Agonizomai: Jonah 3:9 - The Beginning of Wisdom

Friday, January 20, 2006

Jonah 3:9 - The Beginning of Wisdom
9 ..."Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?"

Without the promise that God will change His mind, and with only the promise of impending judgment, the King nevertheless leads the whole people in supplicating for mercy. See how they have been brought to understand that God saves through mercy and not human self-justification. Here they stand, condemned already and without even the promise of hope – yet they hope against hope for mercy, and find out what the true nature of God is. God thunders from mount Sinai and God reconciles from mount Calvary, as I said earlier. God threatens the coming judgment in order to bring the proud and wicked human heart to the place of humble supplication for the grace and mercy that He willingly holds forth in outstretched arms all the day long.

And what is found as soon as the heart takes its proper posture? The very grace and mercy that was sought is found. “And he that comes to me I will in not turn away.” This snapshot of the fallen hearts of the Ninevites is the most wonderful illustration of where we ought to be. We agree that we deserve the coming wrath. We see that there is no hope for deliverance but God – and we plead for it, hoping we shall find that God is merciful and gracious and we find out that He is just that.

When all hope in self is gone, when we agree with God about sin and about our sin in particular, when we see that only unmerited favour can possibly save us – then we find the way God has made where there was no way. Here it is that the fear of God actually becomes the beginning of wisdom to us.

My moniker - that's John Hancock to Americans

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