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Past Obedience Does Not Guarantee Future Obedience

by Stephen Davey

In the eighth century B.C., the national celebrities of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were not actors, athletes, or even kings; the most famous men were the prophets.

Few were more famous than the prophet Jonah, the one-time apprentice to Elisha—the prophet who inherited Elijah’s ministry and mantle.

After the death of Elisha, Jonah took over as the primary voice of the Lord to the northern tribe of Israel. In fact, long before the events surrounding Jonah’s famous “swim,” he had delivered a rather famous prophecy to the kingdom of Israel, promising the return of some land that had been taken from them. When this prophecy came to pass in 2 Kings 14, the reputation of Jonah grew into the stratosphere.

Unfortunately, that prophecy isn’t the memorable part of Jonah’s life we learned in Sunday school or through watching VeggieTales. What we remember most are the details of Jonah’s disobedience, not the fact that he had spent his life faithfully delivering the word of God to his nation.

The opening verse of Jonah confirms to us that Jonah was indeed a true prophet of God, because “the word of the LORD came to [him]” (Jonah 1:1).

This all serves as a powerful reminder—and warning to us as believers: past obedience does not guarantee future obedience.

Frankly, no one was more deserving to receive a commission from God for a new assignment, and a difficult one at that! But for the next four chapters in a book named after him, Jonah displays failure after failure, even as God continues to work through him.

So, let’s stay alert. Regardless of what you’ve accomplished for Christ in the past, remain vigilant against temptation and diligent in your walk with God.

If you want to explore Jonah in more detail, Stephen's book is available here.

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