Sept. 24, 2009
Read Jonah 1
Highlights In Today's Reading:
Learn a lesson from Jonah who learns firsthand what it means to hit rock bottom spiritually and emotionally. He cries to God who answers (2:2,7). The enemy humbly prays for mercy (3:6-10). Jonah gets angry because God does not destroy them (4:1-2).
The Lord directed Jonah: Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord (1:2-3). It appears that Jonah decided that, since Nineveh was a wicked, heathen city and a potential threat to Israel, it didn't deserve a warning before being destroyed. He was probably even delighted in the good news that the judgment of God would soon fall upon it.
Jonah decided to enjoy a vacation and must have felt that God had graciously arranged for a ship sailing to Tarshish (the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities) on the exact day he arrived in Joppa. Nineveh was several hundred miles east of Israel, but Tarshish was a seaport city in the western Mediterranean.
For a brief time, events seem to favor Jonah's "vacation plan" and gave him such a peace of mind that he was soon fast asleep on the ship (1:5). However, favorable circumstances in avoiding the will of God are only temporary and they never lead to a pleasant end. Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. After three days of soul-searching, a repentant Jonah was vomited onto dry land by the great fish. He then became the greatest evangelist of his day, resulting in the entire city of Nineveh repenting of its wickedness.
God could have chosen another prophet and let Jonah drown in the sea. But God was merciful and dealt patiently with Jonah, teaching him the importance of obedience, and demonstrating His love and longsuffering toward both the prophet and the repentant pagan sinners.
God loved this disobedient prophet too much to permit him to enjoy his selfish ways. Like Jonah, some of us persist in pleasing ourselves rather than prayerfully doing the will of God.
Jonah eventually submitted to the will of God. Today, as servants of the Lord, we can avoid Jonah's "mistakes." The willingness of God to forgive even the greatest of sinners who repents was made known when Nineveh's king and its people repented and were spared from the destruction that Jonah had prophesied.
The Apostle Peter declared: The Lord . . . is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9).
Thought for Today:
By Jonah's experience in the great fish (Jon. 1:7 — 2:10). Jesus used this historical event as an illustration to tell of His death, burial, and resurrection when the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him (Matt. 12:39-41; also I Cor. 15:3-4).
2:2 hell = in O.T. 31 times (from Sheol, used about 65 times) = to hide, cover, or the grave. In the N.T. Jesus used hell (from Hades, Gehenna) to explain an after-death place of torments (Matt. 8:29; Luke 16:23,28; Rev. 14:10; 20:10); 2:8 lying vanities = worthless idols, false worship; 3:10 God repented = he was grieved; 4:5 booth = shelter; 4:8 vehement = scorching.
Pray for English International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Joe & Betty Crawford • Staff: Gina Lesnefsky • Country: Denmark (5 million) in northern Europe • Major languages: Danish and Faroese • Religious freedom • 92% Protestant; 1% Muslim; .5% Roman Catholic; .5% cults; .1% Jewish • Prayer Suggestion: Pray that God will keep you from speaking evil (Ps. 34:13).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 12:50