What’s the absolute best way to perfectly understand God’s Word? Should we study Hebrew and Greek? Memorize entire books of the Bible? Buy several different translations and read each?
I contend that, while all of these things are good, the best thing we can do to perfectly understand God’s Word is first know His heart. Why do I say that? Only when we know God’s heart will we be sure to hear God’ s message correctly.
I’ve been reading through the book of Jonah lately (you know the guy with the big fish story). One thing that sticks out to me sorely is how Jonah delivers God’s message to the people of Nineveh. In Jonah 3 the prophet brings a message to Nineveh from God: “Yet 40 days and Nineveh will be overturned”. The Ninevites respond with fear and dread. They expect God to destroy them. No surprise there. But what’s surprising is that Jonah expects the same thing too!
Here’s the irony. The first two chapters of Jonah are all about God giving Jonah one chance after another to turn back and obey Him. Even chapter three starts out by saying that God sent His Word to Jonah a second time! So let me get to the point. Jonah’s problem was not that he did not hear the message of God, it’s that He did not understand God’s heart. You see God will not tolerate sin, that is clear (Rev 20-21). But God is also willing to extend mercy time and time again in order that His creation might turn back to Him in repentance (Exodus 34:6, 2 Peter 3:9). Jonah only offered one side of God’s heart to the people of Nineveh. Nowhere do we see him extending the mercy he himself had received to the Ninevites.
At times Christians hear God’s message but miss the point because they have forgotten about G0d’s heart. Around our world today are many lost people who hear the word of God but do not know what kind of God He is. Do you know God’s heart as well as you know His message? It’s the only sure fire way you will understand it completely. How are you helping lost people see God’s heart in it’s entirety? Without your direction how will they know about God’s mercy?
How would you describe God’s heart to someone who has never heard about God?
If someone asked you what God was like, how would you respond?