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When I was teaching overseas earlier this year I was asked by a seminary student of how would I point to Jesus in each chapter of the book of Jonah.

Here’s my answer.

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I imagine many Christians can increase their knowledge of the Minor Prophets.  Here’s a survey of the fifth book of the Minor Prophets: Jonah.

Purpose: We will look at the authorship, purpose, structure and other aspects of the book of Jonah so we would be more familiar with this part of the Bible and yearn to study it for ourselves.

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Are you like Peter or Jonah?

Let me explain.

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For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: Who cast Jonah into the sea?

Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes shows a Bible contradiction:

The sailors

“So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.” (Jonah 1:15)

God

“For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me.” (Jonah 2:3)

(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)

Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:

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Note: I’m in a church retreat this weekend and will be delayed in responding.

We have spent several months going through an exposition of the book of Jonah.  Last week we finally finished our ten part series of outlines!  My prayers are that they edify God’s people and evangelize the Lost.

Here’s the table of content to the series:

Introduction to Book of Jonah

Part 1: Do you think you can run away from God?

Part 2: Are You running from God and Evangelism?

Part 3: Don’t Just Say You Believe

Part 4: A prayer responding to God’s Grace Part 1

Part 5: A prayer responding to God’s Grace Part 2

Part 6: Did Jonah Repented?

Part 7: Parallel of Jonah and Peter

Part 8: How do you respond to God’s mercy?

Part 9: Compassion in Evangelism

Part 10: Jonah and the Rest of the Bible

 

Jonah and the Whale Carlo Antonio Tavella

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Jonah The Scandalous Love of God Youngblood

To purchase the book on Amazon, Click HERE

Jonah is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  I preached through this book two years ago and I learned a lot from it.  So in picking up this new commentary that just came out, I was looking for a work that can get more insights from the text beyond what previous commentaries have pointed out.  This commentary didn’t disappoint—as a matter of fact, I learned a lot of new things about the book of Jonah as a result of reading this book.  At this time I would say that this commentary tops them all.

The author interacts with other major books and articles on the book of Jonah.  The author did a good job with the introduction which on my Kindle indicates that it made up eighteen percent of the book.  There is a lot that is pack in those eighteen percent!  This is the first volume in a new Old Testament commentary series published by Zondervan and the editor aims to make it not just a typical exegetical commentary but one that engages with the text using the tools of discourse analysis, analysis of literary forms, canonical criticism (specifically, the canonical significance of a passage) and insights from inter-textuality.  This commentary is also immensely rich with exegetical insights one expect from a traditional exegetical commentary such as lexical details and grammatical observations.

What were some of the things that I learned from this commentary?  Since there are too many examples I will stick only to some of the highlights in the first two chapter of the book of Jonah.  One literary device the author noted that I haven’t noticed before in the book of Jonah was the use of suppression of historical and geographical detail as a rhetorical device.  Two years ago when I went through Jonah 1:3 in the Hebrew I was stuck with why there is a third person feminine singular suffix for the word fare when I was thinking of Jonah as the referent (therefore should be third person masculine singular) but the author made a good point that this was referring to the ship and therefore one must not miss that Jonah was so desperate to leave God that he paid for the whole ship’s fare.  The author also made the observation that the Hebrew verb for “go” (boa) is used in the story for opposing the movement of God as oppose to other verbs of motion which serves to imply Jonah’s unrighteous heart whenever the word appears.  Youngblood also noted that the adjective “big” appears in the book twelve times and always with reference to obstacles to Jonah and his wishes.  The author also advanced the latest view that Hesed which is typically translated as “loving kindness” actually does not refer to covenantal love but instead to action and attitude of love beyond the call of duty.  The book also made me change my position concerning the prayer of Jonah in chapter two which I originally believed was a prayer of repentance; but the author Youngblood argues that it’s otherwise and quite conclusively I must say.

Whether one is a season exegete or a new student to Biblical Hebrew, this work will be fun, challenging and informative.  If you are going to go through Jonah in great details you need this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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For Exposition of Jonah Part 8 click HERE

Exposition of Jonah How do you respond to God’s mercy

Jonah 4

(Note: This is a long exposition but I think it’s worth reading)

Establish the need: Are you not sharing your faith with others? Are you not excited to hear someone coming to salvation with God?  Or do you do share your faith—but grudgingly?  In summary: Do you have compassion for evangelism?

Main Point: Explore the three S in Jonah chapter 4, so that you would have the compassion for evangelism.

  • Watch for the Symptoms of the lack of compassion for evangelism (v.1-5)
  • See the Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism (v.6-8)
  • Understand the So-Much-More Argument for compassion in evangelism (v.9-11)

Context:Nineveh has just repented from their sins in chapter three where they sought God for mercy.  God was merciful and did not bring about judgment of sin.  This narrative focuses on God’s dealing with Jonah, a transition from God dealing with Nineveh.

 

I. Watch for the Symptoms of the lack of compassion for evangelism (v.1-5)

Passage:But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of [d]it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.”

Proof:

i.      You have anger (v.1)

      1. Nineveh repents from their sins, and Jonah gets angry!
      2. Anger is apparently a big theme because it is mentioned in verse 1, 4, and 9 twice (Kohlenberger, 65).
      3. Verses one parallel earlier 3:9-10; God turning from his calamity (which in the Hebrew is the same word as “evil”), resulted in it being an evil or calamity to Jonah (Kohlenberger, 65).
      4. As soon as God departed from His anger, Jonah picked it up (Kohlenberger, 65).

ii.      Your prayers are short-sighted of God’s mercy (v.2a)

      1. There is the irony that Jonah’s complaint is called a “prayer,” and that this is the same Hebrew word used earlier in 2:1 when God showed mercy to him while now he’s praying to complain about God’s mercy to others (Kohlenberger, 65).
      2. This prayer reveal the problem:  Jonah’s shortsightedness of God’s mercy, as indicated by Jonah’s use of the personal pronoun “I” nine times in this chapter (Kohlenberger, 67).

iii.      You complain of God’s goodness (v.2b)

      1. Only finally in 4:2 do we know of the reason why Jonah fled from God in chapter one in the first place: ““Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish,
      2. For” reveals the reason.
      3. I knew”—This proclamation by Jonah that he knows of Yahweh sparing Nineveh is in contrast to the king of Nineveh in chapter three not knowing that Nineveh will be spared by God.
      4. These attributes of God were known by Jonah from Exodus 32:14!  Yet despite the solid theology, Jonah did not appreciate it for his life and obedience.
      5. The attributes:
        1. gracious

i.      This term is used thirteen times in the Old Testament, always referring to God, with Exodus 22:27 illustrating the meaning of this word which teaches that God will hear the prayer of the one needing his coat back for warmth because He is compassionate (Limburg, 91).

ii.      Favor towards those who are disadvantaged (Youngblood, Location 3086).

iii.      Thus, this term reveals God will act on the basis of compassion and it does not refer to just pity without action.

2. “compassionate

i.      This term is used thirteen times in the Old Testament.

ii.      Always referring to God, and is related to sthe term for “womb” and thus has the idea of motherly love (Limburg, 91).

3. “slow to anger

i.      It is literally a Hebrew idiom meaning “long nostril” and shows that it takes a lot to be angered (Youngblood, Location 3086).

4. “abundant in lovingkindness

i.      This word was previously used in chapter two during Jonah’s prayer, but now is the basis of a complaint.

ii.      It has the idea of strong loyal love as in its use in 1 Samuel 18:1-3 and 1 Samuel 20:14-15 of David and Jonathan’s friendship.

iii.      The use of this term to apply to the situation of God’s response to Nineveh shows that God’s covenantal love is not limited only to Israel, but to those such as the Assyrians as well (Limburg, 92).

