Joseph or Jonah?

Joseph • Devotion #6: Obedience – Joseph or Jonah?
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” Matthew 1:24-25

We have been looking at Joseph all week, and we end with his obedience. He found himself in an impossible situation; a difficult decision needed to be made. I am sure as he was looking at the options, he believed he chose the best possible path that both helped and protected Mary and removed himself from it. God had other plans.

God had other plans. It can be terrifying coming to that realization, it can be freeing coming to that realization, but that realization always means stepping out in faith. What do we do when we are faced with difficult situations? Do we listen to God? Do we try and make it go away with a nice little bow? Joseph, when faced with a command from God, chose to listen, even though it was difficult, even though it meant a monumental change to his life, he obeyed. He obeyed, not begrudgingly, but with reverence and honor toward God. Obedience can be ridiculously difficult, even for someone like me who is a rule follower, I still find it difficult to be obedient when it is uncomfortable or means doing something, quite frankly, I do not want to do.

I always think of Jonah when I think of obedience. In Jonah 1:1-2, God told Jonah to go to Ninevah, “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.’” You continue to read, and you see that Jonah flees and goes far away from Nineveh. Knowing the whole story, seeing God’s redemption and Jonah’s inevitable obedience, makes me shake my head when Jonah flees multiple times and finds himself in the belly of a large fish. Why did he not just obey the first time? He knows God is sovereign, he knows God’s plan will overcome, yet he ran because he did not want to be uncomfortable. Can we be honest right now? Most of the time we are Jonah, not Joseph. We fight God’s will, we fight His commands, and then we are shocked to find ourselves in the belly of a large fish. See the difference between Jonah and Joseph is not disobedience versus obedience. Instead, it is how obedience with a humble and worshipful heart can change you, allow you to experience a life only the Creator of the Universe can provide.

If you keep reading Jonah’s story, you see that he obeys, and he gets to witness God rescue people that were headed toward destruction. Jonah 3:5 says, “And the people of Nineveh believed God.” God allowed Jonah to be the tool that brought thousands to the saving grace of God, yet Jonah was annoyed with God for using him. He knew God could have rescued them without him; he could have stayed in his comfortable life, without taking any risks. How many times do we see God’s amazing work and we get annoyed because it is inconvenient and uncomfortable for us? Joseph, however, obeyed, with joy and although he still had a difficult road, it was a road full of God’s love, grace, glory, and His Son. It was difficult and uncomfortable, but Joseph recognized the unimaginable honor to be used by God. So, how will you obey? Will you be a Jonah or a Joseph?

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