1971.) Hosea 1

November 21, 2016

“Hosea and Gomer” by Cody F. Miller.  Quite the wedding portrait.

Hosea 1  (NIV)

Take for wife a whore.

Name your children how God feels

About sinful Jews.

–The Gendai Bible (each chapter summarized in a haiku)
by Rev. Frederick K. Boyle

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:

So, some 250 years after King David, Hosea speaks as God’s prophet for a period of about 40 years during the time of the divided kingdom. Hosea speaks to the Northern Kingdom/Israel and its capital city Samaria — about the same time that Isaiah was speaking to the Southern Kingdom/Judah and its capital city Jerusalem. During this time Israel was prospering economically but it was decaying and degenerating spiritually and morally.

Hosea’s Wife and Children

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”

My favorite immoral woman in the Bible is Gomer. We don’t know much about her, but we do know that she was a whore (according to the ESV translation). One day, the prophet Hosea was commanded by God to marry Gomer and have “children of whoredom” (Hos 1:2). The text doesn’t record Hosea’s response, but I can imagine it was something like: “But God, I’m a prophet. I’m a pastor. I’m a holy man. This is going to destroy my testimony! How’s my wife going to lead Beth Moore studies when she’s a whore?”

But God says “Go marry a whore, Hosea, so that you can experience what it is to be a giver of grace.”

–Preston Sprinkle

So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

The marriage will portray Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and the names of the children symbolize God’s judgment.

Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”

“Portrait of a Young Boy in a Red Suit, Holding a Bow and Arrow” by Arthur William Devis (English painter, 1762 – 1822)

The first son, Jezreel, is named after massacre at Jezreel (see 2 Kings 10). Perhaps as a punishment for not learning from this massacre, God says he will put an end to the kingdom of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. The prophecy for the destruction of Israel was fulfilled in 735 BC, when Assyria attacked and conquered Israel (2 Kings 15:29).

Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.”

“Portrait of a Young Girl” by Samuel Shaver (American, 1816 – 1878)

The second child was a daughter named Lo-Ruhamah, translated as “No pity,” “Not loved,” or “No mercy.” The implication of this name is that God will not show mercy and compassion to Israel and will allow it to be destroyed. The fact that God had no mercy to Israel but did have mercy towards the Southern Kingdom/ Judah may show that Judah and her kings were more faithful unto the Lord during these years, as exemplified by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-8). 

After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God.

“Portrait of a Young Boy with Peyot” by Isidor Kaufmann (Austrian Jewish painter, 1854 – 1921)

The third child was a son, named Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not my people.”  Here God punishes Israel by withdrawing his relationship with them.

So God promises to withdraw three things from the Jews of Israel:  the land, his mercy, and special status as his people. This appears to be a reversal of His promises in Exodus 6:6-8 where God —
a.)  rescues Israel “from under the yoke of the Egyptians” and gives them the promised land
b.)  shows mercy by redeeming them “with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment”
c.)  establishes a relationship with Israel and calls them “my people.”

10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.  Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’”

God promised a restoration so complete that the division caused by the civil war after King Solomon’s reign — a division that stood for 170 years — would one day be erased. One way  this promise is fulfilled is in the church, where God brings together Israel, Judah, and even Gentiles, into one body (Ephesians 2:14-16).

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Music:

I remember when my daughter and her husband were expecting baby number two, a little girl (who would join big brother Liam, set to turn 4 just days before she arrived). I listened with interest as Maureen told me the names they were considering:  Catherine, Caroline, Emma, Addison, Abigail, Morgan, Bailey. . .   But never once did she suggest naming her daughter “Not Loved” or “No Mercy,”  as Hosea and Gomer named their little girl.  We want our children — and God wants us — to know that we are dearly loved, and that gracious mercy abounds. The name they finally chose: Calli Grace. Perfect.

HERE  is one of my most favorite songs, “Lord Have Mercy,”  sung by Michael W. Smith.