5. “and one who relents concerning calamity

iv.      You rather not be around to see God saving someone (v.3)

      1. Apparently Jonah’s reaction to it is so bad he becomes suicidal: “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.
      2. Irony in that Jonah before in chapter two prayed to God to save his soul now in chapter four asks God to take away his soul!
      3. In light of the parallel of this passage to vocabulary in Exodus 32, there is the ironic contrast between Moses begging God to lay down his life in order for God to pardon Israel (Exodus 32:32) here we see Jonah willingness to lay down his life in begging God to destroy Nineveh (Youngblood, Location 3126).

v.       You ignore God’s convicting question (v.4-5)

      1. God’s response in the form of a question: “The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (v.4)
        1. First of three questions in God’s response to Jonah, in which God challenged Jonah by using his own words (Kohlenberger, 67)!
        2. This opens the response from God with a question that summarizes the problem.
      2. Jonah does not even answer God in verse 5, but goes on doing his own thing.
      3. This is the second time Jonah silently walk away from God speaking to Him (Youngblood, 3246).

vi.      You want to see people’s doom (v.5)

      1. Jonah apparently did not answer God’s question but went on to wait for Nineveh’s destruction.  In fact, Jonah was consumed in his concentration of the city as “the city” is mentioned three times in this verse in the Hebrew (Kohlenberger, 68).
      2. and sat east of [d]it”—Jonah came over to Nineveh from the west and kept going east to see the city’s destruction.
      3. Eastward also have a bad connotation of departing for God’s Will in the Bible (Youngblood, 3295):
        1. After the fall Adam and Eve was driven out to the east of the Garden (Genesis 3:24)
        2. After being punished by God, Cain settled in land of Nod described as East of Eden (Genesis 4:16)
      4. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.”
        1. Shelter” some version “booth
        2. This is the same word used to describe temporary shelter in which the Jews lived in the wilderness as instructed by God in Leviticus 23:42-43.
        3. Over in Leviticus 23:42-43, they built it as a rememberance of God’s mercy, here Jonah built it to wait on God’s wrath.

Picture: (Symptoms are signs of our sickness; don’t just address the symptoms without addressing the deeper heart issue); Running nose, and drinking vitamin C can seem almost irrational.

Practice:

i.      We can have good biblical head knowledge; but do we really own up to it and think about it for our every day world?

ii.      Go before God and ask us to reveal these things to us of our problems, and help us change it.

 

II. See the Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism (v.6-8)

Point: Sometimes we can have blindspot in our lives we need God to show us with a Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism as he is doing here with Jonah.

Passage:So the Lord God appointed a [e]plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was [f]extremely happy about the [g]plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “ Death is better to me than life.”

Proof:

i.      God once again in the book of Jonah shows He is Sovereign, that is, in control with the use of the word“appointed

      1. Shows this was not coincidences (Kohlenberger, 43).
      2. Four times this verb is used in Jonah, three times in this chapter (1:17; 4:6, 7, 8).
      3. Each time with a different name for God, and when used in the case with “Yahweh,” it emphasizes the gracious and beneficial action of God such as here and in 4:7 (Limburg, 60).

ii.      First appointment: A plant for a good shade (4:6)

      1. Use of the name of God: “Lord God

Q: Any significance of these two combination?

A: “God” is used in Jonah when God relates to the Gentiles, while “Yahweh” is used in terms of God relating to Jonah, but it is used as a combination here because God is about to show how He dealt with the gentiles of Nineveh will be the way He deals with Jonah (Kohlenberger, 69).

      1. Plant that provided Jonah shade from the discomfort of the sun!
        1. Like the storm in the sea, God is using the sun from nature to teach Jonah a lesson.
        2. Like the big fish, God is using a big plant to show Jonah grace.
      2. There is a word play going on here where the word “discomfort” in the Hebrew is literally “evil” and God saves him from this “evil” of being overheated though not from Jonah’s own fierce anger yet (Kohlenberger, 69).  Thus, Jonah is also spared from the calamity just as Nineveh faced.
      3. extremely happy about the [g]plant”—In the Hebrew literally is “rejoicing rejoice.”  It is in contrast to verse 1 of Jonah being “displeased with great displeasure” (Youngblood, 3396).

iii.      Second appointment: An attacking worm (4: 7)

      1. Small worm to make a big point.
      2. Use of the name of God: “God

Q: Is there any significance of this noun being “God” as opposed to Yahweh?

A: The aspect of God’s relationship to the Gentiles is in view, thus used here to show the analogy God is illustrating to Jonah of how Jonah would have wanted God to deal with the Gentiles is the same way God will illustrate to Jonah.  The disciplinary side of God is emphasized here with this choice of term (Limburg, 96).

      1. it attacked
        1. A term used for judgment upon those who are disobedient in the Scriptures, such as in Deuteronomy 28:22(Kohlenberger, 71).
        2. God is using the worm’s attack as an analogy of the removal of God’s grace.

iv.      Third appointment: A big hot wind (4: 8a)

      1. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head
      2. Note what God brings against Jonah:
        1. the sun

i.      It would make things hot!

ii.      “beat down

Second instance of this verb appearing in chapter four, previously with the worm as the subject attacking the plant but now as the sun, which shows the undesirable state Jonah was in with this repetition, showing the flow of God’s judgment against Jonah.

2. “a scorching east wind

i.      These are the worst dry wind that the Middle East faced.

ii.      The wind is dry and any moisture is extracted from the air with fine dust blowing (Kohlenberger, 70).

iii.      Earlier God taught Jonah a lesson in chapter one by wet rainy winds now He is going to instruct Jonah by the opposite means of a dry hot winds (Kohlenberger, 70)!

iv.      The external heat is going to be used by God to teach Jonah a lesson about his own internal “heat” (which anger is a Hebrew derivative of)

v.      Reverse order than that of chapter 2.

          1. Chapter 2: Troubling WindsàAnimalàRescue.
          2. Chapter 4: RescueàAnimalàTroubling Winds.
          3. Contrast:
            1. Chapter 2: At sea, with problems coming from above. Wet wind.
            2. Chapter 4: On land, with problems coming from above.  Dry wind.

vi.      The response:

        1. The phrase “better I die than I live” echoes the same phrase in verse 3 previously after Jonah complained about Nineveh’s repentance, but here is the response to the plant being gone and the dire whether.
        2. Unlike verse 3 where Jonah ask God to die, here Jonah talks to himself since the text is literally “He asked Himself to die…” (Youngblood, Location 3430).
          1. Jonah’s disposition is looking inward while God’s disposition in the book of Jonah has been looking outward (Youngblood, Location 3480).
          2. Jonah really is not pitying the plant but engages in self-pity!
        3. The author wishes the reader to see the parallel between Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance with the scenario going on here.

Picture: (Parable of a firefighter who complains that people are saved when he puts our fire with the hose, but saved by another firefighter).  YOU ARE THE PERSON!

Practice:

i.      Repetition of Jonah’s lesson:  Sometimes what we need to learn the most is not something new, but something we already know or should know or think we know.

ii.      Has God changed you with our Jonah series?  Are you meditating on God’s Word even as it’s preached, read, etc?

 

III. Understand the So-Much-More Argument for compassion in evangelism (v.9-11)

Point: If plants are precious to Jonah, how much more the souls in Nineveh!

Passage:Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which [h]came up overnight and perished [i]overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

Proof:

i.      God brings the illustration home in verse 9.

      1. The phrase “Why do good if it burns against you?” (הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה־לְךָ) echoes the same phrase in verse 4 previously after Yahweh addressed Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance.
      2. Here it is Yahweh’s response to Jonah’s complaint that the plant being gone and the dire whether.  The author wishes the reader to see the parallel between Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance with the scenario going on here.

ii.      Observation of Jonah’s response to the plant (v.10)

iii.      Argument from the lesser to the greater (v.11)

Concerning those “who do not know the difference between their right and left hand,” these probably refer to children (Kohlenberger, 72).

iv.      God’s level of Grace even as He corrected Jonah

      1. The thirty nine word response of God in 4:10-11 balances Jonah’s thirty nine word response in 4:2 (Limburg, 94).  It shows a level of grace of God not lecturing more than He has to even though He could.
      2. The text use of the name Yahweh in verse 9 is to accent on God’s love and concern (Limburg, 97).

