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Contemplations on the Book of Jonah, by Pope Shenouda III

20- God Likes Reasoning with Humans

 

Nearly the whole of chapter four of the Book of Jonah is centered on this sole fact: that God likes to reason with His children; discuss with them, explain to them and reach with them a conclusion, convincing them and satisfying their hearts in the discussion.

It is true that in the Book of Jonah God gave us examples of punishments and warnings, yet there are also examples of reasoning.

God's love for reasoning is clear throughout the Holy Bible: ... “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord" (Is. 1:18). The story of the burning of Sodom gives us a clear picture of how God reasoned with Abraham (Gen. 19). Also the Lord reasoned with Moses the Prophet and carried out for him his own opinion (Ex. 32).

St-Takla.org Image: Pride and meekness, repentance صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: الكبرياء و تواضع، التوبة

St-Takla.org Image: Pride and meekness, repentance

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: الكبرياء و تواضع، التوبة

The Holy Bible gives us a marvelous picture of how God reasons with man. God does not intend every time He reasons with us to convince us with something He imposes on us, but He may condescend to our opinion and agree with us as He did when He reasoned with Moses and relented from the evil which He said He would do, and did not do it.

God reasoned with Jonah, and it was He who began. He said to Jonah, "Come Jonah! Let us reason together and do not be angry", "Is it right for you to be angry."", and Jonah replied: "It is right for me to be angry even to death!" God was not displeased from Jonah's reply, but He began to convince him practically and verbally that Nineveh should have been spared.

God does not use His mightiness in fulfilling His will. He does not use the term 'I said so, so it should be'. This manner is found with man. And man sometimes is unsure of his honor and wishes to confirm it by forcing his opinion. It is an inferiority complex in man and is not found in God who is absolute perfection, who sees that He does not decrease when He reasons with man and when it appears to us that He changed His opinion.

Amazingly enough, God in His reasoning with Jonah, did not look at the great difference between them. He did not say: "Who is this Jonah that I should reason with him? I am the Creator of all and the Lord of all. It does not befit Me to reason with a handful of dust and ashes!" No, He did not say so.

We notice these days that nations reason with each other according to the standard: heads of state with heads of state, kings with kings, prime ministers with prime ministers, ambassadors with ambassadors, consuls with consuls, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. It can never happen that a head of state would talk with a chairman or a secretary of a governorate. He would say that such a person is not up to the level to negotiate with me. He can negotiate with a person of his standard.

But God did not do that with Jonah. He did not say: "I will not reason with him directly. I can send him an angel or a prophet like him! Or send him another whale to reason with him! But God condescended to reason with Jonah, and reason with him directly with no mediator, and convince him.

Some may ask: What need is there for You to reason with Jonah, O Lord, and convince him? You are the all wise God. Jonah is supposed to believe in Your wisdom and believe that Your disposal is unquestionably right. There is no need to convince him. Your word is enough. If he did not believe in the wisdom of Your judgment he would have greatly erred and is worthy of punishment. Jonah must obey and submit and has no right to dispute or reason with God.

But God is not like this. He is compassionate and kind. He says: "I will go down to Jonah to lift him up to My level. I will reason with him in order to win him. I do not want to lose this dust.

I want to win all by satisfaction and not by compulsion. Jonah must enjoy my tolerance and realize that I do not become intolerant with him no matter how much he goes astray.

The story of God in the Old Testament is a story of reasoning. When He sent prophets and messengers it was but a means of reasoning on His part.

God does not impose His will nor is He a dictator in His dealings. He is an exemplar of reasoning. Even in His dealings with us now He wants to reason with us.

He gave us prayer in order to reason with Him.

If God does not like reasoning, what is then the use of praying to Him, talking and conversing with Him? Is it not true that He not only allowed us to reason with Him but also allowed that we wrestle with Him and persist with Him? Did not Jacob wrestle with Him until morning saying: "I will not leave You... ", as though he had power or authority not to let go of Him!

The meekness of God reached the extent of even reasoning with Satan himself!

We notice that this is clear in the story of Job the righteous. God said to the Devil, "Have you considered My servant Job?" And Satan answered: "Does Job fear God for nothing?" And Satan takes from God permission to test Job in order to prove his words.

It is the principal of equal opportunity enjoyed by Satan also.

God also reasoned with Satan in the Temptation in the Wilderness. The Lord went on answering him verse for verse and did not rebuke him except when he became intolerable.

Until now, God wants to reason with us yet we refuse.

Another lesson we learn from the story of Jonah is that all God's dispositions end in success.

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