A Story of Two Missionaries-August 15, 2012
Scripture: Jonah 1 & 3, Isaiah 6
The Story of Two Missionaries is meant more to describe the importance of the call and the willingness to be used by God. In choosing to be obedient to the call of God upon our lives will not necessarily bring success by the world’s standards or even our own. If success is defined as faithfulness, then we all have the opportunity to live out the call God has placed on each of us. If you are one of His, then He has something for you to do. There is no age too early to start and no retirement this side of glory. Let’s look at two very different examples in the Bible.
Jonah was a reluctant prophet (missionary). He did not want to go to Nineveh. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he was concerned that they people may repent and not get what he thought was coming to them. So he ran. He ran away from Nineveh, and away from God (so he thought). In doing so the Bible describes him as going down to Joppa, down into a boat, and before it is over down in the belly of a great fish to the bottom of the sea. There was nowhere he could run from the calling God had given him, and it appears that it is about God all along.
Chapter 3 the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, and this time he goes. Jonah was obedient, but not enthusiastically obedient. He basically does the bare minimum, but lives are being changed because they have heard from God. It was this obedience that made all the difference in the lives of the people of Nineveh. Jonah, however, always seemed to remain sour. He continued to be upset with God for His mercy which was really the same mercy God also gave Him.
Then there is Isaiah. Isaiah found himself at a time of national tragedy and uncertainty after King Uzziah died, in the presence of God. The King of Kings, the one who will be our constant even in uncertain times. He sees and understands he is in the presence of God and recognizes rightly his personal condition and that of his people before God and fears for his life. The Lord provided cleansing and then asks who will go, and Isaiah responds “Here am I. Send me!” Here is two very different pictures one of Jonah and one of Isaiah and we might be tempted to think well Isaiah had it easy, not so.
God tells Isaiah up front you will likely preach to them the rest of your life with no result. Isaiah remained faithful for the next 40 plus years preaching with little to no result. He was faithful, but by some definition unsuccessful. Looking back at these two with a few thousand years in between, Jonah seems to be more remembered for his disobedience and being swallowed and thrown up by a big fish. Was he successful? Scripture tells us that the city returned to God and was spared, but most sermons these days do not emphasize the “success” but the sourness of his attitude and the greatness of God’s mercy.
Isaiah on the other hand knew from the beginning that things would not be pretty and this would be his life’s work yet he choose obedience. It is from Isaiah that we have much of the blueprint for the Messiah. Isaiah tells of how He would be born, and His lineage. His messages containing the change of the hearts of people and the peace that will come. Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant that Jesus identifies as Himself. In our day and time we look at some many links to the faithful word of Isaiah in his time and ours, as we hope for and long for the promised peace to finally rest upon creation. What a legacy.
Which one would you be the reluctant, sour, but briefly successful missionary, or the one whose faithfulness has nourished for thousands of years even if the impact may seem small now. God’s word will not return void, but the success is not measured in our time but to an eternal God who calls, and sends. Will we be faithful to trust beyond the span of our life that obedience to Him was worth it?
Words to our commissioned missionaries. Be obedient to the call, trust His strength, and stick together.
Be obedient to the call:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” Matthew 24:14
Trust His strength:
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. Ecclesiastes 4:12