Practice:

i.      How are we to respond?

The book ends with a question which obviously should be answered with a “yes,”

Why a question?  Why not show repentance of Jonah? I think it is to provoke us and make us think a little longer with the lesson rather than just see a happy ever after story.  Do you evangelize with compassion if God is compassionate?

 

Conclusion

We might ask how Jonah responded but God does not tell us but instead ends the message with a question of whether or not God will have mercy on Nineveh.

What about you?  Do you see God’s mercy?  How do you respond to God’s mercy through Jesus Christ?

 

NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 10

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For Exposition of Jonah Part 7 click HERE

Exposition of Jonah How do you respond to God’s mercy

Jonah 3

Establish the need: If you stop and think about it, God has shown much of His mercy to us in very rich ways.  How do we respond to God’s mighty mercy in our lives?

Main Point: If you stop and think about it, God has shown much of His mercy to us in very rich ways.

  •  Responding to God’s mercy means you should obey (v.1-3)
  • Responding to God’s mercy means you should trust in God’s Word (v.4-5)
  • Responding to God’s mercy means you should warn others (v.6a)
  • Responding to God’s mercy means you acknowledge you humble yourself (v.6b-10)

I. Responding to God’s mercy means you should obey (v.1-3)

Passage:Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was [a]an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk.

Proof:

i.      Mercy Shown:

      1. Jonah did not die after being thrown off the ship!
      2. Right before chapter 3: “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” (2:10)

ii.      Response to mercy:

      1. Issued the call to preach again (v.1-2)
        1. Jonah 3:1 is exactly the same in wording with Jonah 1:1 except for “second time” and the omission of “son of Amittai”, and hence it’s important to let the hearers know that this is the re-commissioning of Jonah to go preach to Nineveh.
        2. Jonah 3:2 has the phrase “Arise!  Go to Nineveh the big city and cry out against it” which are the same phrase earlier in Jonah 1:2.  The difference between here and chapter one’s original commission was that the “wickedness” of Nineveh is not mentioned here (Kohlenberger, 57).
        3. The difference between this setting and the first is God’s amazing saving grace, which Jonah responded to and which we should also as well in light of our salvation.
        4. Only Jonah among the prophets hae been given an assignment twice (Limburg, 75).
          1. Unique since no prophet receive second chance (Youngblood, Location 2453).
          2. Demonstrate one can’t coerced God by manipulating His mercy nor His wrath as a way of getting out of His will (Youngblood, Location 2456).
      2. Jonah obeys this time (v.3a)
        1. Again, we see words repeating: The words and phrase “Jonah arose,” “went to Nineveh,” “Word of the Lord” appeared earlier in Jonah 1:3and here it echoes the previous episode and often in Hebrew the same verbs are used to show fulfillment (Kohlenberger, 57).
        2. Obedience is doubly stressed by the phrase, “according to the Word of the Lord” (Kohlenberger, 57).

iii.      Challenge:

      1. The challenge will be focused on the city of Nineveh itself.
        1. The spotlight is on Nineveh since seven times in this short section Nineveh is mentioned at verse 2, 3 (x2), 4, 5, 6, 7(Limburg, 77).
        2. Remember, It is a blood thirsty city according to Nahum 3:1.
      2. Now Nineveh was [a]an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk.” (3b)
        1. Second half of verse 3 onward focuses on how big Nineveh was.
        2. The three days of journey of Nineveh was probably not saying it was across or around as it is suggesting more of how long it would have taken Jonah to work through the city (Kohlenberger, 57).
        3. According to archaeological dig, Nineveh was probably eight miles in circumference (Price, 53).
        4. Focus was more on the difficulty of Jonah reaching the city with the message.

Practice:

i.      We can have the joy of living out the commands of the Bible if we have the proper perspective of mercy.  Write down a list of what God has done in your life that you are thankful for.

ii.      Study the Bible in your own personal time to see the mercy of God, then it makes you want to walk and live for Him as you see God’s mercy and goodness.

 

II. Responding to God’s mercy means you should trust in God’s Word (v.4-5)

Point: We should believe God’s Word.

Passage:Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.

Proof:

i.      Mercy Shown (v.4)

      1. Every time we hear the Word of God preached that warns us of our sins, it is the act of God’s mercy.
      2. Message:
        1. overthrown”—Intriguing verb which was used earlier to describe Somon and Gomorrah’s destruction in Genesis 19:21, 25, 29 (Youngblood, Location 2650).
        2.  “forty days

i.      In the Bible, 40 days have been a time of testing or judgment such as Noah’s flood being for forty days, Elijah in the wilderness in 1 Kings 19 and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness as seen in Matthew 4:2 (Kohlenberger, 59-60).

ii.      For Jewish reader this number will recall Noah’s flood narrative and be reminded of a time before Israel existed and how God is a God who dealt with all nations (Youngblood, Location 2631).

iii.      Moses also spent 40 days interceding for his people before God for His mercy after the Golden Calf incident in Exodus 34:28 (Youngblood, Location 2624).

iv.      This period of time suggest two possible fate: destruction (like the flood) or God’s mercy (like Moses’ plea).

ii.      People’s response to mercy (v.5)

      1. It’s amazing to realize the response from the people of Nineveh, that Jonah’s mission was suppose to be for three days yet on the first day there was already a response (Kohlenberger, 60).
      2. Trust in God: “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God
      3. After believing they followed with action showing it
        1. they called a fast
        2. put on sackcloth
      4. Extent: “from the greatest to the least of them.

iii.      Challenge:

      1. Incredible that these people perhaps have never heard of the God of the Bible before this, and they respond!  They went by faith!
      2. While it is not conclusion what was omitted in Jonah’s message seem to indicate that Jonah wasn’t trying to present it in such a way that it make sense for them to respond favorably towards God.
        1. Prophets normally say “Thus says Yahweh” but this is omitted (Youngblood, Location 2621).
        2. Jonah also omitted the reason why God was judging them (Youngblood, Location 2624).
        3. Nor did Jonah say how the wrath of God can be averted (Youngblood, Location 2621).

Practice: We cannot think of application without asking the question: Is God something we trust—even with its bad news?

 

III. Responding to God’s mercy means you should warn others (v.6a)

Point: You should share the message of God’s wrath and mercy if you know about God’s wrath—and mercy.

Passage:When the word reached the king of Nineveh,”

Proof:

i.      Mercy Shown:

    1. Main subject of this clause is “the word” and not the king. Thus the main focus is not on the king but the message.
    2. Somehow the word was shared to the king as a warning.

ii.      Response to mercy:

      1. This passage does not indicate who shared it to the king but nevertheless it is those who needed God’s mercy.
      2. This passage suggests that it was the people who took the initiative to seek God’s mercy and to tell him about God’s wrath which is contrary to the Ancient Near East expectation that it is the King who lead religious activitites (Youngblood, Location 2695).

iii.      Challenge:

      1. It is not easy to share a message of warning of God’s pending wrath.
      2. What made it more difficult for people to share in this instance is that this is “the king of Nineveh,”

Picture: (Sharing the Gospel in Watts, South Central and war zone is not easy)

Practice:

i.      Don’t let people make you scared of sharing the Gospel and warning them of the consequences of their sins—be courageous for God and love them!

ii.      To rid one’s fear of man that challenges us to share God’s warning to others, cultivate a fear of God in light of His mercy shown to you!

 

IV. Responding to God’s mercy means you acknowledge you humble yourself (v.6b-10)

Point: A mark of someone seeking God’s mercy is humility.

