Jonah and the Word of God

He was a Jewish prophet who, in the 8th century before Christ, spoke words inspired by God. His name, Jonah, meant “dove”—a bird regarded as a symbol of peace.

The Backstory– He was first known as a prophet who predicted that Jeroboam 2, the tenth king of the northern tribes of Israel, would conquer lands lost to Syria (2Kings 14:25) that had earlier been seized and controlled by king David (2Kings 14:28).

From what we later learn about Jonah, he must have found great satisfaction in a message that would signal a military victory for his people.

But that’s not the part of Jonah’s story that gets the most attention.

Jonah the Reluctant Prophet— Many of us probably grew up knowing Jonah as the prophet who tried to run from a God-given assignment and, as a result, spent three days in the stomach of a great fish, before grudgingly completing his mission.

When he does finally speak in behalf of the God of Israel, he turns out to be a prophet of few words. The only record we have of what Jonah says to the people of Nineveh is found in the fourth verse of the third chapter (Jonah 3:4).

At these words, the whole city cries out for mercy—and gets it.

A Question— What happened? How could it be?

How could God change his mind when the message was so clear—and seemingly unconditional? In forty days God was going to destroy the city (Jonah 3:4). This was the Word of God.

Is there any evidence that God asked… convinced… or forced Jonah to beg, urge, and plead with the citizens of Nineveh to have a change of heart that would turn them from enemies into friends?

Jonah’s Answer— The repentance of Nineveh is what he was afraid of. He knew the God was a compassionate and merciful God (Jonah 4:1-3).

Though unspoken, and undeclared, Jonah knew that there was more to the Word of God—than he had been asked to say to a people that he feared, resented, and hated.

The Bigger Picture— The New Testament later uses Jonah as a backdrop and parallel to Jesus. As Jonah’s story (and possibly grotesquely bleached skin?) of three days in the stomach of a fish signaled to the people of Nineveh that he had been sent by God, so Jesus’ story of rising from three days in the grave would be a compelling sign that he had been sent by a compassionate and merciful God. (Luke 11:29–32).

This may be another indication that— what we read in inspired written words— needs to be understood as backstory to what we are now introduced to in the life giving mercy and grace of the personal, living, and everlasting Word of God (1Peter 1:22-23).

by Mart De Haan

The Faith to Hold Out

Hebrews 12:3-11

Sometimes our life can seem like a long, dark tunnel. Perhaps we are unable to discover a solution for a problem, or we cannot find relief from pain. Regardless of the direction we turn, we can’t find hope for anything better than our present circumstances.

Thankfully, we serve a God who feels our pain and knows our limitations firsthand. Jesus Christ walked through the valley of the shadow of death and cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). This means that when our faith is stretched to the breaking point, our strength is exhausted, and our dreams are shattered like glass, Jesus understands. And He asks us to hold on, even when everything in us screams to give up.

Giving up means abandoning God’s help for our own strength. We try to manipulate a situation or simply avoid pain. In essence, we are choosing to believe that Satan in his worldly power is stronger than Christ within us—which is the exact opposite of what the Bible says is true (1 John 4:4). Of course, the devil is not more powerful, but we let him win a battle if we give up on the assurance that God will see us through difficulty. When we have that attitude, we miss the Father’s blessing and limit our usefulness in His kingdom.

Even when we cannot detect His presence, God is working every moment on our problem. But we must trust His perfect timing for revealing the answer. Your Father knows your hurt, and He will bring you through that dark tunnel. Do not give up before receiving His blessing.

The Lord Our Maker

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)

Psalms 95–100 seem to form a unit with several common themes running through them, all involving praise to the Lord.

One of these major themes is the recognition of the Lord as Maker of heaven and Earth. For example, consider Psalm 95:5: “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.” Thus, God made the earth, including both land and sea. But He also made the heavens! “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).

Higher and far more complex than any planet of the solar system, or any star in the heavens, are the living organisms found only on planet Earth—especially human beings—and He made these too. “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

It is significant that these verses all emphasize the activities of God as Maker, rather than as Creator. In the first chapter of Genesis, both types of activity are stressed, the account finally concluding with the summary: “All his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

The two types of work are almost synonymous when referring to the divine activity, but not quite (otherwise “created and made” would be redundant). Specifically, the three acts of true creation in Genesis are the creation of the physical elements of the cosmos, the entity of biological life, and the spiritual image of God in man (Genesis 1:1, 21, 27). These entities God simply called into being, ex nihilo, by His omnipotent Word.

Everything else He made, or formed or let be, out of the three basic entities that were specially created. He is both Creator and Maker of all things, and we should worship Him as such. HMM

My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for eve

My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.—Psalm 73:26.

O, LITTLE heart of mine!
Shall pain Or sorrow make thee moan,
When all this God is all for thee,
A Father and thine own?
FREDERICK W. FABER.

MAKE allowance for infirmities of the flesh, which are purely physical. To be fatigued, body and soul, is not sin; to be in “heaviness” is not sin. Christian life is not a feeling; it is a principle: when your hearts will not fly, let them go, and if they “will neither fly nor go,” be sorry for them and patient with them, and take them to Christ, as you would carry your little lame child to a tender-hearted, skilful surgeon. Does the surgeon, in such a case, upbraid the child for being lame? ELIZABETH PRENTISS.

When you feel ill and indisposed, and when in this condition your prayer is cold, heavy, filled with despondency, and even despair, do not be disheartened or despairing, for the Lord knows your sick and painful condition. Struggle against your infirmity, pray as much as you have strength to, and the Lord will not despise the infirmity of your flesh and spirit. FATHER JOHN

I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel

I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel. Psalm 16:7

His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor. — Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding, I have strength. — Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. — Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. — Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. — Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. — He knoweth the way that I take. — Man’s goings are of the LORD: how can a man then understand his own way?

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. —This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

Isaiah 9:6. Proverbs 8:14. Psalm 119:105. Proverbs 3:5,6. Jeremiah 10:23. Isaiah 30:21. Proverbs 16:3. Job 23:10. Proverbs 20:24. Psalm 73:24. Psalm 48:14.

A servant of Jesus Christ

A servant of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1

Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. — If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. —Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. — Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. — Thou art no more a servant, but a son.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.

John 13:13. John 12:26. Matthew 11:29,30. Philippians 3:7. Romans 6:22. John 15:15. Galatians 4:7. Galatians 5:1,13.