Tag Archives: Jonah

Roundup

Stan on Lessons from Jonah — Jonah is such a great book.  I almost wish the fish part wasn’t there, because it is so easy for people to get distracted by that and to miss the other important themes.

Among other things, the book of Jonah is a strong rebuke to the entertainment mentality of the modern church.  He was one of the most reluctant, non-entertaining preachers ever, yet by (eventually) doing God’s will and preaching his word countless people repented.

It is a short and simple book.  Go read the entire thing today!

Why I Changed My Mind About Baptism – the author switched views from infant to believer’s baptism.  I think the paedobaptist side overplays the continuity card.  To me the continuity is that both are done at birth: circumcision was done at physical birth and baptism at spiritual birth. But I don’t like it when people get huffy or divisive on the topic.

When people insist that the Democrats aren’t really after all guns, remember Obamacare (where they were caught on camera many times saying that it was a step towards single-payer, while publicly denying they wanted single-payer) and that quotes like this: Dem Rep. Jan Schakowsky: I’m not so sure we can’t ban handguns entirely.  History shows that they reluctantly go with an incremental approach.  Don’t be fooled or shamed into believing otherwise.

From the “I am not making this up category” – while the Obama administration is making citizens as miserable as possible with their faux sequester cuts, they leave things in the budget like $1,500,000 to study why lesbians are fat.  Maybe it never occurred to them that fat women are more likely to say they are lesbian, just like guys who can’t get girls are more likely to say it is because they are gay.  Then they dive into the sinful lifestyle a la Romans 1 and stay there.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese and why gay males are not, calling it an issue of “high public-health significance.”

The sad part is that you could publish a story about ridiculous multi-million dollar spending not just every day but every hour of the day.  Maybe more often.

Things the media never tells you: The pedophiles are emboldened from the advances of the LGBTQX lobby: Larry Kramer Says Children ‘Desire, Solicit Sex’ with Homosexual Adults

Celebrated activist says most “gay” men victimized as boys have “fond memories” of early sexual experience

Since its inception through “Lambda Report,” the newsletter launched in 1993 that was the precursor to Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), we have been at the forefront of exposing the homosexuality-pedophilia connection, including “gay” activists’ advocacy and tolerance of sex between men and boys.

Read the entire article.  This is what the pro-gay theology people are bringing us.

Forcing your view: Everyone does it – Nice job by John pointing out how the “forcing your view” argument is meaningless.

That sound bite is often used in the pro-abortion area, but as with nearly all of their arguments, it ignores the human being killed in the procedure.  Someone is obviously forcing their morality on her as they crush her skull and rip her limbs off.  Yet none of the pro-aborts would accuse someone of “forcing their views” if they stopped someone from killing a toddler in the same manner.

One of my favorite things to do when people play the phony “You’re forcing your religious views on me!!” card is to ask them to point me to anywhere on the great big Interwebs where they have been equally strident in opposing the religious Left.  After all, if “forcing religious views” was such a horrible thing, they should be actively protesting the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, all the fake denominations pushing taxpayer-funded abortion and oxymoronic “same-sex marriage,” increased taxes, etc.

I’ve yet to get anything besides crickets chirping in response.

Gay activists pressure DC Comics to fire pro-marriage author Orson Scott Card

It’s very important to see which side of the same-sex marriage debate features the real bigots and the real bullies.

Whoops!  Green cars not so green.

A 2012 comprehensive life-cycle analysis in Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that almost half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially the battery. The mining of lithium, for instance, is a less than green activity. By contrast, the manufacture of a gas-powered car accounts for 17% of its lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.