Passage:he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the [b]ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let [c]men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in [d]his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would [e]bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Proof:

i.      Mercy Shown: Remember God was merciful to allow the king to be warned.

ii.      Response to mercy:

    1. King’s personal response is of humility (4 ways)
      1. he arose from his throne,” (v.6b) —Thereby “relinquishing the trappings of royal authority” (Youngblood, Location 2727); he didn’t just pontificate from his chair.
      2. laid aside his robe from him” (v.6b) —wealth and prestige is lay aside (Youngblood, Location 2727).
      3. covered himself with sackcloth,” (v.6b)
      4. and sat on the [b]ashes.” (v.6b)
    2. Note king’s response is of a downward motion: “he arose”à “and sat on the [b]ashes.”
    3. The King also issued a proclamation that submitted his city under God (v.7-9)
      1. Note there is no strong arming God as indicated when the king reveal the purpose of his proclamation in verse 9.
      2. King says “Who knows, God may turn and relent” rather than a presumptuous “God will;” quite humbling for a king.

iii.      Challenge: Again in the Ancient Near East the king is suppose to determine religious activity but here we see a grass root response of the people to the warning of Jonah and the King is not pridefully set against them for not being the first.

Practice:

i.      Don’t see our points here today as a magic formula to manipulate God to forgive you; know that God is God and can do what He wants, and it is His free desire to show mercy to you!

ii.      To the degree you understand God is judge and Sovereign is the degree of your response to God’s mercy with humility.  Are you being humble before God?

 NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 9

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 For Exposition of Jonah Part 6 click HERE

The-Storm-on-the-Sea-of-Galilee-Rembrandts-painting

Selected Scriptures

I’m amazed at all the little golden nuggets in the book of Jonah this second time studying it.

Before moving onto Jonah 3, I thought I share with you some of the parallels I see between Jonah and the Apostle Peter.  There is a beautiful connection between one part of the Bible with another.  This should give us a source of awe of the Author of the Bible and Redemptive History.

Parallel of Jonah with Peter

  1. Both were not perfect in how they served God.
  2. Both wanted God to leave them alone in a body of water: Peter in Luke 5:8.
  3. Both face a crisis during a storm.
  4. Both receive second chance to submit to their calling after coming out of a body of water: Peter in John 21.
  5. Both were first to cross Jew/Gentile boundaries: Peter in Acts 10 (Youngblood, Location 2496).
  6. Jonah fled from Joppa to flee from going to the Gentiles; Peter was at Joppa in Acts 10:5-6 where the opportunity first began for God to draw Gentiles (Youngblood, Location 2496).

It’s interesting to see the last point.  The contrast with Jonah and Peter in the location of Joppa is that in the case of the New Testament church the time of the Gentiles was beginning and which we are presently in right now.

More than character studies, I think we should be at awe in the Sovereignty of God who orchestrate history and also wrote these parallels in Scripture.

 NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 8

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 For Exposition of Jonah Part 5 click HERE

Jonah whale

Jonah 2

The good thing about studying further a series after you preach on something is that you are able to go back for deeper study.  Sometimes that means you come to a better conclusion that you had originally.  Case in point?  The last few weeks going through Jonah chapter two I was struggling with whether or not Jonah repented in the belly of the Big Fish.  The following is my conclusion, my reasons and what I see is the implication for our lives.

Further Consideration: Did Jonah Repented?

(A) Jonah saying “While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,” (v.7a)

(1) Inversion of Noahic flood where Genesis 8:1 where “God remembered Noah,” since it’s God’s initiative that saves Jonah rather than the other way around (Youngblood, Location 2172).

(2) The faithful in the Bible typically confess that it’s Yahweh remembering them rather than they taking the initiative to remember God such as in Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 1:11, 19; 2 Kings 20:3, Psalms 25:7, 106:4, Jeremiah 15:15, etc (Youngblood, Location 2175).

(B) Jonah’s prayer makes no reference to wrong doing and lacks confession or sorrow over his own sin (Youngblood, Location 2183).

(C) Jonah’s prayer has tension that indicate he might not understand the difference between penance and repentance

(1) Jonah 2:8 talks about other sinners who were idolators but there is not acknowledgement of his immediate sin and situation at hand.

(2) In contrast to the Idolators he compares himself as one who gives sacrifice to the Lord in the next verse in Jonah 2:9.  He is comparing himself to others rather than comparing his sins to God’s standards.

(3) In Jonah 2:9 Jonah said “which I have vowed I will pay.”  He might be having a works righteousness mentality going on here.

(D) Jonah’s attitude later on when Nineveh repented reveals that Jonah might not have had any heart change despite his initial behavior.

We can legitimately go to the conclusion to help illuminate what came before since the book of Jonah likes to use the literary device of intentionally leave out details in the beginning only to reveal it in a later scene what Jonah’s mind was thinking:

(1) The secret of Jonah’s reason for not going to Nineveh

(2) The secret of Jonah’s God with the mariner

What can we learn from Jonah not repenting?

(A) Action is not enough!  Jonah did outwardly carry out God’s plan but it’s important to confess our sins especially in light of 1 John 1:9 that He is faithful to cleanse us when we do!

(B) Make sure you do repent!

 NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 7

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81c8f9dd08c720e05b216fc2be7c86b3

Jonah 1:17-2:10

Introduction: We pick up from last week with part two of our look at Jonah 1:17-2:10 to see what it teaches us about praying in response to God’s grace.

Establish the need: Do you know what a prayer of responding to God’s grace look like?

 Purpose: To see the four characteristics of what a prayer responding to God’s grace looks like so we can truly commune with God.

In addition we will add a fifth point to emphasize the foundation of our response rest on God’s grace and not the other way around.

OUTLINE

Grace driven prayer begins with remembering God in your trials (v.5-7a, 1:17)

Grace driven prayer desires God’s presence again (v.4, 7b)

Grace driven prayer confesses sin (v.3, 8)

Grace driven prayer involves involve our will (v.2, 9)

God’s mercy and salvation before our prayer of confession (v.17, 10)

 (NOTE: Last week we went over points 1-3, in this post we focus on points 4-5)

 

IV. Grace driven prayer involves our will (v.2, 9)

Passage:and he said,“I called out of my distress to the Lord, And He answered me.  I cried for help from the [c]depth of Sheol;You heard my voice.”

AND

But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving.  That which I have vowed I will pay.  Salvation is from the Lord.”

Proof:

i.      In verse 2, “I called out” literally is “I cry out.”

      1. Later in the same verse same Hebrew verb is being stated but translated in the NASB as “I cried” and specifically “for help
      2. One can imagine one’s will and passion behind this cry for help when one is facing the possibility of drowning.

ii.      Jonah’s desire for a future action:

      1. But I will sacrifice to You” (v.9a)
      2. That which I have vowed I will pay.”(v.9a)

iii.      Jonah wishes one day to present sacrifice “With the voice of thanksgiving” (v.9) which obviously require one’s volition to freely do this task.

Practice:

i.      It is not enough to give lip service to God’s grace; rather God’s grace should drive our will into action!

ii.      Do you see fruits in your life in light of your understanding of the Gospel, God’s grace and Jesus Christ as Savior?

iii.      If you don’t see fruit, then study God’s grace more intensely so that you will love Him and truths about Him will change your will by the working of the Holy Spirit.

 

V. God’s mercy and salvation before our prayer (1:17, 10)

Passage: 17 [a]And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

AND

10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Proof:

i.      Right away God allowed a great fish to ensure Jonah didn’t drown (1:17)

ii.      Then after “Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17) we read 2:10 of Jonah being brought back to “dry land.”

iii.      Both instances it was the Lord behind it as both verses emphasize with “appoint” and “command.

iv.      One COMMENT: “and it vomited Jonah up” (v.10) was probably God’s merciful way of humbling Jonah with his dangerous pride since the OT consistently portray vomiting negatively in places like Leviticus 18:25-28, 20:22, Isaiah 19:14, 28:8, Jeremiah 25:27, etc(Youngblood, Location 2269).

Practice: Ultimately, it’s not our prayers that bring God’s grace since God’s grace happens even before our prayers; do you therefore pray prayers of thanksgiving for His grace?

 NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 6

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Jonah and the Whale Carlo Antonio Tavella

Jonah 1:16

Establish the need: If you say you believe in God, does your attitude, action and words show this to be true?

Purpose: Don’t just fool yourself in saying everything is okay since you believe in God, but see that you have the attitude of fearing God, action of sacrifice and commitment to your words to Him.

Today’s three points:

Don’t just say you believe in God, do you fear Him? (v.16a)

Don’t just say you believe in God, do you offer sacrifice to Him? (v.16b)

Don’t just say you believe in God, do you keep your words to Him? (v.16c)

Passage:

16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

Background

Jews as light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6)

Jews did not do a good job of being a good testimony to the nations

Same with Jonah

Ironically, Gentiles were coming to faith here!

 

I. Don’t just say you believe in God, do you fear Him? (v.16a)

Note: This will have the biggest focus in today’s sermon because it’s the least taught concept in the churches today in general, because it’s often misunderstood and because a proper understanding of it leads to the other point.

Point: If you your belief in God mean anything, you should have the proper attitude of fear for Him.

Passage:Then the men feared the Lord greatly,”

Proof:

    1. My translation: “The men feared with a great fear
    2. Twice the word “fear” shows up
      1. Once as a verb.
      2. Once as a noun.
    3. Q: Why twice mention of fear?
      1. A: To intensify the action.
    4. This verse is the conclusion of the narrative that began in verse 4 and fuller appreciation of it must flow from the context of chapter 1.

a. Fear is a running theme in Chapters 1.

i.      The men feared the storm in verse 5.

ii.      The phrase, “The men greatly feared” is repeated twice in chapter 1, once in verse 10 and again here in verse 16 to show their fear of Yahweh.

b. The center of the narrative focuses on the fear of God

i.      Chiastic Structure of Jonah 1:4-16 [SEE POWER POINT].

  • Lord hurl wind, storm begins (1:4)
  •             Sailors pray and act (1:5ab)
  •                         Jonah outrageous act (lies down, sleeps; 15:c)
  •                                     Captain/sailors question Jonah (1:6-8)
  •                                                 Jonah speaks (1:9)
  •                                     Sailors question Jonah (1:10-11)
  •                         Jonah outrageous suggestion (1:12)
  •             Sailors act, pray (1:13-14)
  • Sailors hurl Jonah, storm ends (1:16)

 ii.      Beginning in 1:4, there are 94 words before the beginning of the speech in 1:9 (“I am a Hebrew”) and 94 words in 1:10-15 (Limburg, 48).

iii.      Q: What did Jonah say in v. 9?

A: ““He said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.’””

iv.      What verse 9 reveals about God

1. Focuses on the God of the Hebrews (Bible).

2. The name of God: Yahweh.

3. Yahweh is the Creator of the sea and dry land.

4. Verse 9 emphasizes Yahweh as Creator of the Sea (Irony).

Picture: (The different kind of fear distinguished: That of terror of a lion, that of a loving father).

Practice:

i.      Ask yourself Do you fear God like the way you fear your father?

1. If not, turn to Him for salvation!

2. If so, continue to do so!

ii.      Cultivate fear of God in your life

      1. Think about all the things God has done in your life in which He pulled you through or rescue you.  Just like the sailors, how could you not then fear Him?
      2. Read the Bible often, there are things that would make you have a proper fear of Him (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

II. Don’t just say you believe in God, do you offer sacrifice to Him? (v.16b)

Point: If you your belief in God mean anything, you should follow through with actions that honors Him.

Passage:and they offered a sacrifice”

Proof:

1. My translation: “and they offered an offering

2. Again, twice the word “offering” shows up

a. Once as a verb.

b. Once as a noun.

3. Q: Why twice mention of offering?

A: To intensify the action.

4. The verb “offer” is literally sacrifice.  In the Qal stem in the Hebrew, it always refer to real animal sacrifice (Sasson, 139).

5. Therefore, it involves real action, works and costs!

6. What God wants is more than sacrifice: He wants obedience (Psalm 50:7-16)!

7. The principle of having faith so called without works is also addressed in the New Testament in James 2:19-20.

Picture: (Limbo; if you really believe it would make you respond)

Practice:

i.      The New Testament does teach the importance of sacrifices, though in a different form: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that [a]give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).  Do you see your worship on Sunday morning as a sacrifice offered to God?

ii.      Sacrifice involves cost.  In what you have done in serving God, what have it costs you?

iii.      Do you spend money sacrificially for the cause of Christ?

iv.      Count the costs of what God has done for you, then go do the hard things!

      1. If not, turn to Him for salvation!
      2. If so, continue to do so!

v.      Cultivate fear of God in your life

      1. Think about all the things God has done in your life in which He pulled you through or rescue you.  Just like the sailors, how could you not then fear Him?
      2. Read the Bible often, there are things that would make you have a proper fear of Him (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

III. Don’t just say you believe in God, do you keep your words to Him? (v.16c)

Point: You will keep your word with God.

Passage: “and made vows.”

Proof:

Note they “made vows.

This followed their action of making a sacrifice.

Practice:

i.      Have your faith in such a way that it leads you follow God with your action.  This is possible by the grace of God.

 

CONCLUSION

We must not forget Jesus in all of this.  He also taught the concept of fearing God, but in the context of God, hell and us: Luke 12:4-5.

We are made to fear things by God.  If we don’t fear God, and become His slave the sad thing is, we will fear and become enslave everything else.  Turn to Jesus.  Sailors are great analogy for our condition.

 

NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 4

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Jonah and the Whale Carlo Antonio Tavella

Jonah 1:3-17

Establishing the need: Are you running away from God or opportunities from God to be obedient in sharing the gospel?

 We can see symptoms in our lives of disobedience or running away from the LORD when we are not praying, not honoring and not having our lives filed with the things of God.

 

There is an irony in Jonah chapter one, in that Jonah is suppose to be a prophet who speaks the Word of God and point out other’s sin, yet here those who did not know the God of the Bible speaks more than the prophet did and point out the prophet’s own sin.

Purpose: This morning we will see three questions that nonbelievers asks of Jonah when he ran away from God, so that it will also challenge us as believers to be obedient and not runaway from the command to share the gospel.

Outline:

How can you not pray to God when He is pursuing you (v.4-6)?

How can you not honor Him when He is a part of your identity (v.7-9)?

How can you not turn back to God when your disobedience affects others (v.10-15)?

 

I. How can you not pray to God when He is pursuing you (v.4-6)?

  1. Point: God is in control of all things, and He is more than capable of bringing about events to make you realize your need for Him.  If you realize God is pursuing you, will you turn to God in prayer?
  2. Passage:The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to [a]break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the [b]cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it [c]for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.
  3. Proof:

i.      Verse 2 and 3 have already established that Jonah was running away from God on a ship to Tarshish.  Jonah did not want to preach to those in Nineveh.

ii.      Now verse 4 indicates that there was a great storm.

iii.      Who caused the Storm?—“The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea” (v.4a)

The Hebrew form for “hurled:

In the Hebrew, the form communicates a causative idea, with the LORD as the one who causes the hurling of the great wind.

It calls to mind the throwing of a spear such as in 1 Samuel 18:11, 20:33 (Youngblood, Location 1015).

This is the first of four times the verb “hurl” or “throw” is mentioned in this passage.

The effect of the great wind is a great storm.

iv.      How bad was the storm?  Four descriptions (v.4b-5a):

1. “so that the ship was about to [a]break up” (v.4b)

…the ship was about to break up” literally is “…the ship thought to break up.

Thought” here is the only instance in the Hebrew of using it with an inanimate subject, to personify the ship thinking itself will break and thus showing how dramatic the storm is (Limburg, 48-49).

2. “Then the sailors became afraid (v.5a)

Traveling to Tarshish from Israel would have been a long journey, and these sailors would have no doubt been experienced, yet they were afraid.

First time fear is mentioned in this passage but won’t be the only time.

