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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 11)

Let’s continue thinking about Jonah’s first orthodox statement:  “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Like the rest of us, what Jonah says he believes is very orthodox.  But his professed beliefs are contradicted by his behavior!

“I am a Hebrew” — Jonah does not hesitate to identify himself as one of God’s covenant people.  He is proud, it seems, instead of being ashamed that he is betraying his heritage and refusing to do his part in fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant of being a blessing to all people (Gen. 12).

“and I worship the Lord . . .” — What is worship?  Is it merely ceremony, rituals performed to placate a sometimes angry deity?  How could he say “I worship the Lord”?  How can we say we worship the Lord when we don’t do what He tells us to do?

“the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” —  This is the Creator God!  This is the One who is responsible for this lethal storm.  This is the One who fashioned the dry land (which these sailors were longing for about right now).  We Evangelicals make a lot out of God as Redeemer, and rightly so.  But, I wonder, have we ignored much of the Bible’s witness to God as Creator?

This is no deistic-designed universe.  God is personally involved in sustaining His world. And He sustains His servant long enough for him to identify himself theologically.  But even pagans can see through such hypocrisy (to be continued).

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 10)

Let’s think about Jonah’s first orthodox statement:  “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  He is compelled to own up to his identity.  He is literally forced to acknowledge his religion and his God.

Instead of being the willing missionary God called Jonah to be, he winds up being having to identify himself to pagan sailors who have run out of religious options.

“I am a Hebrew” — Did these sailors know anything about the covenant people of God?  Perhaps they had heard of God’s exploits with His chosen ones.

I know very little about the chronology of the book of Jonah, but here is what I found:  It appears that the events of the book of Jonah took place around or just after the reign of King Jeroboam II, who reigned from 786-746 BC. So the events of the book of Jonah most likely occurred during the 8th century BC.  it appears that the author of Jonah was familiar with the book of Joel (Jonah 3:9 refers to Joel 2:14), written around 400 BC.  So, it seems likely that the book of Jonah was written between 500 BC and 200 BC, though due to themes that are present within the book, the most likely date of composition is sometime during the 5th or 4th centuries BC. (http://gracecommentary.com/jonah-date/)

If one asks, when and how was Israel conquered by the Assyrians, we learn the following:  Assyria’s conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel began approximately 740 BC under King Pul. First Chronicles 5:26 notes, “So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.” These tribes, located east of the Jordan River, were the first ones conquered by Assyria.

Nearly 20 years later, about 722 BC, the capital city, Samaria, was overtaken by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser V. After first forcing tribute payments, Shalmaneser later laid siege to the city when it refused to pay. Following a three-year siege, 2 Kings 17:5-6 notes that, “in the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” And in 701 BC the Assyrians marched south into Judah; however, they were unable to capture Jerusalem due to the Lord’s intervention (2 Chronicles 32:22). (https://www.gotquestions.org/Israel-conquered-by-Assyria.html)

From this information should we conclude that Israel has already been conquered by Assyria or that it was soon to take place?

The Assyrians of today are the indigenous Aramaic-speaking descendants of the ancient Assyrian people, one of the earliest civilizations emerging in the Middle East, and have a history spanning over 6750 years.  Assyrians are not Arabian, we are not Kurdish, our religion is not Islam.  The Assyrians are Christian, with our own unique language, culture and heritage.  Although the Assyrian empire ended in 612 B.C., history is replete with recorded details of the continuous presence of the Assyrian people till the present time. (http://nineveh.com/whoarewe.htm) (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 9)

I’m not very good at grilling.  I burn the meat, forget to get the propane filled, flip the burgers too often.  But there’s a world of difference between grilling and being grilled.  Jonah might have felt he was on the bar-b-que as the pagan sailors cast lots to discover whose fault this storm was.  We read that “the lot fell on Jonah.”

Yes, it did.  God sovereignly allowed their method to reveal Jonah’s treachery.  I wonder if some thought of killing him then and there.

But instead of executing him, they pummel him with questions:  “Who’s behind all this trouble?  What kind of work do you do?  Where are you from, anyway?  What’s your country?  And from what people are you?”  These five questions must have felt like daggers in Jonah’s heart.   He seems to have no alternative but to tell the truth.

What is the truth that he tells?  “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  That’s about as ORTHODOX as a statement can get!  Jonah doesn’t lie.  Perhaps he spoke these words with great pride, not realizing the absolute contradiction his behavior was to his beliefs.

