(May 18, 2020)

From II Kings 14:23-25 “Jeroboam became king in Samaria, and he reigned 41 years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord… He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel… in accordance with the word of the Lord, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai.”

There is one reference to Jonah in the Old Testament outside of the Book that bears his name: II Kings 14.

At this time, Assyrian power was declining; hence, the evil Israeli King Jeroboam II was able to expand his territory by restoring the boundaries of Israel. Israeli strength was on the rise.

And this was done in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken through Jonah. Was this before or after Jonah’s Assyrian adventure? We aren’t told. I like to imagine that II Kings happened first, that Jonah had internalized the message that Israel was going to be restored before being called to go preach in Nineveh.

Imagine that Jonah spent a long time sharing the message that he was pleased to announce: the restoration of Israel! To then seemingly move in the opposite direction and reach out to those enemies by going to Nineveh. Perhaps Jonah wanted to be remembered as a restorer of Israel who preached against Israel’s enemies. Going to Nineveh would then ruin Jonah’s plans. It could change Jonah’s legacy. It could even change the way Jonah would view himself.

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Sometimes our sense of call is so deep and embedded that it actually makes it hard to receive a new word, or to see ourselves apart from it. (This can be especially true for pastors and full-time church workers.) But God’s call on your life does not belong to you; it is God’s.

Our calling in life changes from time to time; our God never does. If we think only of our calling we wonder “what we should do for God.” If we think of our identity as God’s children, we remember who we are. It can be hard for us to put down our “to do” list. It calls for a re-evaluation and surrender.

Seen in this light, these verses from II Kings brings us full circle, for surrendering our ways to God’s ways is what Jonah’s life is all about.

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Father, may we be open to your ways. Even when it is new and not what we would choose. For we know following You involves taking up our cross. In the Name of the Crucified One, Christ Jesus. Amen.