When I read the Bible there are books and stories that would have been very different if I would have just stopped at the last chapter. I think we all like happy endings don’t we? We love success stories, where ordinary people do extraordinary things because of the goodness of their own hearts.
If we stopped in Jonah chapter 3 and compared his ministry to that of Jeremiah some striking differences appear. On the outside Jonah would appear to have been the far more successful evangelist. One message to one city and over 600,000 get saved. Jeremiah preached thousands of messages for over 40 years and not one changed heart. I’m sure that by today’s standards Jeremiah would be attending Jonah’s church growth seminar. Yet oddly in Matthew chapter 16 verse 14 when Jesus questioned His disciple’s as to whom the people thought He was their reply was, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Did you see that? Jeremiah and not Jonah! Folk’s it is as the Lord said to Samuel in 1 Sam 16:7 “…the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” It is when we read the final chapter that we realize that Jonah had heart problems. And I think I know the reason why.
It’s kind of like one of those twenty-thousand-piece jig-saw puzzles. When my daughter was in her early teens we bought her one. The first thing she did was get out all the straight edged ones so that she could put together the frame. Now the frame as you know goes up real fast. Then you separate the pieces by colors. Sooner or later in putting the puzzle together I know that I’m going to hear two phrase:
1.) We are missing some pieces:
A.) The first thought is some sadistic manufacturer did this on purpose leaving out the pieces we need to complete the puzzle.
B.) The second thought is that one of the other people near you lost the piece that you needed. In either case we know that it is not our fault!
2.) The second phrase I know that I’m going to hear is that: These pieces are cut wrong for they just don’t seem to fit.
But as time goes by slowly the picture comes together. And the key to putting it together was; Keep your eye on the picture that came on the box! That’s why they put it there, so that you can see what it should look like when it is altogether.
That was Jonah’s problem; he just didn’t see how the pieces of the puzzle of his life was suppose to fit together. So he blamed the manufacture, then he blamed the Ninevehites. Then lastly he just thinks that the pieces are cut wrong. What’s his problem? He failed to see the whole picture instead he focuses upon the pieces! All of this lead to his heart problem. It is my prayer that we can get back to looking at the finished picture and use that to interpret the pieces of our lives!
This has been Pastor Dale, Blessings!