We certainly don’t do that, do we?  If you would like, give one area or issue in the Comments section below in which Christians are verbally orthodox but practically heterodox. (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 8)

I think Jonah might have been an introvert.  Seriously.  He had gone down below deck.  Perhaps he was seasick.  Perhaps he was hiding.  It appears he was taking a nap.  It’s exhausting to run away from God!

Above deck an ecumenical prayer meeting is taking place.  The sailors are calling out to their gods even as they are tossing all the cargo overboard.

But the one piece of cargo that is napping below deck is causing the ship to sink!  The rebuke from the ship’s captain is direct:  “How can you sleep?  Get up and call on your god!  Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish!”

Jonah’s conscience (an interesting side study in this book) allows him to sleep like a baby.  A baby running away from his god.  It’s kind of hard to call on one’s god when in rebellion.  Disobedience has a way of stifling one’s prayer life.

“All hands on deck!” in Jonah’s situation meant everyone must, right now, call on their chosen deity to save them from perishing.  And Jonah appears to not care about the life of these sailors — or himself.  An infection of apathy has taken root in Jonah’s heart.  (to be continued)

A prayer for today:  “Lord of the winds and the sea, show me my apathy toward Your concerns for this drowning world.  Please take away from me my spiritual slumber and re-deploy me in Your service!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

 

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 7)

Jonah’s call is clear — and his response, though unspoken, is equally clear.  He ran away from the omnipresent God.  He might have felt that he was successful in “fleeing” from the Lord.  But he was wrong.

We always are when we think we can escape God.  He is no wimpy celestial parent who wrings His hands at the rebellion of His child and says, “Oh, no!  Whatever shall I do?”  God acts.  He has the whole universe at His disposal to deploy against His mutinous missionary.  God uses, or rather “sends,” a “great wind on the sea.”  We read in Psalm 135 that “He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” (v. 7, KJV)

Great winds produce great storms and this storm caused hardened, nauseous sailors to panic and become incredibly religious!  As they called out on their “own” gods, they divested themselves of the very cargo they were paid to transport.  They did everything they could to preserve their own lives, even resorting to religion in their despair.  But where is Jonah? (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 6)

Fleeing from the Lord, in Jonah’s case, was a literal, buy-your-own-ticket trip to Tarshish.  For us, fleeing from the Lord relates to the entirety of life:  what I think, what my priorities are, what’s important to me, what is God’s will for my life, for today.  Whenever I am failing to put Him first, I am fleeing from Him (even if I’m in my place in my pew in my church!).

What’s the opposite of “fleeing from” the Lord?  Fleeing to Him, of course.  Eagerly and without reservation (or with as few reservations as possible) submitting my will and plans and dreams and goals to Him.  The Bible calls that submission.

This raises several critical issues for the believer.  What is the “Nineveh” to which the Lord is sending me?  It might not be a geographical location, but a specific mission that I need to fulfill.

What is the “Joppa” for me, the place of resources that enable me to run away from doing what He has called me to do?  And what is my “Tarshish,” that place of rebellion and insensitivity to His plans for me?

I wasn’t a very good geography student in school, but those three cities might well represent three spiritual conditions of my heart.  My Nineveh — the place or task to which God is calling me.  My Joppa — my resources (given by the Lord) which I can use to run away from His will.  My Tarshish — the condition of my heart when it rebels against Him.  May I ask, which city are you in right now? (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 5)

What does it really mean to run away from the Lord? A total rejection of His Lordship. A turning away from the source of all life. A complete dismissal of the God of all creation!  It’s not just disobedience — it is spiritual rebellion and mutiny!

The Lord’s command was clear:  “GO!”  And Jonah went.  Away from the Lord. Away from obedience.  Away from the center of God’s will for his life.

He used his own resources to buy a one-way ticket to Tarshish.  And God let him.  God gave His servant the freedom to say “no!”

The text tells us that he purchased passage on that ship “to flee from the Lord.”  Can anyone really “flee” from the omnipresent God?  Absurd!

Fleeing from the Lord involves much more than physical movement.  We literally can’t move out of God’s zip code into our own.  He’s over all zip codes.  The basic idea of “fleeing” is to remove oneself from God’s control and Lordship — and that’s idolatry!  Mentally fleeing from God is a universal tactic (of believers!) which seduces us into thinking we can escape the Lord.  And that’s just plain dumb.  (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2017 in Jonah

 

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