But Jonah ran away from the Lord... Jonah 1:3
What has always arrested my attention in this story is one simple fact: Jonah ran away from the Lord.
No big deal you might think. People are running away from the Lord every day.
Um, yeah, that's true. There is one small difference though; Jonah had the Holy Spirit.
Now when I first came to the Lord I believed as I was taught, that I recieved the Holy Spirit by faith. There was just one small problem with this; nothing much changed. I had no victory in my life. I had no assurance. I had no intimacy with God. Everything I read in scripture contradicted this. Scripture says that the Holy Spirit brings victory. [For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith. 1John5:4] Scripture says that we can be assured that we are who we claim to be in Christ [how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we shewed ourselves toward you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5] Scripture assures us that No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you John15:15
Either the word of God is true or it is not. I am not very good at trying to make the scriptures say what they don't when the plain meaning is so very plain, so power means power; intimacy means intimacy; assurance means nothing else but the witness & testimony of the Holy Spirit ~ so if I had been sealed by faith unto the day of redemption where was my assurance? My intimacy with God? His power in me?
I am perfectly capable of making something exquisitly simple into an inedible mountain so I muddled round & I muddled round reading & reading what others had to say about experiencing God but the actual experience eluded me. Oh, I got glimpses. It was enough to spark my appetite, renew my flagging enthusiasm, to cause me to press on in my search for the God of Abraham, & Isaac & Jacob, the God who paraded through the Israelie camp as a pillar of fire by night, & who's shekinah filled the holy of holies.
And gradually, bit by bit, little by little I came to know God ~ & His Spirit resided within me in power & glory. Which brings me to Jonah, who lived at a time when most people did not have the indwelling of God's spirit in their lives ~ so he was incredibly blessed. If I have learnt nothing else about the Spirit of God I have learnt that He is impossible to resist. One way or another once the Spirit gets in my ear I have no peace if I ignore Him.
I know what it is to have an annointing rest upon me, to hear the very words of God speak through me. I know how it feels to have the weight of the Spirit direct me in areas the Lord wants addressed. I have had the Spirit so overwhelm me I have begged the Lord to step away because I cannot stand under the weight. I know His love. His compassion. His hatred of unrighteousness. I have sensed His presence directing me. He has upheld me in times of grief & annointed me with joy when I should weep. He has shown me His ways in dreams & visions. I have heard His voice. It is not, What was Jonah thinking? It is more, How on earth did he manage to do that?!
And so my conclusion is that Jonah did not recieve the Holy Spirit in the same way that we do, that He did not recieve the Spirit in the fullness of Christ, In Christ's power & glory, & so, in his pride, was able to resist the very clear directive of the Lord to head into Ninevah & warn the people of coming destruction if they did not repent.
I get Jonah's reluctance. The Assyrians were a pretty awful lot. Remember the worship of Ishtar & Bel originated here & their atrocites in warfare leave nothing to the imagination. Now here's the interesting thing. Every Old Testement prophet & a number of the kings were blessed with some measure of the Holy Spirit. How many of the prophets were miserable at being called? At what they were asked to preach? How many were afraid, or timid? Contrast that with the New Testament when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the victory that Christ had won. Paul boasts of having recieved 5 times the 40 lashes minus one. Or Peter, who was so concerned for the safety of his own skin that he denied Jesus 3 times, yet under the power of the Holy Spirit, when it came to his own death, announced he was not worthy to be crucified as his Lord was & so was crucified upside down.
Yet if what Jesus says is true we should expect to see texactly that, even today. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.
Could it possibly be that the church has held a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof? And that power is the Holy Spirit. Now don't mistake me. One of the things the Holy Spirit does is seal us, telling the whole spiritual world that we now belong to Christ, but it is not all the Spirit does. He enables us to live the Christ~life. To do what Jesus did. And what did Jesus do? He preached. He taught. He healed. And He told us to go & do likewise.
So speak to me about how the power of the Holy Spirit manifests in your life. How do you understand the third person of the trinity?