In the beginning of this passage, we see that the sailors were only afraid of the situation.  But their fear is only going to intensify.

3. “and every man cried to his god,(v.5a)

The sailors’ ethnicity were likely Phoenicians, and they would have pleaded to Baal or Melqart, their god of rain and thunder (Kohlenberger, 33).

Down to a man, they prayed to their own god in vain.

4. “and they threw the [b]cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it [c]for them.” (v.5a)

Second time the word “throw” or “hurl” appears.

The throwing was an attempt to save the ship.

Those on the ship was really afraid, since ships of the Mediterranean would have carried precious cargoes such as metals, ivory, animals and other products (Limburg, 49).

                v.      Jonah’s response (v.5b)

      1. More appropriately, is his lack of response.
      2. It is rather surprising for us as readers to find where Jonah was.
      3. In contrast to the rest of the shipmates, “But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship,”
      4. In contrast to the rest of the shipmates’ desperation, Jonah “lain down and fallen sound asleep.
      5. The rest of those on bard are struggling to stay alive, Jonah resign himself to death (Youngblood, Location 1210).

vi.      The Captain’s question and rebuke

Question: “ So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping?” (v.6)

Command: “Get up, call on your god.”

Irony that someone who is not a follower of the true living God is exhorting a true believer to pray (Kohlenberger, 34).

Jonah must have heard echoes of God’s original command since the captain’s first command “Get up,” was originally the first command God had for Jonah in 1:2 (Kohlenberger, 34).

Reason: “Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.

4. Practice:

i.      Let the questions that the captain asks also be questions that’s asked to us:

1. “ So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping?” (v.6)

There is incredible irony that Christians who know best what is going on in the world, can act like we are asleep while the world tremble in ignorance but know enough to realize there is a problem in the world.

2. “Get up, call on your god.”

In one word: Pray!

ii.      If nonbelievers ask you to pray for them, pray for them and pray that God will use those circumstances to draw them to Himself.

 

II. How can you not honor Him when He is a part of your identity (v.7-9)?

  1. Point: The Bible teaches that when God has saved you and given you eternal life, your whole identity has changed: You are a new creation!  Your desire has also changed:  In light of this, how can you not want to honor Him when He is a part of your identity?
  2. Passage:Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may [d]learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “ Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”
  3. Proof:

i.      The shipmates wonders about the cause of the storm (v.7)

1. Jonah’s silence and disobedience?

a. Since Jonah was a prophet, one would have expected that Jonah would have prayed or preached to the sailors after the captain’s command in verse 6, but this is not what we find.  Instead the sailors were speaking.

b. Perhaps Jonah first disobedience to preach to Nineveh also led him to have a callous heart not to preach

2. READ Jonah 1:7.

ii.      The shipmates’ volley of five questions (v.8)

1. “On whose account has this calamity struck us?”

a. This is their main question since “calamity” is repeated from verse 7 with the reasons why they cast lot in the first place.

b. Yet the most important question is one that Jonah will not immediately answer (Kohlenberger, 35)!

2. “What is your occupation?

Jonah does not tell them he is a prophet, which is his very identity!

3. “And where do you come from?

4. “What is your country?

5. ‘From what people are you?

iii.      Jonah’s answer focuses on his identity (v.9)

– Jonah the prophet finally speaks for the first time in this book!

– Turning point of the chapter!

      1. National identity: “I am a Hebrew,
        1. This answers the last three questions the sailors had.
        2. It also helped narrow down which God Jonah has offended.
      2. Believer of the God of the Bible: “and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”
        1. Some of your version might say “I worship the LORD,” but literally in the Hebrew is “I fear the LORD.
        2. His identity is tied in with fearing the true living God, which of course at that moment he was disobedient towards.
        3. Fear is an important theme throughout this chapter!

4. Picture: Evangelism is something I don’t always feel comfortable doing either, especially when others might be hostile to what I have to say.  I remember working one time, and I overheard some Christians trying to witness and defend the Bible is true.  They beckoned me to join them and I finally can’t help it but I had to join in the conversation because so much of who I am is defined by my relationship and identity in God and Christ Jesus.  I have to share the Word of God because it’s in my identity.

5. Practice:

i.      We need to have the questions asked to Jonah be asked of us:

      1. And where do you come from?
      2. What is your country?
      3. From what people are you?

When you answer these questions, does your relationship with God enter into the picture of your identity?

ii.      Our identity in Christ and God is important when we share the gospel:  We don’t evangelize to become a Christian or to get saved, but rather we are saved and going to heaven and therefore knowing the goodness of God in our lives that define who we are, we evangelize.

 

III. How can you not turn back to God when your disobedience affects others (v.10-15)?

1. Point: You need to realize that when you are disobedient to God, the consequences of it affect others.  This should discourage us from being disobedient to God and make us consider more carefully when we choose the route of disobedience.

2. Passage:10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “[e]How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm [f]for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm [g]for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men [h]rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”  15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.

3. Proof:

i.      After realizing what Jonah said, the sailors fear increased: “Then the men became extremely frightened” (v.10a)

Literally in the Hebrew, “the men feared a great fear” to emphasize the intensity of their fear.  It is greater than the fear first mentioned in verse 5 of the storm.

Now their fear is not in ignorance: “For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them” (v.10b)

The sea is frightening, the storm is too, but there is nothing like fearing the God behind the storm and sea—God Himself!

ii.      The people’s two questions to Jonah (v.10-11)

A question expressing amazement: “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them” (v.10)

Be reminded these are people who did not believe in the God of the Bible, who have more sense than Jonah, and asked him pointedly how can he runaway from God.

A question seeking for rescue: “11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm [f]for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. (v.11)

iii.      Jonah’s proposed solution (v.12)

      1. Jonah’s radical proposal: ““Pick me up and throw me into the sea.
        1. For the third time, the verb “throw” is stated.
        2. It’s ironic to note how the whole time, the crew and Jonah think that the solution to escape what God is doing is to throw something down!
      2. Reason why: “Then the sea will become calm [g]for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.

iv.      Unlike Jonah, the people’s wanted to do what is right (v.13-15)

      1. At first they did not listen at first to Jonah’s advice: “13 However, the men [h]rowed desperately to return to land …” (v.13a)
      2.  But they were unsuccessful: “but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them” (v.13b)
      3. Finally they did as Jonah wanted (v.14-15)

a. The men’s prayer: “14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”

i.      It’s a prayer of fear and desperation of being trapped because they happened to be with disobedient Jonah.

ii.      Yet incredible irony:

          1. Unlike before, they did not pray to their own gods but to the true living God!
          2. Unlike Jonah, they did pray to God.
          3. Unlike Jonah, they wanted to do what is right: “and do not put innocent blood on us;  

b. The men’s action (v.15)

i.      Word for word fulfillment here with Jonah’s command in verse 12: So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea,”

ii.      Result: “and the sea stopped its raging.

4. Picture: If you really understand that not evangelizing will affect people’s eternity, how can you not be obedient to return to God and share your faith?  Hear the words of an atheist comedian, Penn Jillette who as a non-Christian say these telling words:

I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? “I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.” (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/11/17/how-much-do-you-have-to-hate-somebody-to-not-proselytize/)

5. Practice:

i.      Before the Lord, are the questions Jonah asked relevant to you: “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them” (v.10)

ii.      Study the doctrine of sin, hell and grace—the more you know the effect of sins, the more you would want to evangelize.

iii.      If you struggle with a cold heart that does not evangelize, try sitting down at a Chinese supermarket, sit down in the curb and watch people coming and going; try eating at midnight at a Yoshinoya or a restaurant in the middle of the week, and see what kind of people who are older and probably have no wife and kids that would eat alone after a long night of work; before you know it, your heart will melt, your ability to have tears just flow and you say, to yourself, how can you not evangelize?

 

CONCLUSION

There is a structure in Hebrew call Chiasm, which is a literary device to show what is important; in Jonah 1, the climax of the chapter is in verse 9: “and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

Notice what happen when Jonah or you talk about the fear of God:

16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. 

