suffocated in his own resentment.

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      1. Yip. Sometimes we do not need to know the outcome of the individual – just what they accomplished that made a difference. After all – it is not about them 😀

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      2. Cool!! 😀

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  2. Fresh insights always seem to arise when encountering scripture at different times. For me, the parable of the Prodigal Son always irked a bit as I could see why the brother at home would be annoyed. It wasn’t until one day, on hearing it read at church when I equated myself with the returning brother, that I understood in a flash that I want God’s mercy, not his judgement. For too long my perspective had been self-righteous in equating myself solely with the obedient son.
    The part of Jonah’s story that always strikes home to me is how angry he became at God’s destruction of his lovingly-tended shady tree. Jonah’s understanding of God’s mercy after His explanation of that simple experiment gives rise to further belief of his love.
    Lovely insights, Susan and reflections on His mercy give me unending hope.x

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    1. Anne-Marie, I think we all have a place inside us of secret self-righteousness. A place of, “I know what’s best for you,” or “I’m certainly better than that!” We’re human after all. Our best is never God’s best, and all we can do upon self-discovery is pray for His humility and mercy. It’s quite unnerving when we uncover the little pharisee inside of us, but the Holy Spirit is stronger, wiser and more loving. When we ask for help and wisdom, He gives it without judgment or condemnation (James 1:5).

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  3. gracious&attractive · ·

    Reblogged this on graciousandattractive and commented:
    Wonderful insight into human needs, both physical and spiritual!

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    1. Bless you, and thank you so much for the reblog.

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  4. Good word! Susan, you’re really hitting on the heart of God here and how we really don’t understand the depth of His love and mercy. A little background, Historically, the Ninevites would be far worse than the most radical terrorists today. When they could come toward a city, every person in the city would flee in fright because anyone caught by them would be brutally tortured and killed. Oftentimes, they would leave the decapitated heads in a pile outside of a city as a warning to others. So, this reluctance, shall we say, of Jonah’s would be understandable! If God’s mercy doesn’t violate our sense of justice we don’t get it yet! But praise God, there is no depth of depravity that is too deep for His love! And when we receive it from Him, it becomes ours to give to the broken world around us. Blessings.

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    1. Mel, you’re right about the Ninevites. While Jonah’s downright horror at God’s forgiveness of them might echo today’s “concerns” over radical or hyper-grace, it is always God who decides how He will bestow it. And like Jonah, we have no call to question God’s mercy and compassion toward anyone. Glad you added your piece here. You always add light to the path.

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      1. Susan, your words and then Mel, your comment – you have brought me “significant insight” indeed. Thank you.

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      2. Bless you, Paul. Always glad to have you here. The insight was mine first, through the Holy Spirit – a powerful awakening in me. Glad to share it.

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  5. Great insight! Thanks so much for sharing this Susan! Many Blessings, Hannah

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Hannah.

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  6. This was a wonderful post today.
    It remined me of a conversation with my sweetie the other day.
    We were talking about all the different “interpretations” of scripture.
    Jeff said, “I think this happens because we fail to properly prepare to read the word of God.”
    He compared just picking up the bible and reading it w/o preparing…
    to just busting into the kings chambers unannounced and in dirty clothes.
    It would be a disaster!.
    He then said something so beautiful that I want to share, especially since it is relavent to this post.
    He said, we need to kneel in prayer and ask forgivness for our sins and wrong attitudes. Then ask for the spirit to open our minds to the words we are about to read. Then He said, we also need to ask for the spirit to assist in the “digestion” of those words. So that they can be used for nourishment to our minds and lives.
    Have a great weekend my dear. I love and appreciate your words.
    God Bless!

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    1. Oh, I love that image! Thank you so much for sharing it here. Please tell him his words have added flavor, salted seasoning to this post.

      You both have a Spirit-filled weekend, sweet friend.

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