“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9 (NIV).
“Get with the program:” you’ve probably heard that time-worn phrase.
Jonah couldn’t perform a sacrifice. He had no fire, no animals, no priest, no place that was ritually clean to perform a proper sacrifice in accordance with the laws of Moses. It’s true that Jonah’s prayer could be a promise for future sacrifices, but it doesn’t quite read that way. Instead, it’s an acclamation of Jonah’s thoughts of the moment, thoughts of the present.
The only thing Jonah could sacrifice was himself, and that’s precisely what God wanted. Indeed, Jonah was again fore-shadowing Jesus, who would make the sacrifice Jonah couldn’t, then bring the salvation that comes only from the Lord.
You could say that Jonah was getting with the program. You know what has to come next in this lesson.
What can we learn from Jonah here?
First, idols are worthless. The Bible doesn’t waste words, even as it reiterates or, in some places, repeats. God continually labels idols as worthless because they aren’t Him and anything other than Him is both idolatrous and worthless. What idol are you chasing today? Wealth? Kids? Status? Porn? Appearances? Lies? You know in your heart they’re all worthless, that some are even harmful, but we chase them anyway.
What’s more, we chase our pet idols without even knowing we’re taking Jesus along for the ride. He’s with us at all times, even when we are at our very worst. Yet we do it anyway. Drugs, booze, sex, abuse, vulgarity, deceit: pick your poison and when you use it, your Savior and mine is included in what you do.
For God’s sake – literally – get with the program already.
Yet there’s always good news. The good news is THE Good News. Salvation is still free and available from our co-located Savior at any second. He wants our entire self, our entire sacrifice. He wants us to let go of it and let Him take away the guilt and hurt of it. He wants us to follow Him no matter what we’ve said or done, then use our lives in His service. Giving, caring, praying, serving, loving, praise: like Jonah did here, our focus becomes Jesus instead of an idol when we live out these behaviors He inspires. In doing so, His Kingdom grows and we are freed from the guilt of our prisons. Or the inside of a fish, as we’ll soon see.
Salvation from Jesus. THAT is the program.
For further reading: Numbers 30:2, Deuteronomy 32:21, 1 Samuel 12:21, Psalm 42:4, Hebrews 13:15, Jonah 2:10
Savior Jesus, I believe in You alone and want to follow only You. Help me today!
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