I read an article recently that started with this question: “If you could sum up the Bible in one verse or short passage, what passage would you pick?”
Surely, many would say John 3:16: “For God so loved the world….” Others might say Matthew 22:37-40: Love God and love your neighbor. Still others might say Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You would surely get some answers from Romans 8, maybe Revelation 21.
But this author chose a surprising verse. He chose Jonah 3:1. It says, “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.”
If you remember the story of Jonah, God came to him with a word to share with the people of Nineveh, but Jonah did everything he could do to flee from his calling—to flee from God. He rebelled by jumping on a boat and trying to outrun God, going the opposite direction of Nineveh. But God is light on His feet, always ready for our maneuvers that keep Him at arm’s length. He sends a storm to run Jonah down and when that doesn’t quite finish the job, he sends a big fish. After three days in the digestive tract of a fish, Jonah is more willing to listen to what God has to say, although with not much of a better attitude.
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”
If I asked someone to do something and they hopped on a boat to get away from me, I think I would ask someone else. Granted, my resources are more limited than God’s but I certainly don’t think I would have the desire to chase them down and ask them again. But I am so glad that God does. I am so glad that He never gives up on me and you. We resist and rebel and he keeps coming back to us, and the word of the Lord comes to us a second time—and if we are honest a third, fourth, or hundredth time. That is the story of the Bible: God’s relentless pursuit of a people that keep resisting. A God who goes after the lost sheep over and over again. We don’t often get it right the first time, but that won’t stop God from coming to you again. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”