They that regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation is of Jehovah.
Jonah 2:8-9 ASV
I returned to the United States at the end of August after 15 months abroad. I not only explored three countries (Israel, Wales and Spain) but met scores of people on fire for Jehovah and his Messiah Yeshua and participated in amazing ministries.
It has been good to spend time with loved ones here. Still, the figurative “I’m dying to get back” feels nearly literal at times. I know I will return to Israel and the UK. The question is when. The directive from on high is the nearly unbearable “Wait”.
Late in the morning, after a bit of whining, I took the good counsel from a friend to seek God. I walked to Starbucks for (written) prayer and time in the Word.
On the way there, the Lord told me to read Jonah. Jonah, the reluctant herald of forgiveness and grace. He wanted to see fire and brimstone, but he knew God would spare the repentant (and he had a suspicion that the citizens would repent).
A new lesson jumped out at me (as if the Holy Spirit smacked the back of my head 😉 ).
In chapter 2, Jonah is praying. He’s inside the sea creature that swallowed him, and he’s now seeking God’s face (now?! dang procrastinators, she says while pointing to self). The whole prayer makes a rich study, but verses 8 and 9 grabbed me.
“I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving.” Jonah is being digested by some animal. There is no altar here. So, what does he mean sacrifice? (We see a similar phrase in Hebrews 13:15).
I found the answer in the previous verse. “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” The Hebrew is flexible, so there are different renderings, depending on your translation (all Spirit-inspired, I believe). But for me now, the American Standard Version drove it home… when I looked up vanity.
vanity — excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc. (Dictionary.com)
And notice what Jonah says. Those prides lie. They beguile us.
Still, pride is pride and it hurts to lay it down. And that is why praising God can hurt… can be a sacrifice. Worshiping Him is admitting that we are lying to ourselves… we are powerless… we are helpless… we have no recourse but Him.
I praised… and it hurt… because every promise yet unfulfilled comes flooding back… and I ache. I wait.
So I will praise while I wait. It’s a sacrifice… but really, what else do I have to give to the Creator of all?
Baruch HaShem ADONAI! Blessed be the Name of the LORD.