Going Deeper with the Message:
by: Andrew Archer
This Sunday, we continued our series in the Old Testament book of Jonah. I shared how we are a lot like Jonah in that we tend to turn to God only when things get bad. However, in spite of our tendency to forget God, He remains faithful to keep his promises, gracious, merciful, and always ready to help us. What an incredible God He is!
As I was thinking about Jonah and God, I couldn’t help but see the parallels between this story and a parable Jesus told in the book of Luke about two sons and their father. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father surprisingly gives it to him. The son then leaves for a far away country. While there, he lives very recklessly and squanders his wealth. To make matters worse, there is a famine in that country and he becomes so desperate that he feeds pigs and longs to eat what the pigs are eating.
Just like Jonah, this younger son turns from a loving father to live life his own way. They each want to be in control of what’s going on in their life. And just like Jonah, as the younger son does this, his situation gets worse and worse until he eventually hits rock bottom. At this point, he realizes that he has no other options than to turn back and call out to his father. I’m able to see myself in both of these guys. Both in forgetting God when things are good and in waiting to reach out to Him until things get bad.
The similarities between these two stories don’t stop there. In the same way that God is ready to rescue Jonah when he calls out to Him, we see the father from Jesus’ parable ready to do the same. Luke 15:20 says this: “But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.” Not only that, but the father throws a huge party for his son who was lost. Both the father, who is meant to be a picture of God, and God himself in Jonah, show an incredible amount of mercy and grace toward Jonah and the younger son.
This story is often referred to as the prodigal son, but I think calling it the prodigal God is more fitting. Prodigal can refer to reckless spending and living, but it can also mean having or giving something on a lavish scale. Who gives more lavishly than our God? He rescued a runaway prophet and threw a party when He rescued a lost son. He is a Prodigal God who doesn’t hold back when it comes to pouring out mercy and grace.
Living out the Message: