We Know Him Not

We flee from the presence of the Lord, fast asleep in the deep of the depths of our souls.

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

The sayings of my mouth.

Expressions that expose what is in my heart, revealing what I perceive to be truth and wisdom.

The meditation of my heart.

To earnestly, deeply think and to murmur with tenderness, evoking a strong emotional response.

Deep calls to deep.

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. (Psalm 42:7 ESV)

As you read, study, meditate and contemplate Jonah’s experience with the deep, his falling and rising, be aware that this is not simply a story about a literal experience of drowning and rescue of Jonah’s body, his flesh. It’s a universal story that is part of every human being’s story. It is a picture of the profound mystery of recovering spiritual truth and rediscovering who we really are, spiritual beings, vessels of mercy through whom the life and power of Christ Jesus himself flows.

Born of water and the Spirit

John 3:5-6 – Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (ESV)

Note how Jonah described his experience with falling:

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”

Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1 ESV)

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah.

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

Call: through the idea of accosting a person met; to call out to i.e. properly, address by name.1

Jonah rose to flee from the presence of the Lord
He paid the fare, went on board, to go with them, away from the presence of the Lord
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea
There was a mighty tempest on the sea
The ship threatened to break apart
The mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god.
But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.

How confident Jonah was in scorning and rejecting the Lord God’s word, preferring to trust his own plans! How secure he was in his corruption and compromise! Illusion. He was fast asleep. Unaware. Down in the inner part.

Awake!

Awake, O sleeper!
Arise! Call out to your God!
Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us.

Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

The sea grew more and more tempestuous

Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”

Isa 30:13-18 – This perverse way of life will be like a towering, badly built wall That slowly, slowly tilts and shifts, and then one day, without warning, collapses — Smashed to bits like a piece of pottery, smashed beyond recognition or repair, Useless, a pile of debris to be swept up and thrown in the trash.” (MSG)

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me — The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do. You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’ [or on a ship headed the opposite direction] You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough! You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’ Do you think your pursuers ride old nags? [or that the Lord God cannot break your ship apart?] Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker. Before a mere five you’ll all run off. There’ll be nothing left of you — a flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off [or a helpless body imprisoned in the belly of a big fish].”

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right — everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. (MSG)

Rescued through suffering.

Job 36:15 – He [Lord God] rescues suffering people through their suffering, and he opens their ears through distress. (MSG)

From what was Jonah suffering? What caused him to leave the presence of the Lord? What had stopped up his ears so that he stubbornly spurned God’s call and directive? Was Jonah aware of what was spoiled and corrupted in his heart and mind before he ran away? Had Jonah’s way of life been tilting and shifting like a badly built wall for a while? Or did Jonah suddenly understand only after the mariners woke him up from sleep, and he experienced the stormy seas dragging him down and down into its depths?

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah
Jonah rose to flee from the presence of the Lord
The Lord God opens the ears of suffering people through distress.
God’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.

Was Jonah aware of the Lord God’s ways and purposes prior to this experience? What did Jonah expect the Lord God’s grace to look and feel like?

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, just as Christ Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights.

Response to suffering.

How did Jonah respond to being swallowed by the fish? Did he respond like Job had initially responded to his suffering?

Job 36:13 – “The godless in heart cherish anger; they do not cry for help when he binds them. (ESV)

Job 36:21 – Take care; do not turn to iniquity, for this you have chosen rather than affliction. (ESV)

Job 36:26 – Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. (ESV)

We know him not.

Ignorance, not knowing him, no experience with him, no firm, fixed gaze with respect and affection on his deeds, walking a path that he has not marked out. Making plans, but not the Lord God’s plans. Making deals, but not in his Spirit.

Isa 5:11-16 – Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands. Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst.

Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her. Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low. But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. (ESV)

But God’s not finished. God’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.

Eph 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (ESV)

Jonah’s story is the story of all of humanity.

We do not regard the deeds of the Lord. We do not see the work of his hands. We lack knowledge. We are hungry. We are parched with thirst. Evidence that we know him not.

From what are you suffering? What has caused you to leave the presence of the Lord? What stops up your ears so that you run from the Lord God? Are you aware that you are asleep in the deep of your soul?

What do you run after for comfort, purpose, and security instead of the Lord God? For what/whom do you tarry? What/who do you regard? Whose work do you regard with respect and affection? Have you experienced exile, hunger, thirst? Have life circumstances humbled you, brought you low?

Do you cherish anger rather than crying out to the Lord God for help in times of distress, loneliness, and pain? Do you resist or do you entrust yourself to affliction’s work? Do you seek comfort and relief with wine when life is hard? Or do you seek the fellowship of the Spirit of God?

Do you know that the Lord God is waiting around to be gracious to you, regardless of how you’ve run from him, ignored him, doubted him, challenged and accused him of wrongdoing? Do you know that he’s gathering strength to show mercy to you? Do you know that God longs for you to know him and the gifts he’s given you, Grace, Love, Fellowship?

God did it for us!

Rom 3:23-24 – Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. (MSG)

Are we living the glorious lives God wills for us? Or are we still asleep, unconscious, not knowing him?

He’s already done it for us!