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New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Miller.    http://www.codyfmiller.com/2008/hosea-and-gomer/
Devis.  http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/14/1421/OH3R000Z/posters/arthur-william-devis-portrait-of-a-young-boy-in-a-red-suit-holding-a-bow-and-arrow.jpg
Shaver.   http://americangallery.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/portrait-of-a-young-girl2.jpg
Kaufmann.   http://framingpainting.com/Uploadpic/Isidor%20Kaufmann/big/Portrait%20of%20a%20Young%20Boy%20with%20Peyot.jpg
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1970.) Psalm 107

November 18, 2016

Psalm 107   Good News Translation

Think of Jonah’s adventures . . . and of your own . . . 

In Praise of God’s Goodness

“Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal!”
Repeat these words in praise to the Lord,
all you whom he has saved.
He has rescued you from your enemies
and has brought you back from foreign countries,
from east and west, from north and south.

God rescues wanderers.

Some wandered in the trackless desert
and could not find their way to a city to live in.
They were hungry and thirsty
and had given up all hope.
Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.
He led them by a straight road
to a city where they could live.
They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
He satisfies those who are thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

These verses make a lovely table grace:

“We thank the Lord for His constant love,
and the wonderful things He does for us.
He satisfies those who are thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.”

God rescues prisoners.

10 Some were living in gloom and darkness,
prisoners suffering in chains,
11 because they had rebelled against the commands of Almighty God
and had rejected his instructions.
12 They were worn out from hard work;
they would fall down, and no one would help.
13 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.

Romans 6:22

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

14 He brought them out of their gloom and darkness
and broke their chains in pieces.
15 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
16 He breaks down doors of bronze
and smashes iron bars.

God rescues the sick.

17 Some were fools, suffering because of their sins
and because of their evil;
18 they couldn’t stand the sight of food
and were close to death.
19 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

20 He healed them with his command
and saved them from the grave.
21 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
22 They must thank him with sacrifices,
and with songs of joy must tell all that he has done.

God rescues the storm-tossed.

23 Some sailed over the ocean in ships,
earning their living on the seas.
24 They saw what the Lord can do,
his wonderful acts on the seas.

25 He commanded, and a mighty wind began to blow
and stirred up the waves.
26 The ships were lifted high in the air
and plunged down into the depths.
In such danger the sailors lost their courage;
27  they stumbled and staggered like drunks—
all their skill was useless.
28 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.
29 He calmed the raging storm,
and the waves became quiet.
30 They were glad because of the calm,
and he brought them safe to the port they wanted.

jonah4-jesus-jonah

We are each of us a Jonah, sometimes lost in a storm, often in a mess that is of our own making. BUT GOD rescues us! And God, in Jesus, rescues us for all eternity! “We must thank the Lord for his constant love, for the wonderful things he does for us!”

31 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
32 They must proclaim his greatness in the assembly of the people
and praise him before the council of the leaders.

33 The Lord made rivers dry up completely
and stopped springs from flowing.
34 He made rich soil become a salty wasteland
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He changed deserts into pools of water
and dry land into flowing springs.

A Prayer for the World
by Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.

Amen.

36 He let hungry people settle there,
and they built a city to live in.
37 They sowed the fields and planted grapevines
and reaped an abundant harvest.
38 He blessed his people, and they had many children;
he kept their herds of cattle from decreasing.

39 When God’s people were defeated and humiliated
by cruel oppression and suffering,
40 he showed contempt for their oppressors
and made them wander in trackless deserts.
41 But he rescued the needy from their misery
and made their families increase like flocks.
42 The righteous see this and are glad,
but all the wicked are put to silence.

43 May those who are wise think about these things;
may they consider the Lord’s constant love.

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Music:

Back to the title, if you will, of this psalm — “In Praise of God’s Goodness.”  HERE  is a song that sings the same idea.  It’s Delirious (a British Christian rock and modern worship band) and probably their most famous song, “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” from 1994.  Sing along in your heart — it’s good practice for Heaven!