Ironically, Jonah the one who did not want to preach, say this one important climatic line, and God does the rest to bring them to a true faith.

We are to preach the truth to all people no matter where you are at and what circumstances.

There was a man name John Harper who was suppose to come over from Britain to pastor the famous Moody Bible Church.  The ship he was on, was the Titanic:

 When the Titanic was struck by the iceberg that drove in her sides and sent the ship to the bottom, John Harper was leaning against the railing, pleading with a young man to come to Christ. Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotsman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and said, ‘I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a piece of wood that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper of Glasgow on a piece of wreckage near me. He said to me, ‘Man, are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m not.’ He replied, ‘Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you’ll be saved.’ And the waves bore him away, but strange to say, brought him back a little later, and again he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I can’t honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’ And shortly after, he went down beneath the water. And there alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed, and I am John Harper’s last convert.'”

(SOURCE)

NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 3

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 For Introduction to Book of Jonah click HERE

Abraham-Storck-xx-A-Venetian-Pilgrim-Ship-in-an-Italian-Port

 

Jonah 1:1-3

 

Establish the need: Do you think you can run away from God?

 

Purpose: To see three reasons why a child of God cannot outrun God, in order to see that it’s folly to do so and obey God today.

 

Passage:

 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

 

Outline

  • Jonah’s commission (v.1)
  • Jonah’s mission (v.2)
  • Jonah’s rebellion (v.3)

 

  • If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of your personal identity involves Him (v.1)
  • If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His presence (v.2)
  • If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His providence (v.3)

 

Overview: The story is going to go very fast—all the characters are all introduce already in the first three verses—Yahweh, Jonah, the people of Nineveh and the sailors (Limburgh, 37).

 

 I. If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of your personal identity involves God (v.1)

o       Passage:The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying,

o       Proof

    • Verse one sets up the situation of the story.
    • The meaning of Jonah’s name.
      • Q: What does Jonah’s name mean?
      • Jonah actually means “dove” (Limburgh, 38).
      • There is a connotation of peace associated with that name, since dove is associated with peace.
    • The meaning of “the son of Amittai
      • Q: Does Amittai mean anything?
      • He is the son of Amittai.
      • Amittai means “truth,” and there is a word play here that he is the son of truth (Limburg, 38).
    • Jonah is a prophet.
      • The word of the Lord came to
        1. The formula “the Word of the Lord came…” is a frequent one to indicate God calling out a prophet such as in Jeremiah 1:2, Ezekiel 1:3, Hosea 1:1, Joel 1:1, Micah 1:1, Zephaniah 1:1, Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 1:1, Malachi 1:1.
        2. In all other instances, God’s prophet responds appropriately—except in the case of Jonah (Kohlenberger, 28).
      • By mentioning whom Jonah was the son of, the author wishes to communicate that this is the one and the same prophet mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25.
        1. Jonah was previously famous for making a positive prediction about the success of King Jeroboam II according to 2 Kings 14:25.
        2. It is significant to point out that a prophet’s message might be positive at times, but can also be perceived by others as negative as well, but it must still be preached.  He was probably quite popular in his country, being one who prophesied well in favor of kings and military manners (Limburg, 38).

o       Picture: (I tried to act in life at one point of not being a Christian; but being genuinely born again, it was impossible to do.)

o       Practice:

    • This passage shows us that just because you were faithful to God before does not mean you will do so in the future, so make sure you are constantly searching your heart that you do not slip.
    • Walk closely with God! If you really know God, your personal identity will become attached with Him; and to deny Him, is to deny who you are.

 

II. If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His presence (v.2)

o       Passage:“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me”

o       Proof

    • Because God is all present, Jonah was given three commands
      • “Arise,
        1. Verb has the idea of getting up.
        2. It is used to communicate the idea of start acting immediately (Price, 6).
      • go to Nineveh the great city
        1. Not an easy command because of distance.
          • It is near the modern city of Mosul, and two hundred and fifty miles north of Baghad (Limburg, 40).
          • It is five hundred miles away from Jonah’s home by air (Limburg, 40).
        2. Not an easy command because of it’s reputation.
          • The city’s importance began around 740s B.C., and was the capial of the world’s most powerful empire during Jonah’s time (Limburg, 40).
          • It is a blood thirsty city according to Nahum 3:1.
    • and cry against it
      1. Jonah was called to preach there.
      2. The message was not going to be positive.
    • The reason for Jonah’s commission: Sin is inescapably before God’s presence
      • for
        1. The Hebrew word here is כִּי.
        2. It is a conjunction that function to introduce a causal clause for why Jonah will be going to cry out against it.
      • their wickedness has come up before Me”
        1. wickedness
          • Significant term in the book of Jonah, appearing a total of ten times (Kohlenberger, 29).
          • Refers to that which is absolutely wrong in God’s sight (Kohlenberger, 29).
        2. has come up before Me
          • Can also be translated as “in the presence of me
          • Shows that evil is before God, even though it’s not in heaven or in God’s temple in Israel back then.

o       Picture: (Story of boy walking to school alone for the first time but really behind him several steps was mother hovering over and nearby.  In the same matter we can’t out run God)

o       Practice:

    • God being all present can either be taken as a good thing or bad thing.
    • God’s presence means that sins will not be left unpunished.  Have you gone to God and given these sins to God in repentance and let it be nailed to the cross?
    • God’s presence means that He is always there with you and sees everything done wrong against the innocent.  Have you reflected on these truths with your problems, your struggles?

 

III. If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His providence (v.3)

o       Picture: (I like Silent film;  what it lacks in media of sound it makes up with emphasis on visual of facial expression; Point: Bible is an amazing literature in the same way,where there are rhetorical devices to emphasize certain points despite not being a “movie”).

o       Passage:But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

o       Proof

    • This verse will show Jonah’s rebellion.
      • But” is a contrastive, to show that what Yahweh commanded is going to be different from what Jonah will do.
    • The multiple verbs show the desperateness of Jonah to try to escape Yahweh!
      • But Jonah rose up

Q: Is there any significance that this is the first verb of what Jonah did with the fact that this same verb is also the first command Yahweh gave to Jonah?

A: It leads the readers to think at first Jonah was going to do what Yahweh does, but there’s going to be a twist: Jonah is going to do the opposite!  Implication of it is that how many of us do the same thing by doing what seems to be at first doing the right thing, but then in our hearts we treasure and plan to do otherwise?

    • It captures how Jonah tries to escape from Yahweh horizontally and veritically towards , as in towards the eventual direction of the bottom of the sea (Limburg, 43).
      • Jonah is flee horizontally towards Tarshish
        1. to flee to Tarshish

Hebrew infinitive to show the purpose of Jonah was to flee to Tarshish!

    1. Author wishes readers to note “Tarshish” is important by mentioning it three times.
    2. Where is it at?
      • Tarshish is identified as southwest Spain (Kohlenberger, 30).
      • It is the southwestern coastline (Limburg, 43).
      • Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 27:12, 25 describes it as a rich place during biblical times.
      • Isaiah 66:19 describes it as a place so remove from Israel that they have not heard of God’s fame.  It’s as if Jonah wants to head towards the edge of civilization.
    3. Why?  “from the presence of the Lord.
      • An important point since this phrase is repeated twice in this verse alone.
      • However, verse 2 earlier also mention “from the presence of me,” which is referring to the LORD and thus the phraseology is repeated a total of three times in this passage!
      • The direction of movement is away from Yahweh’s presence, and thus Jonah was actually running away from God Himself (Limburg, 42).
      • This is ironic because Yahweh’s presence is everywhere (cf. Psalm 139:7), and earlier in verse one apparently Yahweh has revealed to Jonah that His omnipresence is so great that even Nineveh’s wickedness is before Him.
    • Jonah is descending vertically from Yahweh
      1. Q: Is there any significant juxtaposition of “down” with “up” here?

