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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 18)

A SUMMARY OF SOME LESSONS FROM JONAH CHAPTER ONE:  Romans 15 says, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”  What are we learning from this minor prophet?

God calls all believers to participate in the Great Commission, to get the gospel out about Jesus Christ.  Am I, are you, running away from that assignment?

How much do we rely on our own resources (he bought his own ticket away from God’s will) to live life, instead of trusting Him to provide what we need?

Who are the innocent ones who have been hurt by my rebellion?  Who have I sacrificed on my altar of self-determination?

Where is my conscience not bothering me, keeping me awake (when it should)?

Am I aware that I can be quite orthodox in my words but very heterodox in my actions?  Is my belief more a matter of ethnic pride than humble trust in the living God?

Where is the place of genuine repentance in my life?  Or am I so stubborn that I would rather die than confess my sin and bow before my Lord?

Do I see the Lord as sovereign, even over my poor witness?  Am I careful not to rely on His sovereignty to overcome my disobedience?

Do I recognize the many things, circumstances, and people that God provides in my life to get His work done?

My prayer:  “Lord, this is an amazing book, almost a bit of an autobiography of my life!  Help me to submit, repent, and do what You have called me to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

 

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 17)

God is in the saving business.  And these pagan sailors have now become members of God’s family.  Not because of, but despite, Jonah’s poor witness.  His orthodox statement was exactly on point.  His life stood in stark contrast to the truth he said he believed.

But what has happened to this runaway missionary?  Surely Jonah thought his life was over as he sailed over the side of the ship into the raging sea.

But Jonah’s God is bigger than the finite rebellion of his misguided missionary.  God’s plans have only been temporarily inconvenienced.  And He is not done with Jonah yet.

The text tells us that the God who provides (known in other Scriptures as “Jehovah Jireh”) is able not only to send calamity, but rescue.  Both a raging storm and a saving sea creature are acts of Jonah’s God.  God provides.  The word “prepared” as used here actually means “commissioned” or appointed, or “ordered.”

What must it have felt like to be sinking into the depths, certain of one’s imminent drowning, only to then sense a mouth opening up for a slimy trip down a salt-water gullet?  Jonah describes in detail his descent into the sea in chapter two, but let us not miss the fact that Jehovah Jireh provided, appointed, this huge sea creature to capture Jonah and save him from drowning.  Jonah’s three-day hotel reservation foreshadows the most critical event in the Bible (which we will discuss in a subsequent post).  (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 16)

Self-redemption is a myth.  These experienced, strong sailors could not defeat God’s winds and sea, and finally succumbed to Jonah’s suicidal suggestion.  They pick him up and toss him overboard — and the raging sea becomes calm.

They understand cause-and-effect, but life does not go back to normal for these pagan men.  The circumstances could not have been more obvious — Jonah’s God was indeed the God of the sea and the dry land!  And He had spared their lives when they had excised the object of God’s wrath.

We read:  “At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.”  These polytheists now became monotheists and, apparently, became converted to Jonah’s God, despite his poor testimony.  Notice:

(1)  They “greatly feared the Lord” (something that Jonah never does in his book, it seems).

(2)  They offered a sacrifice to the Lord (tossing Jonah overboard didn’t count as their sacrifice, apparently).

(3)  They made vows to Him.  They made promises to Jonah’s God even as Jonah is drowning as his punishment for blatantly ignoring the Lord.  Whereas Jonah did not have the courtesy even to respond verbally to God’s call on his life, these men put into words their gratitude for God sparing them.  Perhaps Jonah, as he descended into the depths of the sea, thought he was finally free of his God and His demands.  He could not have been more wrong.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 15)

Don’t you hate it when you are only one who thinks your idea is a great one?  Jonah volunteers to be tossed overboard and is sure that the sea will calm down when it claims his life.  But Jonah did not count on the consciences of pagan sailors who stood with dropped jaws as they heard of Jonah’s heresy.  Words are cheap and Jonah’s orthodox declaration (“I am a Hebrew and I worship  the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land”) was clearly contradicted by his silly attempt to escape this God!

The sailors do not immediately grab Jonah and hurl him over the side.  They once more grab their oars and try to row back to land.  But in vain.  They needed to play their part in this drama of sacrifice and redemption.

Their failure to rescue themselves drives them to cry out to Jonah’s God!  And what an elegant prayer!  “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life.  Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.”  What a prayer!

Their prayer was much more orthodox than Jonah’s life!  Notice several aspects of their prayer:

(1)  They pray to Jonah’s God!

(2)  They recognize that He is a righteous Judge who will hold sinners accountable.

(3)  They acknowledge that He, Jonah’s God, had done as He pleased.

With a modicum of words, Jonah had unwittingly led these men to his God.  And all he wants to do is go drown.  Sad.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 14)

“Suicidal ideations” — that’s a term I learned in working with pastoral counselors!  And Jonah has a number of them in this book (suicidal ideations, not counselors!).  As the sea threatened to drown all of them, Jonah gets fingered as the one whose fault it was that the ocean was determined to gobble them up.

He volunteers to be chucked overboard, thinking that was the only solution to their dilemma.  Of course, all he really had to do was repent.  He could have had his own prayer meeting there on that stormy deck, asked his God’s forgiveness, and bought a ticket to Nineveh when they arrived (sans cargo) in Tarshish.

But REPENTANCE does not appear to have entered Jonah’s mind.  And the cause-and-effect thinking of the sailors left him, in his mind, with only one choice:  sacrifice.  Perhaps his offer is not as magnanimous as it sounds.  Perhaps he is beating them to the punch, thinking they would be ridding the ship of him as soon as they could.  But he didn’t know anything about their fear of the God he was supposed to share with others! (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 13)

Someone has said, “There is only one commandment for those who don’t believe in Jesus and it is this:  Watch those who do!”  The pagan sailors are not attracted to Jonah’s orthodoxy, but are outraged that he could be running away from such a God!  They put two and two together and conclude that Jonah’s God, the One who made the sea and the dry land, did not care to be disobeyed — and had done something about it!  HE had sent the storm.

As they had their theological discussion, the sea “was getting rougher and rougher.”  They ask Jonah, “What should we do TO YOU to make the sea calm down for us?”  These pagan sailors were no dummies.  And they realized that Jonah’s God was no impotent deity.  HE had pursued His servant and HE got his servant’s attention.  Yes, innocent sailors had gotten embroiled in the mix, but Jonah’s God was sovereign over that as well.

If one were to unit-read the book of Jonah (reading it straight through at one sitting), it seems apparent at several points that he wants to die!  He has these suicidal ideations a number of times.  Here he volunteers to be tossed over the side as a human bromide to calm an acidic sea!  Jonah is certain that throwing him overboard will placate his angry God.  And he is sorta right. (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 12)

Like Jonah, we are in situations where we will make orthodox statements about our beliefs — and will be judged by the way that we are living.  Jonah’s (forced) declaration: “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” is perfectly orthodox.  But it’s obvious that these are merely words to Jonah.

Notice the reaction of the pagan sailors to Jonah’s orthodox declaration:  “This terrified them and they asked, ‘What have you done?'”  They are shocked and horrified that Jonah’s beliefs and his behavior are so contradictory.

What upsets them?  The reality that Jonah is the reason for the storm.  He is the cause of their having to dump their cargo.  It is his fault that their stomachs and their lives have been violently turned over.  And the text tells us that “they knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.”  I wonder how Jonah put it — “I’m actually running away from the God who made the sea and the dry land.”

There are many ways of running from the Lord.  If you wish, write out one of those ways in the Comments section below.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2017 in Jonah

 

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