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Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
verse 1.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/psalm107.jpg
breakfast plate.   http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/Photos/37/exps27737_CFT862013D39C.jpg
freedom.    http://jacsgod777.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/freedom-in-christ-copy.jpg?w=360
Jesus healing a blind man.   http://tiberjudy.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/healing-touch-of-jesus.jpg
sailboat.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/psalm1071.jpg
fish mouth and empty tomb.    http://pre05.deviantart.net/8f0d/th/pre/i/2012/248/7/5/from_jonah_to_jesus_by_tackupwind-d5dq9xs.jpg
saguaro.   http://www.gospelgifs.com/art_pages_10/images/cact1.gif

1969.) Jonah 4

November 17, 2016

Jonah at Ninevah — Ulrich Leive

Jonah 4   (NLT)

Pout, Jonah, Pout!

1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. 2 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 3Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

Jonathan Swift wrote some verse that expresses Jonah’s frame of mind! —

We are God’s chosen few,

All others will be damned;

There is no place in heaven for you,

We can’t have heaven crammed.

4 The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

God likes to ask us questions, because they reveal our heart. It also put us on proper ground before God, because He has every right to question us and we owe Him answers.

  • Where are you? Who told you that you were naked? What is this you have done? (Genesis 3)
  • Where is your brother Abel? What have you done? (Genesis 4)
  • What have you done? (1 Samuel 13:11)
  • Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? (2 Samuel 12)
  • Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? (Isaiah 6)
  • Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16)
  • What do you want Me to do for you? (Matthew 20)
  • Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? (Luke 22)
  • Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9)

–David Guzik

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EVALUATE YOUR ANGER

Anger is not always or necessarily sinful, but it has such a tendency to run wild that whenever it displays itself, we should be quick to question its character, with this inquiry, “Do you do well to be angry?” It may be that we can answer, “Yes.” Very frequently anger is the madman’s firebrand, but sometimes it is Elijah’s fire from heaven. We do well when we are angry with sin, because of the wrong that it commits against our good and gracious God; or with ourselves because we remain so foolish after so much divine instruction; or with others when the sole cause of anger is the evil that they do. He who is not angry at transgression becomes a partaker in it. Sin is a loathsome and hateful thing, and no renewed heart can patiently endure it. God himself is angry with the wicked every day, and it is written in His Word, “O you who love the LORD, hate evil” (Psalm 97:10).

Far more frequently it is to be feared that our anger is not commendable or even justifiable, and then we must answer, “No.” Why should we be fretful with children, passionate with servants, and wrathful with companions? Is such anger honorable to our Christian profession or glorifying to God? Is it not the old evil heart seeking to gain dominion, and should we not resist it with all the might of our newborn nature?

Many professors give way to temper as though it were useless to attempt resistance; but let the believer remember that he must be a conqueror in every point, or else he cannot be crowned. If we cannot control our tempers, what has grace done for us? Someone told Mr. Jay that grace was often grafted on a crab-stump. “Yes,” he said, “but the fruit will not be crabs.”

We must not make natural infirmity an excuse for sin, but we must fly to the cross and pray the Lord to crucify our tempers, and renew us in gentleness and meekness after His own image.

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon/updated by Alistair Begg

5 Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

7 But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 8 And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

Jonah faces God’s freedom — Henri Lindegaard, 2003.

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell right from left—or right from wrong— not to mention all the animals. Isn’t it right for me to have pity for such a great city?”

“More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple pity that will not forsake us.”

–George Eliot (1819-1880)

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Matthew 12:38-41   (ESV)

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

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Music:

HERE  is “Wonderful, Merciful Savior”  by Selah.  This is one of those songs that always brings tears to my eyes — that the Lord would be so wonderful, and so merciful, to us!

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Oh, most wonderful, merciful God!

We pray that you would make us like the Ninevites,
that when we hear your message of conviction,
we would repent of our evil ways,
and confess our sins, and turn to you.

For you are a God who is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and filled with unfailing love.

We pray that you would make us like the sailors,
that when we see your mighty deeds,
we would worship you and praise you
and renew our commitment to serve you.
For you are the Lord, the God of heaven,
who made the sea and the dry land.

