Jonah or Hosea?

Two Ways of Doing What God Says

Sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t really want to—like going and warning your mortal enemies to repent or die, or asking you to marry the last person on the planet you’d ever want to. How we respond to these unpleasant assignments has a lot to do with our character. It also determines how much benefit we experience in fulfilling God’s plan.

As we saw earlier this month, when Jonah was ordered by YHWH to go to Ninevah and cry out against it, his first response was to run the opposite direction. After a bit of discipline from the Lord, he did as he was told—but not with a willing heart.

Therefore, when the people at the Assyrian capital responded with humility and repentance, Jonah was terribly unhappy—so much so that he wanted to die. God took pity on a city with a population well over 120,000, but Jonah didn’t take pleasure in the miracle at all. He was too stuck on how much they had abused Israel and how they had escaped destruction, because he warned them of their impending doom. Jonah preferred God’s judgment over mercy. He was more concerned about being right than righteous.

Hosea, on the other hand, was given an even more shocking assignment: Go marry a prostitute and have a family with this unfaithful woman. Can you imagine what a blow this would have been to a good Jewish fellow? All his life he had remained pure, waiting for the day he would pledge himself to a woman who had saved herself just for him. Imagine his surprise when the Lord ordered him to marry, not a virgin, but a woman who had sold herself to sin!

Had he responded like Jonah, he would have run from the will of God to escape the humiliation of such a request. No one would have faulted him for avoiding the ridicule of hundreds, who would have recognized Gomer and laughed at Hosea for marrying a ‘tainted’ woman. He could’ve cited God’s law, like Peter who said, “No, Lord! I have never eaten food that is unholy or unclean,” when God asked him to go against His own ceremonial law (Acts 10:14, NCV).

Yet Hosea looked beyond the personal cost of obedience and made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of God and country. He did as YHWH asked, and experienced the joy of fatherhood, along with the satisfaction of fulfilling the Lord’s plan for his life. In so doing, he served as a picture of God’s unfailing love for Israel—and for us.

I don’t want to be like Jonah—dragging my feet or reluctantly doing what He says and grousing about the outcome. I want to be like Hosea, stifling my natural inclinations and willingly submitting to His will, even when it contradicts or postpones my hopes and dreams.

I feel like I’m being asked to do that very thing. I’ve just left the most beautiful place on the planet—the city that feels more like home to me than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. Now I’m looking for a job and a place to rent in the city I left years ago, with the intention of never coming back for more than a few days’ visit.

Every ounce of my human flesh cries, “No, God! It’s too much to ask.” But the Spirit tells me, “Wait and see. What the Father has for you is so much better than you can imagine, if you will only trust and obey Him.” I have no idea what lies ahead, but I am determined to do what He says with a humble and willing heart. I am eagerly seeking a silver lining in what looms like a dark cloud in my life.

Oh, Lord Jesus, be my treasure, my reward! May my heart count every sacrifice as a worthwhile investment in Your eternal kingdom. And may souls be added to the Father’s family because of what they find in me. Amen.