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The Heart of God in the Heart of the Sea

Devotion Thirteen

April 17, 2024

Driven from God's Sight

Daniel Barta

Jonah willfully packed up his bags so that he might flee from the presence of God. He ran not only from Nineveh but from YAHWEH. He longed to get away from God and He proudly shared his heart's desire with the sailors. Interestingly however, when Jonah found himself in the bottom of the sea, he claimed,

You [the LORD] threw me into the depths... I have been banished from your sight... (Jon 2:3-4).

Jonah understood that God had judged him. He was guilty and God acted against him because of His sin. He rejected the LORD, so the LORD drove him away from His presence. YAHWEH Gave Jonah what He desired.

Amazingly, down in the depths and aware of the LORD"s judgment against him, just exercised faith by turning to the LORD for help knowing that he only deserved death.

yet I will look once more toward your holy temple. - Jonah 2:4b

This turning to the temple did not signify a spatial direction. In the belly of a swish swimming around at the bottom of the sea, Jonah in no way would have known east from west and north from south. Rather than a directional turning, Jonah experienced a turning of the heart. He ran from the LORD's presence. God drove Him from His own presence, but at this point he turns again to the presence of the LORD. He looked with his heart to YAHWEH. He longed again to see and know and experience God. He loathed being away from the presence of the LORD and turned once again towards the one he had forsaken.

There in Sheol, Jonah's faith gave expression. He turned his eyes back toward the temple - the presence of God - longing again to be restored to His presence. Possessing a measure of hope and faith that God would show mercy, Jonah turned to the judge who had sentenced him to Sheol and by faith asked for help.

God Welcomes Sinners Again to His Presence

In Jonah being cast away from God's presence and then being returned, we see the heart of the gospel. The gospel, first and foremost is the good news that God reconciles sinners to Himself.

Humanity began in the presence of God. There, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve enjoyed fellowship with the LORD as they together enjoyed His creation. Everything operated as it should. Pleasure, delight, joy, love, and oneness defined their experienced. They were with God and He was with them and together they knew heart level satisfaction and joy.

But Adam and Eve, sinned against God. They like Jonah rejected Him by rejecting His command. They rebelled. In response, God judged them. He exiled them out of the garden - away from His presence. As a result, all their descendants are born alienated from the life and love of God. Their hearts and minds are blind to His glory, and they know not the joy of His fellowship. They are cast away into the depths as Jonah was.

But, God sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile sinners back to joyful fellowship with Him. By His death, Jesus tore down the dividing wall of hostility. God in Christ ripped in two the curtain which stood between man and the presence of God. Though men have been by God's judgement have been placed under death, they too like Jonah may return again if like Jonah they will by faith repent and turn once again to Him.

This is the great news of the gospel. In God all you need and all you desire is found. He is the source of life and joy in the fullest, and even to sinners like you and me He is available.

Look to the Temple

In Acts 3, Peter, one of Jesus twelve disciples preached the gospel to a crowd in the temple at Jerusalem. There he told of Jesus, the servant King God promised to send for their salvation and restoration. Rather than receiving God's Son who came to dwell with them, they rejected Him. They cut Him off from their presence and worked to have Him executed. They sent Him outside their city and hung him from a cross.

But Peter was quick to offer them the gospel. They were guilty. They were far from God. But times of refreshing in the presence of LORD were possible if they repented of their sin and turned back to Him.

19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, - Acts 3:19-20

Are you weary? Do you know dissatisfaction? Is your heart dried up and joyless? The life-giving presence of God is available to you. Run to Him. Look to him again. Draw near to Him. Turn your heart to Him. Those who seek Him will find Him, and those who find Him will discover that He is worthy of their pursuit.

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