We pray that you would make us like Jonah the second time,
that when we hear your call,
we will obey immediately and faithfully,
willing to go and proclaim the glory of your name,
eager to see your grace working even through us.
For you are the God with power to save;
salvation comes from you alone.

We pray these things in the name of the One who is greater than Jonah, the One whose name is high and lifted up, above every other name, even Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

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The Journey with Jonah is one of my favorite books! Written by Madeleine L’Engle (who won the Newberry Award in 1963 for A Wrinkle in Time–another one of my favorite books!), this delightful retelling of the Jonah story is actually a play. Jonah is the only human, and he is accompanied by many animals who engage the crabby prophet in conversation about his choices. L’Engle’s amusing characters and their insightful thoughts make this wonderful story of Jonah even more engaging!

It is also a treat to actually produce! When I lived in South Korea I directed it for our congregation. Costumes were so much simple fun:  The rat family came with little ears glued on headbands and long tails.  The whale wore a gray Members Only leather jacket. The blue jay was loaded down with costume jewelry. You get the idea.  So now–do yourself a favor and find the book for your own enjoyment!

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Leive.    http://www.artbible.net/1T/-Jon-01,01_Events_Portraits_Evenements/4%20Mercy_Misericorde/20%20LEIVE%20JONA%20AT%20NINIVE%20KS%20G.jpg
angry man.    http://www.veteranstoday.com/story_images/anger_stockxpertcom_id917161_size011.jpg
Lindegaard.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/-Jon-01,01_Events_Portraits_Evenements/4%20Mercy_Misericorde/20%20LINDEGAARD%20JONAS%20DD%20DEVANT%20LA%20LIBERTE%20DE%20D.jpg

1968.) Jonah 3

November 16, 2016

The Finger Raised — Henri Lindegaard, 2003

Jonah 3   (NLT)

Preach, Jonah, Preach!

1 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”

“Play it again, Sam” is a misquotation from the 1942 movie Casablanca.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

A SECOND TIME

Jonah didn’t like the assignment God gave him. God directed him to leave his homeland and go to the enemy city of Nineveh, a hostile and evil center of idol worship. There Jonah was to warn the people of God’s impending judgment and urge them to repent. The Hebrews hated the people of Nineveh, so the rebellious prophet fled in the opposite direction, hoping for a different word from God that was more to his liking. Instead, God was determined that his word to Jonah would be obeyed. He spoke to Jonah again. His second message was the same as the first. However, during the interval, Jonah had been buffeted by storms and had traveled in the stomach of a fish for three days. This time, he was prepared to hear God again and do his bidding.

God also spoke to the prophet Jeremiah two times (Jer. 33:1-3). But Jeremiah accepted God’s word to him the first time. The second time God spoke to him was to give him a fuller revelation of what He had first told him.

What God says to us next will depend on how we responded to His previous word to us. If, like Jonah, we disobeyed His earlier instructions, God will give them a second time. If we obeyed His first directive, as Jeremiah did, He will give us a fresh and deeper expression of His will (Matt. 25:23). Do not let the Lord have to wait for your obedience.

3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.

Ancient historians say that Nineveh was the largest city in the world at that time.

4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.

6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city:

“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps God will have pity on us even yet, and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”

“He who would have others pity him must pity others.”

~Yiddish proverb

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Music:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis.

have mercy upon us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis.

have mercy upon us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
dona nobis pacem.

grant us peace.

HERE  is “Agnus Dei” by Samuel Barber and the Choir of New College, Oxford. In view of Jonah’s reluctant and begrudging obedience, I encourage you to take 8 minutes right now out of your day to contemplate with thanksgiving God’s great love and mercy for you, and to pray for the salvation of all the world.

