Have you seen A&E’s TV show, Intervention? I’m not a regular watcher but I’ve caught bits of the show a handful of times. The confrontation by the family and friends of a person trapped in destructive behaviour is full of tension and is unpleasant for everyone involved but the motivation for family to take such strong action is always love and the knowledge their loved one is capable of much more. They know their loved one is on a destructive path that ultimately leads to death. They also know their spouse/child/friend feels powerless to change and if he or she could think clearly, he or she would choose to live life differently.
It’s fair to say if the family/friends took strong action to save their loved one from self-destruction, no one would rebuke them for their action and yet, too often we rebuke God for violating our free will. The truth is, at time, God may choose to do an intervention based on an on-going love relationship, as in the example of Jonah.
Jonah was running away from God and God pursued him relentlessly, making an abrupt end to Johan’s plans. Jonah was called a prophet of God and it indicates a close covenant relationship with God despite current differences of opinion. At one time, Jonah made a decision, of his own free will, to be a prophet of God. It was not a casual decision. It required great responsibility on Jonah’s part but the pay-off was God’s abiding presence and Spirit resting on him.
A covenantal relationship is complex and multi-faceted. The best definition I’ve come across to understand a covenant relationship is the willingness to be defined by the other person (or group). They belong to each other. Jonah belonged to God, and God belonged to Jonah. Therefore, when Jonah was trapped in destructive behaviour, God went looking for him to save him from himself. It is an expression of love.
Those who are not in a relationship with the Creator are not under the same covenantal agreement with him. Although it grieves the heart of the Father because he knows them because they were created by him, and he knows their potential destiny but he will not violate their will.
A Biblical example of someone not in a relationship with God is Balaam – a false prophet. (You can read about his Biblical account here.) He was a false prophet, not because he prophesied incorrectly but because his heart was bent toward personal gain and he had not entered into a covenant relationship with God, the giver of his prophetic gift; psychics and fortune tellers are modern-day false prophets.
Balaam had an encounter with God but he remained unchanged and God did not pursue him. To be honest, it terrifies me to think if I lose my way and God did not move to save me, then how truly lost am I? Unfortunately, that is the reality for many.
Does God force himself on us, ignoring our free will? No, but he will relentlessly pursue his covenantal people to move back into a right relationship and fast track us to our intended destiny.