Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jonah wasn't a high Calvinist

It wasn't long ago that I was convinced that Jonah was just like a modern high calvinist- they don't want people to be saved. Sure, some people can be, their people, the elect, but not all people. Hardened sinners, dumb people, obstinate people, God shouldn't save, after all He needs vessels fit for wrath.
But now as I think about it, that's not an accurate thing to say at all. Jonah understood from the first that God is above all gracious and quick to save. Look at 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” And his response? Jonah 4:2 "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm"
A high Calvinist would leap at this command to go, arise, and cry out against the sinners. Preach it's destruction; go to it and tell it that it's days are numbered. Tell them they will all die in fire and water. Tell them God has decreed they are to be put to the sword.
Give 'em the law.
But Jonah understood something the Calvinists don't-- God's judgment is His invitation to salvation, and this was His way of inviting them to be saved. This message of judgment and wrath was how God was going to humble them, and get their eyes to turn to Him.
So Jonah flees. Or more accurately Jonah was told to arise (v1) so he goes below deck to lay down and slumber. It's not just that he's going in the opposite direction to see Nineveh overthrown, he's going to do the opposite thing. Because what's the opposite thing of preaching judgment? Preaching grace? No, not preaching at all.
He understood that God wants to save sinners first and foremost. By any and all means. And for that reason he was way ahead of the modern TULIP calvinist.

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