REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by a former AMI church staff, was first posted on July 14, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“What God Truly Cares About the Most”
Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
Is it sufficient for us to only do the right things for God, or does the Lord look for something beyond than that? That’s the conflict we find in this morning’s text.
We already know that God’s will for Jonah was to go to Nineveh and proclaim judgment against its habitants, and that God sent a great storm to hinder Jonah from running away. Once he was thrown into the sea, God appointed a great fish to swallow him in order to preserve him.
Based just on these prior events, we are left with a God who simply wanted Jonah to fulfill the function for which he was called to do. However, the Lord’s desire for Jonah went much deeper than that. First, we see that God, after appointing a plant to give Jonah shade, also appointed a worm to attack it. Since the word “appoint” used in 1:17 is used in 4:6 as well, there may be a connecting motive between the two instances from God’s standpoint.
So, what was God’s desire for Jonah? In short, God uses the plant and the worm to confront Jonah by revealing what is really in his heart. In a matter of hours, Jonah went from gladness in response to the miraculous growth of the plant that benefitted him to bitter anger over its destruction. Evidently, Jonah’s disposition was solely based on what was pleasing to him, both psychologically (revenge against the hated Ninevites) and physically.
However, God is not merely interested in using Jonah for his grand purpose; He is interested in Jonah himself, to help this conflicted man to be right before Him. God could have given up on this disobedient prophet during the storm or even when he went to the outskirts of Nineveh to see it destroyed, but the Lord persistently pursued after Jonah.
As much as God cared for the great city of Nineveh, that the people there would not be destroyed by their sins, God cared for Jonah that he would not be destroyed by anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Ninevites repented when they were confronted, but will Jonah? This text, then, poses us this question: “If God confronts us, then, how will we respond?”
Prayer: Father, search me and know me. If there is any grievous way in me, reveal it to me. Lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 24
Lunch Break Study
Re-read the passage for this morning’s devotion.
Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Questions to Consider
- What is significant in God’s use of the plant and worm?
- What led to Jonah’s state of anger and bitterness?
- In light of Jonah, what should be the attitude of our heart in accordance with the Psalm 139 passage?
- When we look at the use of the word “appoint” with the instance of the great fish, we can infer that God used these things (worm, plant) to ensure Jonah’s awareness that it was God who orchestrated everything, that it wasn’t circumstantial.
- Jonah felt that nothing was going his way: first, God spared Nineveh, who, in his mind, deserved the worst punishment from Him; second, what small comfort he received from the shade was taken away.
- We are called to be humble before God, asking that He reveals our hidden thoughts. We are also called to hope and trust in Him so that we are led in accordance to His perfect will.
The true vulnerability before the Lord is difficult. We have so many hidden motives. Yet, God is persistent in His desire to make us right before Him. Let’s examine our hearts and ask the Lord to bring healing, hope, and repentance in all areas of our lives.