He’s waiting for you and me and everyone to wake up, arise, respond affirmatively to his call, and see and live through our source of life and his purpose for us.

Job 36:15 – He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity. (ESV)

So that we shall know him! Deeply and intimately. And thereby live the glorious lives God wills for us.

Keep your heart with all vigilance.

Prov 4:23-27 – Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (ESV)

You sleeper!
Arise. Call out to your God.
Vigilant.
Watchful.
Your heart.
Your speech.
Your eyes.
Your feet.
Ponder the path.
Keep your heart with all vigilance.
For from it flow the springs of life.

How do we accomplish this?

We stop fleeing from the presence of the Lord. We awaken from sleep in the deep of our souls as we meditate on the word of the Lord God. The Word. The living Word. Jesus Christ. The wind. The breath of the Almighty. The Spirit of God. The Spirit of God makes us understand.

Be, become, by means of Jesus Christ.
Pure gift. Restoring us to right standing with the Lord God.
Being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.

Return to dust. Malleable clay. Willing to be shaped, changed, molded, trained, guided by the Spirit of God who dwells within us.

Prov 23:26 – My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. (ESV)

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

The meditation of my heart.

Ps 62:1, 5 – For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (ESV)

Wait in silence. Stillness. Quiet. Trust. Fail or perish; destroy. Cease. Be utterly undone. Be brought to silence.1

Interact with the words of Scripture through deep, careful study.

Read the Lord God’s words. Read slowly. Read reflectively. Not just with your mind but with your heart and spirit. Let his words sink in. Ruminate upon his words. Take from them what he wants to give to you.

Meditate. Experience the word of Scripture bodily by moaning, growling, uttering, speaking aloud each word, syllable by syllable. Experience the words of Scripture expressing the longing and desire and hope in the depth of your own soul. Become acquainted with your longing. Anticipate that your soul’s longing will be satisfied, its hunger will be filled with good things, and it will be healed and made complete again. Let the inspired word of God arouse feelings of awe.

Respond by setting your thoughts and emotions aside and let your heart speak to God without words.

Then move beyond logic and reason; move from head to heart to spirit.

Simply rest in God’s words. Listen to God at the deepest level of your inner being. Listen as Love speaks with a still small voice that moves you to silence and an ever-deepening listening in which the Word becomes active and alive in you, gradually transforming you from within.2

2 Cor 13:14 – the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, [is] with you all! Amen. (YLT)

 
Contemplate. Sit quietly without thinking, without murmuring. Simply be. Become conscious of your companions. Longing for you. Your longing for them.

Stay in this place of rest and fellowship for as long as you can.

When finished, select just one word or phrase and carry it with you all day, thinking about it, murmuring it, holding it, treasuring it. Let it soak deep into your soul. Tomorrow, meditate on the entire text again. Select the same word or phrase or a different one to carry with you all day, thinking about it, murmuring it, holding it, treasuring it. Do this practice every day. Let God’s Word begin to fill your soul with good things.

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. (Ps 119:15-16 MSG)

 

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8 ESV)

 

Ask the Lord God to make you aware of the breath of the Almighty in you. Believe him when he says his breath makes you understand. Make no demands. Let all expectations go. Wait patiently. For it depends not on human will or effort, but on God who has mercy.

Becoming aware of the breath of the Almighty in you is an experience of making a new acquaintance, the beginning in developing an intimate friendship like no other. It requires that you learn to hear from a different place than your ears. That you understand from a deeper place than your mind. From that place where deep calls to deep.

Read the following scripture text and note what word or words catch your attention. What questions immediately come to mind? What emotions, desires, fears… surface?

Prov 20:27 – The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts. ESV

What is the Lord God searching for in your innermost parts? What is coming to light as you participate with him in the search?

2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (ESV)

Ask the Lord God to teach you how to participate with him in making his words become reality in your inner being and spill out into your external life.

 

*****

Resources/For deeper study:

1Wait in silence: OT:1747 <START HEBREW>hY*m!WD<END HEBREW> duwmiyah (doo-me-yaw’); from OT:1820; stillness; adverbially, silently; abstractly quiet, trust:

OT:1820 <START HEBREW>hm*D*<END HEBREW> damah (daw-mam’); a primitive root; to be dumb or silent; hence, to fail or perish; trans. to destroy: KJV – cease, be cut down (off), destroy, be brought to silence, be undone,  utterly. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

2Lectio Divina as described by the 12th century Carthusian monk called Guigo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guigo_II

1 thought on “We Know Him Not

  1. “94. The principle of grace has to pass through many trials in order to reach the human race – that is, the Church of the Gentiles – just as Jonah had to pass through many trials before he arrived at the great city of Nineveh. Only then does it persuade the ruling law of nature to rise from its throne – that is, to abandon its former evil disposition due to its involvement with the senses; to remove its robe – that is, to expunge the vanity of worldly glory from its conduct ; to cover itself with sackcloth – that is, with mourning, and with the difficult rough training in hardship such as befits a life lived according to God; and to sit in ashes – symbolizing poverty of spirit, in which everyone who is learning to live a devout life sits, lashed by his conscience because of the sins he has committed (cf. Jonah 3:1-9).” – St. Maximos the Confessor – Philokalia – P 495

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