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Bible Pathways - Sept. 24, 2008


September 24

Jonah 1

Highlights In Today's Reading:

Jonah's reason for flight and why we should avoid it. Then why pray? (Chapter 2), Ninevah's repentance is open to everyone (Chapter 3). It's a "fishy" story, hard to "swallow."

The Lord directed Jonah to go to Nineveh to cry (preach) against it (its sins); for their wickedness is come up before Me (1:2). But Jonah believed Nineveh was a threat to Israel and deserved to be destroyed. He knew God had called him to warn them to repent, but he made the mistake of believing he could avoid the command of God.

Jonah was unwilling to be a foreign missionary to Nineveh. Step-by-step this disobedient prophet rose up (but not in the direction of his calling), and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish (the most remote of the Phoenician trading places): so he paid the fare . . . went down into it . . . from the presence of the Lord. . . . and he lay, and was fast asleep (1:3,5). Jonah thought he was leaving his troubles behind, so he went to sleep looking forward to his "much-needed" vacation. But such “luck” always ends in "deep waters."

Jonah's plan gave him an opportunity to "escape." But favorable circumstances when ignoring the will of God never lead to a successful end for any one. We are often more diligent in working toward our ruin than in seeking to do the will of God. Jonah paid the fare like many who spend their money and effort on selfish projects while disregarding the Lord's tithe and the Lord's Church. But Jonah soon discovered that ignoring the Word of God is always expensive and eventually a big disappointment cannot be avoided. All "backsliders" eventually pay the "full fare" in bitter experience. God's willingness to forgive the greatest of sinners when they repent (II Peter 3:9) was made known when Nineveh's king and its people repented and were spared from destruction.

Jonah discovered that God's love was not limited to Israel but open to everyone. Nineveh's repentance gave it about 100 years of peace before they backslid and Nineveh is laid waste during the time of Nahum (Nahum 3:7). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If you are another Jonah, you may want to "cut your vacation a little short," do the will of God, and avoid an inevitable disappointment.

The Lord Jesus on three occasions spoke of this historic event as factual: As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's (huge fish's) belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here (Matthew 12:40-41; 16:4; Luke 11:29-32).

Thought for Today:

The price of backsliding is way too costly for the temporary value received; but doing the will of God brings eternal rewards.

Christ Revealed:

By Jonah's experience in the great fish (Jonah 1:7 — 2:10). As proof of who He was, Jesus used this historical event as an illustration to tell of His death, burial, and resurrection when the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him (Matthew 12:39-41; also I Corinthians 15:4).

Word Study:

2:2 hell in O.T. (Sheol) used 31 times =b> to hide, cover, or the grave; 2:8 lying vanities =b> false worship; 3:10 God repented =b> He was grieved; 4:5 booth =b> shelter; 4:8 vehement =b> scorching.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts to China, Japan, & the Far East sponsored by Joe & Betty Crawford • Staff: Bernice Rathbone • Country: Greece (10.5 million) in southeastern Europe • Major languages: Greek and English • Government restrictions on witnessing to others about Christ • 87% Orthodox; 8% Old Calendar Orthodox; 2% Catholic; 1.2% Muslim; .5% Jehovah's Witness; .3% Protestant; 1% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Pray that your words and thoughts will be pleasing to the Lord (Psa. 19:14).

Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:12

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