How Good and Pleasant It Is When God’s People Live Together in Unity

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JONAH 1:1-4:11 | REVELATION 5:1-14 | PSALM 133:1-3 | PROVERBS 29:26-27

This was one guy was wasn’t too thrilled to get called upon to be a prophet. I’m referring to a man by the name of Jonah.

Jonah didn’t want any part of God’s plan to be a messenger to the people of Ninevah, and decided to disappear for a while.  How about a cruise or something? 

Well, sometimes God lets us be when we choose to turn away from him, and then there are times when he pursues us until we get the message.  Jonah certainly did — get the message, that is.  He knew he must be the cause for the fury of the seas, and persuades his shipmates to throw him overboard!  Not only is he an escapist, he is suicidal. He is truly prepared to end his life!

But God has other plans for him. 

Long story short:  Jonah miraculously survives the ocean.  He is a Christ-type, who three days later, emerges from the jaws of death, and lives to tell it.  And furthermore, he goes on to resume God’s calling by becoming a preacher-man to the town of Ninevah.

But here’s the thing that strikes me as funny:  when God spares the city — because they actually listen and turn from their evil ways — Jonah isn’t too happy that his prophecies will come to naught!  He’d rather see them fulfilled so as to feel important and perhaps have the satisfaction of telling some survivor, “I told you so!”.

And what’s more, he turns to God to complain about being called a liar!  He says: 

“Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing 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. 3 Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

This is one guy who is ready to die at the mere drop of a hat! 

But God is patient with him yet again, and takes time and care to explain that he is indeed in the business of forgiveness.  Jonah continues to sulk, but sees God’s compassion in action when a strange plant springs up and offers him shade, and yet, when the plant dies suddenly, Jonah is angry and distraught. 

But God says to him:  10 “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Could it be that we are more like Jonah than we’d like to admit?

Turning now to our reading in the book of Revelation, our passage for the day is yet another awe-inspiring one.  What is that scroll, and why can it not be opened by just anyone?  Well, if it is a list of the names of those who have chosen to turn from their ways (like the people of Ninevah), then I am glad that there is someone worthy to read it.

The lamb, the most lowly of creatures, is the animal always associated with God’s divinity.  And it is a lamb that opens up the scroll.  Like me, all those fantastical creatures, elders, and the rest of the heavenly host is gladdened at this fact!  Jesus is the Lamb of God, and in his humility to offer himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, he is granted the honor of opening up the Scroll of Life. Everyone cries:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
   and with your blood you purchased for God
   persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Turning now to the Psalms, we find David, the psalmist, stating a pleasant truth in this verse.  He says:

1 How good and pleasant it is
   when God’s people live together in unity!

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
   running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
   down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
   were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
   even life forevermore.

Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs, authored by Solomon, wise king of Israel:

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
   but it is from the LORD that one gets justice.

27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
   the wicked detest the upright.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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