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Showing posts with the label Jonah

FLY AND SWIM | 40 Days of Focus, Day 5

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And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
(Genesis 1:20-23) On day two God separated the waters above from the waters below. Now on day five God filled the waters below with fish and the sky with birds. For the first time the Earth is inhabited by creatures that can breathe and move and mate and fight and hunt and forage and multiply and spread out and start families. There is something of free will within the order of creation.

These living creatures are the first to receive a blessing from t…

Jonah: A Second Chance to Screw It Up

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I love the way Jonah 2 ends. Right after the prayer concludes, it says this:
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
(Jonah 2:10) Can you imagine what that would feel like? It's one thing to be swallowed, but to be vomited up? I can't even handle it when one of my children throw up. I get nauseous and feel like I'm going to puke, too. Thankfully my wife has a stronger stomach and less of a gag reflex. The thought of actually being thrown up - along with all the bile and remains of undigested fish food....

But it's really no different than what Jesus says about lukewarm, stale, tepid Christians.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
(Revelation 3:15-16) When God commanded the fish to regurgitate the rebellious prophet, the fish was probably relieved. Jonah was that tepid, wishy-washy fence-sitter t…

Jonah: Sorry, Not Sorry

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Have you ever heard of the non-apology? Here's the definition from Google.
Non-Apology: A statement that takes the form of an apology but does not constitute an acknowledgement of responsibility or regret for what has caused offense or upset. We see the ALL. THE. TIME. in politics and the like. Some politicians are absolute masters at the non-apology. Common examples of the non-apology are statements like "I deeply regret...", "Mistakes were made...", "I'm sorry you feel that way...", or even the prevalent "I'm sorry, but..."

These all take on the form of an apology without, as per the definition, acknowledging responsibility or remorse for one's own actions.

This article from Cracked explains some of the most common forms of the non-apology and reveals why we fall for them so often. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt. We want to believe that people are sincere and that they are willing to acknowledge fault and move o…

Jonah: Head Above Water

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When we left off, our rebellious prophet was recruiting the pagan Gentile sailors to assist him in committing suicide.
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:12) But the sailors didn't buy into this crazy scheme and tried for Plan A.2 - row to shore. But they couldn't. God/the storm wouldn't let them. Jonah tried to force God's hand in overthrowing the Assyrians by running from the mission. Now God is forcing the sailors' hands to throw Jonah overboard - Jonah's idea, not God's, just so we're clear. God never asked this of Jonah.
Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm...Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:15, 17)FINALLY! Here's the fish! Now we get to pull out the flannel graph board and sick a kneeling/feta…

Jesus Is the New Jonah...And So Are You.

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A prophet of God sleeping in a boat at sea during a particularly violent storm which has everyone else on board panicked. The prophet is rudely awakened and miraculously causes the storm to cease.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The more I study the story of Jonah, the clearer it becomes that Jesus based a lot of his ministry and teachings on the life of Jonah. The connections become obvious to anyone paying attention. In fact, Jesus makes it obvious for us by coming right out and telling us that “something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12).

So how is Jesus the new Jonah?

We’ll look at this throughout the story, but let’s just stay in chapter 1 for now.

THE WORD OF THE LORD

The opening phrase of Jonah’s story should perk the ears of Christians. “The Word of the Lord…” doesn’t that have some significance?

Look at how John’s gospel begins: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus IS the Word of God. Jesus’ story is inextricably…

Jonah: Unnecessary Sacrifice

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Last time we saw that Jonah spilled the beans about who he was, what God he served, and what he was doing on the boat. Jonah was a Hebrew. He was a worshiper of YHWH, the creator of the sea and dry land. And he was on the boat because he was running from YHWH, the creator of the sea, ON THE SEA.

The rest of the sailors are rightfully panicked.
This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:10-12) Wait, what? This raises so many questions for me. Let's look at the a bit more closely.

