Saturday, July 21, 2012

SEFER YONAH...THE BOOK OF JONAH


                                                 OMG
The small or minor prophets in the OT are categorized that way not to minimize their importance or suggest that their physical size was in any way compromised. Instead, it means that they wrote "short" books that could be read through with ease, without taking weeks to complete. I will be concentrating on the small profits for the next few weeks, starting with every child's favorite, "The Book of Jonah." 


This popular Sunday School story at first blush might seem to many to be a waste of time and energy; however, as you have seen in prior in this blog, huge things can come in the tiniest of packages...Such is the case with the four chapters in this book. This miniature story about the great fish that swallowed Jonah whole, has little to do with the deep spiritual meaning surrounding this mixed metaphor...Do I believe that God changed the weather to scare the crew into giving up Jonah to the deep? Do I believe that God had a special fish ready to swallow him whole? The answer is an emphatic yes, but to miss the metaphor is like leaving in the bottom of the 9th inning when your team is losing. To savor the a hard fought victory with a walk off grand slam is the reason you went to the game in the first place. It is quite the same with the first 8 innings of Jonah's book. If you think the story is over too quickly, you miss the most important last three outs.


How many of us know from God the right way path for our life without hesitation? In my estimation, half of us know and ignore, and the rest don't care enough to know. Jonah knew exactly what God's plan was, not only for him, but also the people of Ninevah. This kind of certainty that can only come from the Word of God. We have that same unmistakable radar going on in our Soul everyday. For example, we know that we should not lie. We know that small lies are the same as big lies, but how often do we choose the path of convenience, justifying our sinful direction all the way. Jonah ran from what he absolutely knew he should do, because he had a built in prejudice against those terrible Ninevite's. Maybe ran is the wrong choice of words, because he actually tried to sail away from God. Imagine knowing the Almighty like he did, and then making bee-line in the opposite direction. Jonah did not delay, deceive himself, or pretend he did not hear God. He just went 180 degrees in the opposite direction, hoping that God would let him get away with it. 

So God made him wait in the belly of a fish for three days after being tossed overboard by the crew. I believe the lesson here is two-fold. One is that when God chooses to use you, and you head in the other direction, the elasticity of His grace will only stretch so far, before you are tossed into your personal sea of despair or chaos, reminding you that He comes first no matter what you think or where you go. It took Jonah only 3 days of this despair to get himself back on track with the Lord. Some of us take much longer...In fact, many are still running from that, "still, small voice," right now. If you believe you have ducked out of sight, you are only kidding yourself. Trust me, I did it for years!


Ever be so distraught, so afraid or so depressed that you made a deal with God right then and there? It went something like this..."Oh God, if you get me out of this, I will NEVER do this again, and I will donate more to the church, attend church, visit those less fortunate," etc. We have all made the deal, but only a tiny percentage of us keep the promise for more than a few days. Why do we only turn to Him in those great times of need? When we taste success, who do we turn from first? Jonah said it best with this statement, "they that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." Sound familiar?

After being spit up on the shore, God told him what to do again...This time he bolted for Nineveh and preached to them all with such new gusto, that even the king of that land put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. They all repented...so much so that God changed his mind about destroying them. This is what this story is all about...It's about saving even ungodly, repugnant Gentiles before the birth of Christ. It may have been beneath Jonah to stoop to preach redemption and the law of God, including damnation for sin, but NOT so for our GOD. Here we learn, with zero doubt about it, that racism is not a part of God's vocabulary, but unfortunately it remains part of his creation's vocabulary even today. Our wonderful God's immutable  line in the sand for SIN has nothing to do with age, color, gender, gender confusion, gender partners or gender preference, just like Jonah learned about a hated, feared and misunderstood group called the Ninevite's. Men can hate many different parts of God's creation and feel self-righteous to boot...We can hate black, white, or red. We can hate gay, bisexual and transgender. We can hate the Republican, the Democrat, the Monarchy, the Socialist and the Communist. We can hate the mentally challenged, physically challenged and the spiritually challenged. We can hate the Muslim world and its terrorism, we can hate China and its Communism, and we can hate France and its Socialism. Each of these hated groups are no different than the Ninevite's in God's eyes. He loves all of His creation, all of the time and will do so for eternity; HOWEVER, He draws a crystal clear line that you can count on, kind of like death and taxes in the USA. You will NOT join the Creator of Mankind and the rest of his creation in your heaven or your paradise without strict obedience to His Law or forgiveness of sin through his son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.


God bless and thank you for reading...


The Digital Disciple







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Hearing from you is certainly not a requirement. Consideration of what is researched and written is all I ask of anyone who stumbles upon my writings. I believe that my God will take it from there. With His help I try to separate fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and ultimately clarity from chaos.

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