A: The direction of down begins here with going to Joppa, but will appear again to emphasize the wrong direction of Jonah, as oppose to Yahweh being up (Kohlenberger, 31).

    1. So he went down to Joppa,
      • The first of many use of “down” in Jonah, in describing Jonah’s escape from Yahweh.
      • Joppa was the only natural harbor on Israel’s Mediterranean coast (Kohlenberger, 30).
      • So going to a port would naturally be heading towards a gradual downward path.
      • It is now modern day Jaffa (Price, 8).  Assuming that Jonah went there from his home town of Gath-hepher, which is fifteen miles west of the Sea of Galilee and today an Arab town called Meshed (Limburg, 38-39), it would have been a distance of 28 miles according to Google maps.
      • Whereas if Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh he would have traveled a northeast direction, by heading to Joppa, Jonah was heading south west direction—exactly 180 degrees opposite direction (Limburg, 42)!
      • Later in history, it would be part of Gentile territory and where Peter would be sent on a missions to the Gentiles in Acts 10:9-23.
    2. found a ship which was going to Tarshish,
      • The verb here does not have the idea of finding something purposely, but more of the idea of stumble upon (Price, 8).
      • Thus, it conveys the idea that perhaps Jonah thought it was by chance, and he was going to outrun God.
      • Ships heading towards Tarshish must have been large according to the standards of their days, for they were “Ocean going” vessels (Price, 9).
      • According to Isaiah 2:16, ships of Trashish were beautiful and Isaiah 23:14 indicates that these ships were strong.
    3. which was going to Tarshish,”—conveyed a future action that was going to soon take place (Price, 9).
    4. and went down into it
      • The second of many use of “down” in Jonah, in describing Jonah’s escape from Yahweh.
      • The NASB and KJV does a better job translating it literally as “going down” rather than Jonah just getting onboard (Price, 9).
    5. Why?  “and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
      • An important point since this phrase is repeated again.
      • It shows why he was going “down.”
    • Q: None of the verbs show God has any, so have can you show God’s providence from this verse?
      • A: SEE CHIASM POWERPOINT, which focuses on Tarshish.
      • A: It is setting us to wonder, whether or not Jonah was going to make to Tarshish.

o       Practice:

    • Sometimes in life, it seems like you are getting away from God.  But if you are His, He is allowing things to happen, to set things up for Him to get you back.

 

 

CONCLUSION

  • TO THE GOSPEL: I said a lot about if you are God’s child, you would not fall away.  If you know you are not God’s child, what you need to do is know Jesus.
  • What will God do with a runaway child of His?  What will happen to Nineveh?  Stay tune for next week!

 

NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 2

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Note: We kick off our Saturday Series on Jonah!  But before I go verse by verse in my studies, I typically like beginning any study of a Book of the Bible with what they call Introductory discussion (Purpose of the Book, authorship, date, themes, general observation of the Book as a whole).   These are my rough notes.

 

Introductory question: When I say “Jonah” what do you guys think about?

Establish the need: What is and why cover the Book of Jonah?

Purpose of covering Jonah: See that even though Jonah is a small book in the Bible, it covers important themes for us living out our Christian lives today.

1.)    Jonah is a small book

  1. Part of the Minor prophets in the Old Testament.
  2. Minor prophets were often called “The Twelve”
  3. “The Twelve” was so small that it usually fit in one scroll.
  4. Four short chapters.
  5. The book is divided into forty eight sentences, 688 words.
  6. Make up only one percent of the whole Bible.

2.)    Purpose of the book of Jonah: God’s mercy upon us, and upon others, so that we can live a life out telling others about God.

  1. Other smaller themes: God is Sovereign.
  2. Other smaller themes: God is not only about the Jews—even in the Old Testament
  3. Other smaller themes: God as Savior.

 

DATE

2 Kings 14:27 is the key to knowing the time of this book.

It is embedded in 2 Kings 14:23-27,

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25  He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke [i]through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Historical note: God’s people were split now into two kingdom, the northern kingdom of Israel and southern king of Judah.

During this time the reign was of Jeroboam II of Israel, who reigned from 793 to 753 B.C. (Kohlenberger, 16).

Jeroboam II was militarily stronger than some of the previous kings according to verse 25.

Assyria was just a rising world power and Nineveh was a great world city (Limburg, 22).

 

Flow of the Book

Seven scenes

  1. Called and runaway (1:1-3)
  2. Ship at sea (1:4-16)
  3. Inside the great fish (1:17-2:10)
  4. Jonah given assignment once more (3:1-3a)
  5. Jonah at Nineveh (3:3b-10)
  6. Jonah’s prayer in Nineveh (4:1-3)
  7. Jonah’s conversation with God outside the city (4:4-11)

 

Assorted notes and observation

Inter-Textuality

Exodus 34:6-7 as the foundation for Jonah and Nahum (Kohlenberger, 12).

Jonah 4:2 mentions about God as compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, filled with love…we expect it of God towards the Jews but here it’s for Gentiles!

NT reference to Jonah in Matthew 12:39-41, 16:4, Luke 11:29-32 and OT reference in 2 Kings 14:25.

Only prophetic book that is primarily a story of a prophet (Limburg, 21).  The mention of God’s actual word is short (3:4b) and there is a prayer that makes the bulk of Jonah 3, but the rest is about the prophet’s story (Limburg, 21).

Only prophet to have gone to a foreign land and preach to them (Limburg, 22).

Use of questions is profound in Jonah: 14 of them, and often the way of bringing Jonah to the scene by means of questions in Jonah 1:6, 8, 11; 4:4, 9, 11 (Limburg, 25).

First part of the book, all questions (seven of them) are directed towards Jonah.

Second part is Jonah to God (Jonah 2:4)

Then rhetorical question in Jonah 3:9

Jonah’s angry question towards God (Jonah 4:2)

Yahweh’s three questions back in Jonah 4:4, 9, 11.

 Lots of dialogues

 

UP AND DOWN

UP: Jonah commanded to: “Arise” (v.3a)          Same verb as below.

UP: Jonah: “Rose up” (v.3a)     Same verb as above.

            Down: Jonah “went down to Joppa” (v.3b)

            Down: Jonah “went down into” the hold of the ship (v.3b)

Down: The LORD hurl a big wind (v.4)

Down: Sailors hurl cargoes into the sea (v.5)

            Down: Jonah slept down in the hold of the ship (v.5)

Down: Jonah suggest they hurl him into the sea (v.12)

Down: They do hurl Jonah into the sea (v.15)

 

Repetition

–         Root “gdl” for “big” is seen 14 times with city (1:2), wind, storm (1:4), fear (1:10), storm (1:12), fear (1:16), fish (1:17), city (3:2), city (3:3), biggest (3:5), king’s “big ones” (3:7), anger (4:1), gladness (4:6), city (4:11).

–         Hurl, by the Lord of a big wind (1:4), sailors hurl cargoes into the sea (1:5), Jonah suggest they hurl him into the sea (1:12), they do hurl him (1:15).

–         “Go down” to Joppa (1:3), down into the ship (1:3), into the hold (1:5), down to the bottom of mountains (2:6).

 

Amazing increase of details to dramatize the storm in chapters 1 (1:4, 11, 13).

When wind calmed down in 1:16, details get shorter and shorter in the following three clauses (Limburg, 27).

 

Personification

Ship “thought” about breaking (1:4)

Sea raging (1:15)

 

Extremes

Sea and dry land (1:9)

Day and night (1:17)

Greatest/least (3:5)

Humans/animals (3:7-8)

Persons/animals (4:11).

 

Irony

Jonah is a prophet, but in the beginning is being asked more questions of him than he is preaching (Limburg, 25).

 

Mirror

–         Yahweh sends a wet wind upon the sea (1:4), then sends a warm wind against Jonah (4:8).

–         Uses at first a big fish (1:17) but also a tiny worm to teach a lesion (4:6-7).

 

Next: Exposition of Jonah Part 1

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