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10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he had mercy on them concerning the destruction he had threatened to bring upon them.  And he did not do it.

jonah3-slow-to-anger

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lindegaard.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/-Jon-01,01_Events_Portraits_Evenements/3%20Obedience_Obeissance/20%20LINDEGAARD%20JONAS%20BB%20LE%20DOIGT%20LEVE.jpg
“Play it again.”    http://thejarboes.com/play%20it%20again%20sam.jpg
Psalm 145:8.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/92/97/1e/92971ea195164e4d1dd5afd74bf28bf4.jpg

1967.) Jonah 2

November 15, 2016

Jonah in the whale — Frank Wesley

Jonah 2   (NLT)

Pray, Jonah, Pray!

1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.

God could have rescued Jonah in any number of ways. He chose this specific way because of the effect it would have on Jonah’s heart. The book of Jonah shows us important principles about the sovereignty of God. What happens when God wants a person to do something, but the person doesn’t want to do it? Jonah shows us that God has a way of bringing us to the place where we want what He wants.

–David Guzik

Dear Lord, Please let me never be so disobedient to you that you have to put me in the belly of a great fish before I will obey you!

2He said,

“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,
and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
and Lord, you heard me!

Jonah knew the Word of God by heart! See how he quotes from the Psalms:

Psalm 18:6 (NIV)

In my distress I called to the LORD;
   I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
   my cry came before him, into his ears.

3 You threw me into the ocean depths,
and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
4 Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’

Open my eyes, Lord, to see you beside me in every circumstance.

5 “I sank beneath the waves,
and the waters closed over me.

Psalm 42:7 (NIV)

All your waves and breakers
   have swept over me.

Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth,
whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
snatched me from the jaws of death!

Thank you, Lord, for all the times you have saved me from my own poor choices!

7 As my life was slipping away,
I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple.

Psalm 31:22 (NIV)

In my alarm I said,
   “I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
   when I called to you for help.

8 Those who worship false gods
turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

Yes, Lord! Forever and ever and ever I will say, Yes, Lord!

10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

Jonah — Philip Ratner (Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum, Bethesda, MD)

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In the stomach of the fish — Henri Lindegaard, 2003.

from Peculiar Treasures,
by Frederick Buechner

WHALE

If it was actually a whale that swallowed Jonah on his voyage to Tarshish, it couldn’t have been the kind of Right Whale you find in these waters because their gullets aren’t big enough. Maybe it was a sperm whale because they can handle something the size of a prophet without batting an eye. Or maybe, since the Hebrew word means only “great fish,” it wasn’t a whale at all but a man-eating shark, some of whom attain lengths as great as thirty feet. But whatever it was, this much is certain.

No matter how deep it dove and no matter how dark the inside of its belly, no depth or darkness was enough to drown out the sound of Jonah’s prayer. “I am cast out from thy presence. How shall I again look upon thy holy temple?” the intractable and water-logged old man called out from sixty fathoms, and Yahweh heard him, and answered him, and Jonah’s great relief at being delivered from the whale can hardly have been any greater than the whale’s at being delivered from Jonah.

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Music:

HERE  is “Love Lifted Me.”  Randy Travis and Mac Powell.

  1. I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
    Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
    But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
    From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
    Refrain:

    Love lifted me!
      Love lifted me!
    When nothing else could help,
    Love lifted me!
  2. All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling,
    In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
    Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
    Faithful, loving service, too, to Him belongs.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Wesley.    http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/Misc/Wesley/jonah5.gif
Ratner.    http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/heroes/hero_13.jpg
Lindegaard.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/-Jon-01,01_Events_Portraits_Evenements/2%20Delivered_Delivrance/20%20LINDEGAARD%20JONAS%2014%20DANS%20LE%20VENTRE%20DU%20POISSON.jpg

1966. Jonah 1

November 14, 2016

“Jonah and the Whale” by He Qi

Jonah 1   (NLT)

Run, Jonah, Run!

Jonah was from the village of Gath Hepher which was located on a small hill about three miles northeast of Nazareth. He was a Galilean prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel. Prior to the ministry of Jonah, Israel was in a weakened condition. Its borders were shrinking as it lost its outlying territories to powerful enemies. The nation was forced to pay high tribute to the king of Assyria. In 2 Kings 14:26 it is said of this time, “Everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering.”