Another good one from Stan – for when they call you a Pharisee

So, when someone tells me I’m “pharisaical”, what should I conclude? Maybe I’ll be generous. “Oh, really? How kind! I don’t know that I really think of myself as someone whose righteousness exceeds most, but I do appreciate the kind thought.” Or, “Oh, my, you shouldn’t say so! Sure, I’m diligent about searching the Scriptures, but shouldn’t we all?” Maybe, “Yes, I do believe that Scripture is applicable to today and, no, I don’t believe we should assimilate our society’s sin rather than remain pure. Thanks for noticing.” Maybe I’ll be careful. “You know, I do not want to be a hypocrite that requires of others what I’m not willing to do for God. Could you point out exactly what it is I’m doing like that?” “I really hope that I’m not the self-righteous type. I know that the only righteousness I have comes from God. It would be beneficial to me if you could point out how I’m being self-righteous rather than pointing to Him.” But it is my suspicion that when people call me “pharisaical”, they are not accusing me of being godly or of being hypocritical. It is my suspicion that they don’t like me pointing to Scripture and calling it the genuine “Word of God”, urging repentance, and calling on me and you and everyone else to live by it. And that, dear readers, is not actually “pharisaical”.

Hypocrites.

About those “red letters”

I’m wary of groups that just focus on the “red letters,” that is, the direct quotes of Jesus in the Bible.  I’ve yet to come across a “red letter” Christian who wasn’t up to something mischievous.  Here’s an example from a recent USA Today / Facebook thread where a pro-abortion person claiming the name of Christ was making all sorts of odd theological statements.

And I do NOT agree with the parts in the Bible that are utterly ridiculous. But, JESUS’ WORDS ARE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY.

My response:

That would just be amusing if it wasn’t so typical of the “Christians” in this country. If you actually read the Bible and took it seriously, you’d see that creating a god in your own image is a serious affront to the real God. And that is exactly what you are doing when you pick and choose what you think was “really” the word of God.  That is basic Leopard Theology, where people claim that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

Jesus specifically referred to Adam and Eve, Noah and Jonah as real people and Sodom & Gomorrah as a real place that was destroyed. So even by your own words you agree with him on those controversial topics. And He said that marriage was for one man and one woman, so I’m sure you oppose “same-sex marriage.” And He said that not only is murder wrong, but unrighteous anger, so of course He opposes abortion. And He said people will die in their sins if they don’t believe in him, so I’m sure you spread that truth. And He agreed with every last letter of the Old Testament. And so on.

Are you sure you’ve read what Jesus said? Because your statements are contradictory.

As I noted in a recent comment on another post, the words of Matthew are no more authoritative than the words of Paul, James, Isaiah, etc.  They all turned out just the way God and the original writers wanted them to.

Historical or metaphorical?

Some people think the books of Job and Jonah are fictional.  I tend to think they were real, especially in the case of Jonah.  I base this on the way Jesus mentioned Jonah plus a reference in 2 Kings, as well as how the whole book of Jonah reads (the big fish is actually a small part of the story).  The case for Job is more mixed.

Matthew 12:39-41 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”

2 Kings 14:25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

However, I don’t think it is essential that people share my views.  I would rather someone disagree on whether the books are historical than to insist that someone must hold one view or the other to be considered a Christian.

Jonah 4

Greetings!  This reading is Jonah 4.

Jonah 4 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

This would have been a good spot for Jonah to say, “Great point, Lord!  I have no right at all to be angry.  I should rejoice at your mercy and grace.”  But He didn’t say that. 

Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

Note God’s amazing patience with Jonah!   

Just a little side note – God was concerned about the cattle as well as the humans.  Of course, He considers humans to be much more important, but this is one of many verses that display God’s love for animals.  I did a post on my other blog about “Who will you see in Heaven?” and we discussed the concept of animals in Heaven a bit there.

I find verse 2 to be one of the most interesting verses in the Bible:  “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. ”  While much of the world pictures God as angry and unforgiving, consider that one of his prophets was angry enough to die because he “knew” that God abounded in love, and more.

Consider how the story ends.  Jonah never does come around completely to God’s way of thinking (at least not in the portion documented in the Bible).  God has exercised remarkable patience with the Ninevites and with Jonah. 

Praise God for his incredible patience with us as we wrestle with him as Jonah did.  And pray that we let God transform our minds so we can think more like He does and follow Christ more closely.

 Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Psalm 4.  I thought we would do 3-5 Psalms, then a couple chapters of Proverbs, then I’m open to suggestions.

Jonah 3

Greetings!  This reading is Jonah 3.

Jonah 3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.

Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

Note the simplicity and power of the message.  Jonah obeyed (finally!).  The Ninevites, including their king, believed God and repented.  God was gracious and merciful to them. 

Sometimes we can over-complicate the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.  If you look at the book of Acts, which chronicles the early years of the church, the Gospel is shared thirteen times in a somewhat similar pattern.  People are made aware of their problem (sinners separated from a perfect, Holy, righteous God) and the solution (Jesus, the Savior of the world, who died in their place and who offers complete forgiveness and reconciliation if they will only put their faith in him). 

Sometimes we jump ahead and forget to point out that people need to know their problem before they hear the solution.  Otherwise, they don’t think they need the solution.

It is easy to be hard on Jonah, but then I remember how many times I have done the opposite of what God wanted me to do.  I praise him for his unending mercy and grace. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Jonah 4.

Jonah 2

Greetings!  This reading is Jonah 2.

Jonah 2 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.

I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.

But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

The text isn’t crystal clear on the three day and three night timeline, but it appears that as soon as Jonah repented and prayed that God delivered him.  Jonah could have done this before he got on the ship, when he was on the ship, or immediately after being swallowed by the fish, but he waited until it was almost too late.  It reminds me of Daniel 9:23, where the angel says, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given . . .”  God answers prayers with his perfect timing.  If an urgent answer is needed, then that’s what you’ll get. 

Verse 8 is very powerful and is a good one to memorize: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  When we cling to idols of pride, false religions, money, sex, work, power, relationships, entertainment, etc. then we are missing out on the grace that God offers.   Grace is the most unique feature of the Christian faith.  The complete, unearned forgiveness of sins and restoration to God is seen nowhere else.   Yet we may fail to embrace grace because we want to hold onto wordly things that don’t truly fulfil us.

Think about times when you cried out to God in your desperation.  You may be in that place right now, either through consequences of your own actions or due to things beyond your control.  Either way, He has all of eternity to answer a momentary prayer. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Jonah 3.  Tune in to see if Jonah has completely turned around such that he sees the situation from God’s perspective, or if he still wrestles with wanting things done his way. 

Jonah 1

Greetings!  This reading is Jonah 1.

This is an action-packed book.  A lot happens in just four chapters. 

Jonah 1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

The Ninevites had a seriously wicked culture.  The prophet Nahumchronicled much of their evil – plotting against God, cruelty, exploitation of the helpless, idolatry, prostitution, withcraft and more.  But despite this God still wanted to reach them, just as He reaches out to us in our wickedness. 

Prophets typically just preached and prophesied to the Israelites.  In this case God wanted Jonah to go to the hated Ninevites and preach a message of repentance to them.  As Genesis 12:3 and other parts of the Bible note, the rest of the world was to be blessed through the Israelites.  Jonah didn’t like that idea so he disobeyed and went the other direction. 

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried to the Lord, “O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased.”

I used to think that Jonah was finally doing something noble by offering to be thrown into the sea.  But James MacDonald pointed out that Jonah was basically saying that he would rather die than obey God.

Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

There is the fish part.  No drama, just a ho-hum notation that God provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. 

Although “three days and three nights” sounds like three literal 24 hour days, it was actually a Hebrew figure of speech meaning any part of a day.  Therefore, Jesus was buried mid-day on Friday and arose on Sunday but it was still referred to as “three days and three nights.”

Note how these pagans had more compassion than Jonah.  Jonah had put their lives in danger and they wanted to spare his life, but Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites to be saved.  The sailors were convinced by this miracle and vowed to follow God. 

We can’t run from God and expect to receive his blessings.  Are there any parts of your life where you are running from God?   

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like. 

The next reading is Jonah 2.