Summary: This is the 29th of 31 devotions in a series called, 'The Church Called Jonah, which is based on the book of Jonah.
THE DIVINE WITHDRAWAL
Jonah 4:7-8: “But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.”
But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered.
In the previous devotion, we saw how the Lord prepared a plant to provide shade for Jonah but now we read of quite an opposite scenario. In the morning when Jonah awoke, something strange began to happen. One can imagine the restful sleep Jonah had that night, waking up refreshed, only to be met with a surprise he least expected - the plant that he was so grateful for was beginning to wither before his very eyes. But How? The same God who made miraculous provision and offered protection for Jonah had now prepared something else – a worm. This worm began to do something rather strange and disastrous - it damaged the plant so badly that the plant withered.
There’s certainly a lesson for Jonah to learn from this act of God, but it’s also important that we The Church of today can learn from this act of God.
Not every problem we face is from the evil one, there are times when the Lord himself must bring upon us trouble for the sole purpose of shaking us up and waking us up from our slumber and our lackadaisical attitude to both Him and to life itself. There are times when we become so comfortable with the blessings of God that we tend to think that these blessings were meant for us, and us alone, and forget the fact that we were blessed that we might be a blessing to others as well.
Just as Jonah was grateful for the plant that God provided to protect him from the heat of the sun, we too have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy many of God’s blessings of provision and protection. If we are alive and well during this global pandemic, it’s itself proof of God’s protection over our lives. But if we fail to learn lessons from God’s mercy and protection, the Lord may have to temporarily withdraw His hand of mercy and protection from us to teach us a lesson, just as He did for Jonah. The Lord did that several times in the days of the people of Israel in the Old Testament when they rebelled against the Lord and walked in their own sinful ways. He did this, not to destroy them, but rather out of love for them – to bring them back to Him, and He might have to do the same thing to us The Church if we fail to turn back to Him.
The Lord only needed to prepare a worm – something so small and seemingly insignificant, and that did the job God had prepared for it to do – remove the protection Jonah enjoyed. The worm merely damaged the plant and that was sufficient for it to wither. Could Jonah have expected that a small worm could destroy such divine protection he enjoyed? When God decides to do something, it doesn’t matter what He uses – it will accomplish His purpose.
Similarly, we The Church need to remember that if the Lord wants to get our attention, he can do anything, even use a microscopic virus to infect not only the world but even us The Church. Have we not all experienced the effects of this microscopic, seemingly invisible virus as it infected and even sometimes took the lives of friends, family, and loved ones? This is certainly the Lord’s way of getting the attention of both the world and The Church as well. It’s not enough for us to enjoy God’s protection and provision, we need to acknowledge the giver of it as well. The Lord seems to have a greater message for us The Church as it relates to the world around us, but we will look at that in the next devotion.
And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind
As the morning dawned, the Lord prepared the worm, but then when the sun rose, the Lord prepared something more – a vehement east wind. This is the 5th time we see the Lord preparing or sending something Jonah’s way. The first thing that God sent his way was the tempest that almost destroyed the ship, the sailors, and all. The second thing that God prepared was the big fish to swallow him and eventually vomit him onto dry land so as to save him from the raging waters, the third thing that God prepared was the plant to provide Jonah with shade from the heat of the sun, the fourth was the worm to damage the plant and cause it to wither and then the fifth thing that God prepared was the vehement east wind. If you notice, you’ll find that the same God at certain times sent things Jonah’s way to hurt him and at other times, He sent things Jonah’s way to help him, the former to stop us in our tracks and get us back to Him and the latter, to move us forward to accomplish all that He desired to in our lives when He called us.