Since we have just been reading about the Assyrian interaction with the southern kingdom of Judah, I thought we would slip in this wonderful story of God and his love for all the world, even for the people, like the Ninevites, who look like enemies.

1 The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

Only 500 miles to the east of Jonah was Ninevah, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. The gate above is a reconstruction of one of the 15 gates of the ancient city — now in Mosul, Iraq. I am not sure what condition this gate may be in at this time.

3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

jonah1-map

Some 2000 miles west of Israel and Judah, Tarshish was famed as the westernmost port of the Mediterranean. It was about as far away as one could get! The city was also known for its mines of gold and silver.

.

Why didn’t Jonah want to go to Nineveh and do what the Lord told him to do?

 It may have been because he was given a difficult job to do. Nahum 3:1-4 gives us a good idea of how wicked the people of Nineveh were. Jonah had every reason to expect that at the very best, he would be mocked and treated as a fool. He might be attacked and killed if he did what the Lord told him to do.

 It was also because Jonah didn’t want the Assyrians in Nineveh to escape God’s judgment. Imagine a Jewish man in New York during World War II hearing God say, ‘I’m going to bring terrible judgment on Germany. I want you to go to Berlin and tell Nazi Germany to repent.’ Instead of doing it, the man heads for San Francisco and then hops on a boat for Hong Kong.

–David Guzik

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Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.

4 But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe your god will have pity on us and spare our lives.”

“Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.”

~William Blake (1757-1827)

7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”  Then he told them he was running away from the Lord.

10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. 11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”

12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”

15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea,

Overboard — by Henri Lindegaard, 2003

and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

17 Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

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Music:

HERE  is “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” also known as “The Navy Hymn.”

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power,
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Oh, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces of the sky.
Be with them traversing the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer
For those in peril in the air.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    http://www.artbible.net/1T/-Jon-01,01_Events_Portraits_Evenements/1_Refusal_Refus/21%20HE%20QI%20%20JONAH%20&%20THE%20WHALE.jpg
Ninevah.    http://cache2.allpostersimages.com/p/LRG/27/2796/4S7OD00Z/posters/sweeney-jane-walls-and-gates-of-the-ancient-city-of-nineveh-now-mosul-al-mawsil-al-mawsil-ninawa-iraq.jpg
map showing Tarshish.    https://thelonghaulwithisaiah.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/6-jonah-6.jpg?w=1600&h=1200
Lindegaard.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/-Jon-01,01_Events_Portraits_Evenements/1_Refusal_Refus/20%20LINDEGAARD%20L%20JONAS%2012%20PAR%20DESSUS%20BORD.jpg

1965.) 2 Chronicles 25

November 11, 2016

“Half-Hearted Cookies” are one thing! Half-hearted obedience to God is quite another.

2 Chronicles 25   (NLT)

Amaziah Rules in Judah

Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddin from Jerusalem. 2Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.

3 When Amaziah was well established as king, he executed the officials who had assassinated his father. 4 However, he did not kill the children of the assassins, for he obeyed the command of the Lord as written by Moses in the Book of the Law: “Parents must not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor children for the sins of their parents. Those deserving to die must be put to death for their own crimes.”

2chron25-moses

He obeys the law of Moses.  So far, so good.

5 Then Amaziah organized the army, assigning generals and captains for all Judah and Benjamin. He took a census and found that he had an army of 300,000 select troops, twenty years old and older, all trained in the use of spear and shield. 6 He also paid about 7,500 pounds of silver to hire 100,000 experienced fighting men from Israel.

7 But a man of God came to him and said, “Your Majesty, do not hire troops from Israel, for the Lord is not with Israel. He will not help those people of Ephraim! 8 If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated by the enemy no matter how well you fight. God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help you or to trip you up.”

9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”

The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!” 10 So Amaziah discharged the hired troops and sent them back to Ephraim.

It is unsettling that he hires mercenaries and that he thinks first of the money he spent rather than faithfulness of God. But he obeys the prophet, even at a loss of profit! Good for him.

