When Jonah was in the belly of the fish he uttered a truth that is essential for us to grasp: “They that observe LYING VANITIES forsake their own mercy.” (Jon.2:8) What did he mean by this? Jonah had a very real and truthful knowledge of God. This is why he would say to God after his ordeal with the fish, “…for I KNEW that You are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent from evil (…deferring judgement).” (4:2) Somewhere at some time, Jonah put himself in a position where the mercy of God was to some extent, of none effect. It was when he turned aside from that which he knew of God, to embrace an empty, “lying” idea of God. That idea, thinking that he could escape the notice of God, and His purposes, would take him to the depths of the sea, in pitch black misery for three days. What is the lesson for us, and what does “faithfulness” have to do with Jonah?
“Faithfulness” means that one is not only committed to what one declares, but has the capacity (power and authority),and will, to honor and fulfill it. When we look at the character of God, and consequently that of Christ, we are confronted with the absolute, immutability (unchangeableness) of His Person. This is why His word has such weight and significance, above the words and thoughts of men. He, being absolute, is not only fully committed in intent with regard to what He says, but in the power and authority to accomplish it. He CAN, and WILL do what He says. Jonah permitted himself to be turned aside by his own prejudice and preference from his knowledge of the total commitment of God to save the lost of Nineveh. He would in essence choose to believe a lie concerning God’s calling, and God’s commitment.
The Apostle Paul speaks a good deal concerning the faithfulness of God. First of all, he writes: “God is faithful, by whom, you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9) What does this mean? It means that God is totally, sovereignly, committed to the believer with respect to every aspect of his fellowship with Jesus Christ. Not only has He provided all IN Christ, but He has provided the Spirit of God for the effectual out-working of His purposes. Secondly, Paul writes: “God is faithful, who will not permit you to tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) This statement proclaims to us that God KNOWS us and our circumstances perfectly, and is present, sovereignly committed to meeting us in them. We may not “feel” that this is true, but feelings is not the issue. We are called to live according to the true nature of God…He IS faithful. Lastly, Paul writes: “Faithful IS He who calls you, who also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24) The Lord Jesus is not only the origin and essence of our calling to Himself, and to any task, but He is the constant ENABLER. He WILL sovereignly intervene, for He is a “very present help…,” sufficient for every need. The question then becomes: “And how do I KNOW this faithfulness of God?” He is known in only one way…by FAITH.
“Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art, I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.” Dear Father…You are absolutely faithful, according to your word, for you are God and not man. Enable us to grasp this reality with all of our hearts, casting all care upon You, and believing You to sovereignly lead and guide us, accomplishing all of Your blessed purposes in our lives, and in the lives of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.