The Failure of Success the Story of Jonah

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Following through on what God has assigned you to do can be a challenge, especially when it seems easier to just run away. In this booklet, author Bill Crowder shares insights from the life of the prophet Jonah that reveal God’s forgiveness and mercy. Discover how you can succeed in gratefully and obediently taking the mercy God has granted you and sharing it with others who are in need of His love. -
  THE FAILUREOF SUCCESS:The Story Of Jonah MM uch has been publishedabout the principles of success. Success andfailure, however, may be definedin different ways by differentpeople. Is there an absolutestandard for success andfailure? Do we win or do we lose when our accomplishmentscost more than we can afford?In the following pages, Bill Crowder, RBC Director of Church Ministries, brings theseissues into focus by examiningthe life of the Old Testamentprophet Jonah—one man  who personally modeled andexperienced “the failure of success.”  Martin R. De Haan II Managing Editor:David SperCover Photo: © Getty Images/Stone/John Warden Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.Copyright ©1982 by ThomasNelson, Inc.Used by permission.All rights reserved.©2003 RBC Ministries,Grand Rapids,MichiganPrinted in USA CONTENTS A “Successful” Failure. . . 2Succeeding At Failure. . . 4  Jonah’s Concern For Himself At The Expense Of Others(1:1-16) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 God’s ResponseTo Disobedience(1:17–2:10) . . . . . . . . . 13Failing At Success. . . . . 18 Winning The Battle(3:1-10) . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Losing The War (4:1-11) . . . . . . . . . . . . 25The Rest Of The Story. . . . . . . . . . . 31Failure Versus Success. . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.  A “SUCCESSFUL”FAILURE T T  he movie  Apollo 13 tells the story of thereal-life experience of Jim Lovell and his NASA space crew. The purpose of their mission was to landon and explore the moon,but a life-threatening in-flight explosion crippled the spacecraft. Suddenly,the goal changed. MissionControl in Houston spentthe next several days tryingto direct the repair of thedying spacecraft and save the lives of the threeastronauts on board. In theend, the mission was seenas a success because thecrew returned safely. Yet it was also a failure because Apollo 13 never achievedthe srcinal goal of landingon the moon. It was a“successful” failure. The same could be said of the prophetJonah. The book that bears his name shows thatin spite of Jonah’s manypersonal failures, Godsuccessfully directed anamazing rescue.Ironically, the prophecyof Jonah is often seen as apart of the Old Testamentthat reflects the heart of God for the nations of the world. But Jonah, the man,doesn’t deserve the credit.From beginning to end, he was a reluctant participantin God’s mission of mercy.The bigger picture is thatJonah’s failure to care aboutthe people of Ninevehreflected the attitude of his countrymen as well.Together, he and the wholenation of Israel seemedoblivious to the fact thatsomething had gone terribly wrong with the Ninevitesand that their lives werehanging in the balance. The fact that these people who were about to die wereIsrael’s worst enemies is allpart of this amazing story. 2 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.  Introducing TheProphet Jonah. Jonah1:1 starts out: “Now the word of the Lord came toJonah the son of Amittai.”Jonah (which means “dove”in Hebrew) is identified asthe son of Amittai (whichmeans “truthful”). Accordingto 2 Kings 14:25, Jonah  was from Gath Hepher, a village about 2 milesnortheast of Nazareth.Second Kings 14 also helps us to date Jonah’s lifesometime during Jeroboam’sreign from 793–753 BC.Some believe that Jonahbegan to speak on behalf of God about the time theprophet Elisha wasconcluding his work. Understanding The Book Of Jonah. Two keys will prove useful in understanding the realissues in this book.  Key#1: The bookrecords Jonah’s mission toNineveh, but it is written to Israel , who hated Nineveh. Because God uses Jonah toconfront the hatred of Israel,the prophecy of Jonah is asmuch about racism as it isabout missions.  Key#2: Jonah is not theprincipal character of hisown book—  God is! God hasthe first word and the last.He orchestrates the entiredrama to show His love for Israel’s enemies. Asamazing events unfold, wemust not get caught up inthe props and staging. TheLord Jehovah, not Jonah, isthe central character of thisstory.It is this focus that canopen our understanding tothe real message of Jonah— “The Failure Of Success.” 3  Jonah is not theprincipal character of his own book—  God is! © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
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