Let the 'Jonahs' Stop Drinking Their Bitter Cups
Yesterday, as I was about to make a cup of coffee in the afternoon before we did our prayers together, I heard something interesting.
We have two kinds of coffee in the freezer- one a delicious French Vanilla, and another a bitter one I bought on sale, that I don't think I would buy again. I was about to enjoy the French Vanilla, when I heard this thought, "don't drink that one, have the bitter one." It was like an impression, rather than word for word. I said, OK, and started making the bitter one, and I heard the phrase, "drinking the bitter cup of disobedience." I felt it wasn't referring to me, but I knew I had to pray about it.
As usual, I felt, if this is of the Lord, it will be confirmed in Scripture. It was so unusual- but sometimes, this is how God speaks- through the ordinary things of life, showing a deeper, even prophetic meaning. For example, we have seen bald eagles now for several days- and a local man said to us, "that is rare" around here. It's not a totem, as in Native American spiritism, etc., but God can speak through these signs as well. Yet, all has to be confirmed through Scripture- as Scripture itself declares, not all dreams and revelations, not all words a person gives to us may be from the Lord. (Jer. 23:25) This is why discernment, Ignatian and otherwise, is so important.
When I came into the living room, I immediately looked up what I had heard. I found it in the Good News Translation of the Bible, from Obadiah, a book I have never read. It reads, "My people have drunk a bitter cup of punishment on my sacred hill. But all the surrounding nations will drink a still more bitter cup of punishment; they will drink it all and vanish away." (Obad. 1:16)
Of course, it does not say, "bitter cup of disobedience," which is what I had heard. So, I looked deeper, ready to throw away what I heard as a passing thought. When I read the Hebrew, I was shocked. When it says in the GNT, "have drunk a bitter cup of punishment," the literal Hebrew is שָׁתָה, transliterated into English as šāṯâ, and it means literally to drink, but contextually from Scripture it also means "of drinking cup of God's wrath, of slaughter, of wicked deeds (fig)." (link)
Therefore, drinking a bitter cup of disobedience, what I had heard, is Scriptural in the sense that when people commit wicked deeds- that is, going against God's commandments or instructions, they end up drinking a bitter cup. They reap the fruit of what they sowed in disobedience, another Scripture:
"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors." (Hos. 10:12-13)
If we do what the Lord says to do, even if it doesn't make sense at the time, we will be happy, reaping the fruit of righteousness (right living). If we go against God- if we do our own thing, we will eat bitter fruit. "There is a way which seemeth just to a man: but the ends thereof lead to death." (Prov. 14:12) Jesus said, "Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38) It is our responsibility to find out what God wants us to do, because disobedience is not only going against the 10 commandments, but also the instructions God gives us in prayer. For example, a person whom the Lord tells to move to a new location, marry a certain person, do a certain thing, and doesn't fulfill it.
I felt what I heard was of the Lord- it was not something I would think of myself- and it was confirmed in Scripture, a much deeper revelation than I expected. If you look at the Scripture from Obadiah in context, it reveals a lot more.
"For the day of the Lord is at hand upon all nations: as thou hast done, so shall it be done to thee: he will turn thy reward upon thy own head.  For as you have drunk upon my holy mountain, so all nations shall drink continually: and they shall drink, and sup up, and they shall be as though they were not.  And in mount Sion shall be salvation, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess those that possessed them.  And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble: and they shall be kindled in them, and shall devour them: and there shall be no remains of the house of Esau, for the Lord hath spoken it. " (Obadiah 1:15-19) (link)
People who go their own way, and do not do what the Lord said to do, are like Jonah- "as thou hast done, so shall it be done to thee." (15) He ended up in the belly of the fish because of his own actions! (like this modern-day Jonah, man swallowed by a whale- maybe he was running from his calling) People are drinking the cup of their own disobedient decisions! Those that are in mount Sion- praise and worship, dwelling in God's presence in the secret place- "shall be holy" (17) and shall bring renewal and transformation in the Church through their ministries (18). "Jacob have I loved, and Esau, I have hated."(Mal. 1, Rom. 9) Why? Because Jacob was obedient to God, had a relationship with God and sought to do what he said- Esau was only interested in his own flesh, making pleasure for himself, his own security.
People that are disobedient to God's directions- this includes people who don't take the time to find out what God wants for their lives- end up vanishing (16)- "there shall be no remains of the house of Esau." (19) What they do, even if they do it for God and the service of the Church, won't last or bear any fruit, because it did not come from God's direction.
Perhaps God is bringing the "Jonahs" back in this time, giving people a chance to sit down and seek the Lord (Hos. 10), to find out what He wants them to do, and to do it. It's time to stop blaming God or others, or getting discouraged about being in the belly of the fish, where it is dark and depressing, etc. Maybe we have been drinking our own bitter cup, and it's time to partake of the new wine of His joy-
"Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance: at thy right hand are delights even to the end." (Ps. 16:11) We have to spend time close to the Lord to find out His "ways of life" for us. Many people don't spend time with the Lord, because they are afraid of what He may ask them to do, or not do.
"WHEN MAN DISOBEYS GOD and refuses to submit to his rule, nature rebels against him and no longer recognizes him as its “master,” for he has tarnished the divine image in himself. " (Pope St. John Paul II, + Solicitudo Rei Socialis 1988).
Come back to me, with all your heart/ Don't let fear, keep us apart
I won't be buying the bitter coffee again, even if it is cheaper. We want the best of God's calling. Just like disobedience, in the long run bitter coffee can harm the stomach. In this season of Lent, let us pray and intercede for those who are living out of God's perfect will for them. May we ourselves come to live in the Father's perfect plan for us, the sweetness of the Lord that comes from His Word. (Psalm 119:103)
In the Father's Love,
Dan and Lee Anne