This made them very angry with Judah, and they returned home in a great rage.

11 Then Amaziah summoned his courage and led his army to the Valley of Salt, where they killed 10,000 Edomite troops from Seir. 12 They captured another 10,000 and took them to the top of a cliff and threw them off, dashing them to pieces on the rocks below.

13 Meanwhile, the hired troops that Amaziah had sent home raided several of the towns of Judah between Samaria and Beth-horon. They killed 3,000 people and carried off great quantities of plunder.

14 When King Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought with him idols taken from the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down in front of them, and offered sacrifices to them!

What?!  An ungrateful, even irrational response!

15 This made the Lord very angry, and he sent a prophet to ask, “Why do you turn to gods who could not even save their own people from you?”

16 But the king interrupted him and said, “Since when have I made you the king’s counselor? Be quiet now before I have you killed!”

This further ungrateful response is a direct rejection of God.

So the prophet stopped with this warning: “I know that God has determined to destroy you because you have done this and have refused to accept my counsel.”

17 After consulting with his advisers, King Amaziah of Judah sent this challenge to Israel’s king Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz and grandson of Jehu: “Come and meet me in battle!”

He doesn’t like this counsel, so he goes elsewhere to get the advice he wants / to confirm his own intentions.  (Where have we seen this before in 2 Chronicles?  –or in my own heart?)

18 But King Jehoash of Israel replied to King Amaziah of Judah with this story: “Out in the Lebanon mountains, a thistle sent a message to a mighty cedar tree: ‘Give your daughter in marriage to my son.’ But just then a wild animal of Lebanon came by and stepped on the thistle, crushing it!

19 “You are saying, ‘I have defeated Edom,’ and you are very proud of it. But my advice is to stay at home. Why stir up trouble that will only bring disaster on you and the people of Judah?”

20 But Amaziah refused to listen, for God was determined to destroy him for turning to the gods of Edom. 21 So King Jehoash of Israel mobilized his army against King Amaziah of Judah. The two armies drew up their battle lines at Beth-shemesh in Judah.

Now let’s guess what will happen.  How about humiliating defeat and loss of national wealth?

22 Judah was routed by the army of Israel, and its army scattered and fled for home. 23 King Jehoash of Israel captured Judah’s king, Amaziah son of Joash and grandson of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh. Then he brought him to Jerusalem, where he demolished 600 feet of Jerusalem’s wall, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 24 He carried off all the gold and silver and all the articles from the Temple of God that had been in the care of Obed-edom. He also seized the treasures of the royal palace, along with hostages, and then returned to Samaria.

25 King Amaziah of Judah lived on for fifteen years after the death of King Jehoash of Israel. 26 The rest of the events in Amaziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

I must confess:  I have always thought it was unfortunate that these ancient books were lost.  However, now that we are deep into 2 Chronicles, I am thinking it is a good thing. How depressing to read even more of these records of half-heartedness, unfaithfulness, idolatry, revenge, disobedience, assassination, destruction, stupidity . . .

27 After Amaziah turned away from the Lord, there was a conspiracy against his life in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But his enemies sent assassins after him, and they killed him there. 28 They brought his body back on a horse, and he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.

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Music:

It is a short distance from Amaziah’s half-hearted devotion to God —  to my own.  How grateful I am that I can find God’s grace and forgiveness “At the Cross.”  HERE.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
cookies.    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0159/1210/products/half_hearted_cookies_lg_1024x1024.jpg?v=1343686898
Moses and the law.    http://www.clipartkid.com/images/837/clipart-moses-with-the-ten-commandments-2-YKygDg-clipart.jpg
money flying away.    http://coolsunlight.com/wps/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/money-flying-away-loosing-broke-bankrupt-100613674-primary.idge_.jpg
cat.    http://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/what_are_you_doing.jpg
I did it my way.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/2b0ce-ididitmyway-proverbs16verse25.jpg
It won’t work.    http://lucyinnovation.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/failure.gif
sad face.    http://inlandpolitics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Sad-Emoticon.jpg