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Bible Pathways 09/24/2002

September 24

Read Jonah 1 -- 4

In Today's Reading:

Jonah commissioned a prophet; his effort to avoid God's will; Jonah swallowed by a great fish; Jonah's prayer; second commission; Nineveh repents and Jonah displeased.

Verses for Today:

(The Lord directed Jonah) Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry (preach) 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 Jonah made the mistake of believing that, since Nineveh was a wicked, heathen city, and a potential threat to Israel, it didn't deserve a warning before being destroyed. Jonah was probably delighted with the good news that the judgment of God would soon fall upon Nineveh, for he could not believe the love of God could be extended even to Israel's enemies.

Jonah decided to ignore his call from God to be a missionary to Nineveh. He must have felt fortunate when he discovered a ship was sailing to Tarshish (the most remote of the Phoenician trading places) on the day he arrived in Joppa. Nineveh was east of Israel but Tarshish was a seaport city of the western Mediterranean region.

For a while, events seemed to favor Jonah's "vacation plan" and this gave him such peace of mind that he was soon fast asleep on the ship (Jonah 1:5). However, favorable circumstances in avoiding the will of God are only temporary and they never lead to a pleasant end. Soon Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. After three days of soul searching and prayer, a repentant Jonah was vomited onto dry land by the great fish. After much suffering, Jonah eventually submitted to God's will. 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 sink in the sea, but God was merciful. He dealt patiently with Jonah, teaching him the importance of obedience and demonstrating His love toward both the prophet and the repentant people in Ninevah. The willingness of God to forgive the greatest of sinners who repent was made known when Nineveh's king and its people repented and were spared from the destruction prophesied by Jonah.

Like Jonah, there are some people persist in doing what pleases themselves rather than prayerfully submitting to do the will of God. Like Jonah, they end up paying a heavy price for their disobedience.

We can avoid the mistakes of Jonah, and the Lord's chastening, by truly repenting of our sins. We can be thankful that whom the Lord [loves] He chastens, and [scourges] every [one] whom [He receives] (Hebrews 12:6). Those who ignore our loving Heavenly Father and refuse to repent must therefore experience His judgment.

We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:10-12; see Isaiah 45:23).

Christ Revealed:

By Jonah's experience in the great fish (Jonah 1:7:10). Jesus used this historical event as an illustration to tell of His death, burial, and resurrection when the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him to prove Who He was (Matthew 12:39-40; also 1 Corinthians 15:4).

Word Study:

2:8 lying vanities = false worship.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for your pastor · Country: United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales) (59 million) off the coast of western Europe · Major languages: English and Welsh · Religious freedom · 53% Protestant; 10% Roman Catholic; 2.5% Muslim; .8% Sikh; .7% Hindu; .6% Jewish · Prayer Suggestion: Remember that it is by the blood of Christ that we have access to God in prayer (Hebrews 10:19).

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 14:13

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