WHAT GOD WANTS VS. WHAT JONAH WANTS

What does God want? God wants Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it in order that they might …

Jonah: Who Are You?

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The storm at sea is threatening to kill them all. The waves are swelling and breaking over the boat. The wind is driving the rain like gravel into their faces. They are frantically hurling the cargo boxes overboard in an effort to lighten the ship.

In the midst of this fear and panic, they find someone who really couldn't be bothered by it all - Jonah, a prophet on the run.

After quite a rude awakening, Jonah is brought to meet with the rest of the crew. They've got to find out who is responsible for this storm - not necessarily what person, but what god/deity  is behind this. The most obvious god to pinpoint would be Ba'al, the Storm God of the Ancient Near-East. But Ba'al isn't responding right now (shocker!), so they have to figure this out.

They cast lots (think Yahtzee, but with higher stakes). The lot falls to Jonah (shocker again!). Check out the interaction that follows:
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is respon…

Jonah: Wake Up, Idiot!

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Jonah runs from God.

We should all realize the ridiculousness of this decision. Unfortunately, we all too often find ourselves in the same boat (pun intended).

But look what happens next.
But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 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. 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 he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” (Jonah 1:4-6) The reaction of the sailors is telling. They knew this storm was not natural. It takes them completely by surprise and with such a ferocity that it can only be divine in origin - a punishment from the gods upon someone aboard the boat.

We have information that the sailors don't. Jonah has information the sailors …

Jonah: Bravely Ran Away

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Ok, so here's the thing. Psychologists sometimes explain consciousness as the story we tell ourselves. We make meaning out of anything and everything. We have supporting characters and extras, protagonists and antagonists. And wouldn't you know it? We just so happen to always be the hero in our own story. One of the best portrayals of this is in the Will Ferrel movie Stranger Than Fiction.

We are the hero in the story we tell ourselves that makes up our conscious experience of life.

Got it?

Good.

So the thing to remember about Jonah is that he is the hero in his own story. No, he may not be the "hero" in the story recorded in Scripture. But in the moment, to himself, he is definitely the good guy. Jonah is doing what he thinks is right. He/Israel is the good guy. Nineveh/Assyria is the bad guy.

Where does that put God?

There's an interesting scene in the book of Joshua. The Hebrew nation is on the verge of entering the Promised Land after 40 years of nomadic life …

Jonah: Nope

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Have you ever heard God speak directly to you? Odds are that you haven't. I would say that most
people don't.

If you did, how would you respond?

The closest I've come to hearing God speak to me happened when I was just out of my freshman year of high school. I was fifteen years old. We were at church camp that summer. It was one of those super emotional nights where a bunch of campers were thinking seriously about their lives. We ended each night with a time of singing. That night so many youth ministers and counselors were busy talking with teens in need that they turned over the song leading to some of us young guys. I got up in the middle of everyone and led a few songs. In that moment I could see and feel the Spirit of God at work in the lives of my peers. In that moment I felt/heard God tell me that this was what I was meant to do with my life.

From that moment on I began to pursue my calling to youth ministry and worship leading. I've been doing that full time f…

Jonah: World's Worst Prophet

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I may be one of the few people in the world who considers Jonah among my favorite books of the Bible. Don't @ me. The book of Jonah has a lot of things going for it:
Emphasis on God's grace, mercy, love, and forgivenessHigh seas adventureNear death experiencesA man swallowed by a gigantic sea creatureAn entire city on the verge of destructionAngry outbursts and melodrama by the overly emotional main characterA protagonist that you just can't really like, but is also super relatableTwists, reversals, and ironic situationsA cliff hanger ending There has been a lot of debate in scholarship about whether Jonah is based on a true story or if it's merely a fictional parable. I'm not going to get into it much except to say that it has a lot of similarities to the stories of Elijah and Elisha. If it's based on a true story, then it's quite a remarkable tale! But if it's not grounded in fact, it is still an amazing story that illustrates God's love to its ful…