A Call to Be Different (Isaiah 5-8)

Book of Isaiah

As we start today’s readings, we finish the description of fallen Judah. God gives His reason for their punishment through a song about His beloved vineyard. He tells of a vineyard that only produces bitter grapes, rather than sweet ones. In order to solve this problem, He says to them, “Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it. I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.” (5:5-6, NLT). God is telling His people that they must change and come back to Him; they are not the people He sent them out to be. These first few chapters (1-5) were set up to address Judah as it currently was.

Then Isaiah returns to the beginning of his ministry. He recounts God’s calling upon him to be a messenger to the people. We receive many accounts about the glory and majesty of God. Aside from Revelation, Isaiah 6 might just be my favorite. “He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings … Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.” (6:1-2, 4, NLT). After having his sins forgiven, Isaiah volunteers to be a messenger for God.

The first message Isaiah is sent to give is for King Ahaz. Ahaz was facing both the armies of Israel and Syria. God told him not to fear and to trust in Him, because He would not allow the opposing armies to win. God then offered to give Ahaz a sign for the promise He made to him. Ahaz refused to “test” God, so He chose a sign for him. “Look! the virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” (7:14, NLT). Isaiah then receives a call to act differently from other people.

This final call of Isaiah’s still rings true for us today. We are called to still live a different life from unbelievers. Let’s take a look at some of these points:

Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. (8:13, NLT)

Preserve the teaching of God; (8:16)

But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? (8:19)

People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. (8:20)

It doesn’t sound completely unlike the things we are told today. It just goes to show me that the things God wants from/for us never really changes. Unbelievers do not do any of these things, especially realize they are in the dark. God calls us to live a certain type of life, and to do certain things. This isn’t because God just decided this was the way to be. It is the best way to be. That’s what God wants for us, the best. There is another passage of scripture where we are called to be different.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all me will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35, NASB). Christ even acknowledged that we are to be different.  On the night of his betrayal, he gave a prayer to God saying, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:15-16, NASB).

We are called to be separate from the world. It should be obvious. People should know from the way that we are that we believe in the one true God, and that we believe in His Son and Holy Spirit. Our faith changes us. It’s not merely something we say, “Yeah, I’m a Christian” without even breaking a smile! God changed you through faith! You are not the same person you were before, but you now stand new. You cannot be a follower of Christ and expect things to remain the same. Christ was a game-changer. He changes our lives. We are called to be different, and that’s what we must be. Sure, you’ll be ridiculed. But what’s more important? Your friends not picking on you, or your Savior knowing you by your faith and love?

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 99-100

 

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The Call to Come Back (Isaiah 1-4)

Book of Isaiah

I had a request for a Bible study to do in May, but I think I will go ahead and start it today. We will be starting the book of Isaiah. However, this will be a little different from the ones we have done in the past. Since Isaiah is 66 chapters long, we cannot take it one chapter at a time. We will be doing at least 2-3 chapters per post, in hopes we can get it done in May. So let’s pray that God opens our hearts to hear the words He has for us through this book.

 

Isaiah’s ministry lasted through four different kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He spent his time teaching Judah the need to repent and turn back to God. He spoke about their faithlessness, and the coming judgment upon Judah. However, he also taught about a coming Messiah to save God’s people. So his messages of pain and destruction were also coupled with hope and salvation.

Isaiah opens his book by describing the rebellious nature of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. God says to these people, “Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care — but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them.” (1:3, NLT) He is letting the people know how far they have turned. They have even gone so far that their worship has become a ritual by rote, rather than a meaningful expression to God. But God still offers the people of Judah hope, “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.” (1:18-19, NLT). Isaiah then begins to bring on the terror to come on the day of judgment, to those who do not come back to God. Isaiah writes “When the Lord rises to shake the earth, his enemies will crawl into holes in the ground. They will hide in caves in the rocks from the terror of the Lord and the glory of his majesty. On that day of judgment they will abandon the gold and silver idols they made for themselves to worship. They will leave their gods to the rodents and bats,” (2:19-20, NLT). The Lord than promises to make the people humble and realize their need for Him by saying, “[I] will take away from Jerusalem and Judah everything they depend on: every bit of bread and every drop of water,” (3:1-2, NLT). But God does promise a restoration for the people who survive. He promises to bring Israel back as a great people, with Him as their comfort and shelter (Isaiah 4).

I think if we all set and think about it, the warnings found in these opening chapters not only apply to the world we live in now, but to some degree every society since Creation. We have all felt that the world is “going to hell in a hand basket” at one point or another. I say this because I don’t want anyone thinking, “Oh no! Our time sounds exactly like this!!!!!” While the promise and threat are very real, we live in a time where God has already given us our salvation. We simply need to accept it as our own. There will always be unbelievers driving the world in a direction contrary to the way Christ teaches us to be. They are even some believers that get it wrong (including me, I definitely am not the fore-most expert on the Will of God). But so long as we are not reading Scripture and praying, we are not following either. We know a few lines, and we think that is all we need. Honestly, that’s how we have some really bad teaching out there.

To turn this and make it more personal, have you had a time when you have not sought God’s will for your life. Let’s be honest, I don’t think many of us are in that practice. I think most people (who are in the practice of prayer) are more of the mind “I’ll make the decision then ask God to bless it later.” The truth is that it works the opposite way of that. If we want to do our best, and make sure our life is in line with God’s will, we consult Him first then make the decision. Often times, I’ve found, He takes forever to get back with me. But I think it is to help us realize what we are about to do. In these open chapters of Isaiah, the people of Judah stopped consulting God. They did whatever they pleased. That can become us when we have the “do now, bless later” approach to running our lives. God promises us, “For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT). I’d much rather choose a path that I can trust, and leads to good, than to forge my own path and lead myself into destruction.

So we lift up our eyes to Heaven and says these words that the psalmist wrote, “I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV).

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 97-98

Which Way Will You Choose? (Judges 21)

Right-Career

As we finish up the book of Judges, we see that Israel really hasn’t changed during their war on the tribe of Benjamin. The book ends with the phrase that has been used a few times in the last chapters, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, NLT). The people of Israel felt bad that they wiped out a tribe of Israel, so they sought to get wives for the survivors of Benjamin. They were trapped by an oath they had made that none of their daughters would marry Benjamites. So they looked for people who had not joined in the war and made the oath with them. The area of Jibesh-gilead had sent no one to the war, so (based on another oath) the people of Israel went to Jibesh-gilead and killed all of the people except for the women virgins. These women were to be given to Benjamin as wives. However there were not enough women for the surviving men. So Israel instructed Benjamin to wait in the vineyards near Shiloh and take the daughters that came out to dance at the festival.

We end the book of Judges with a differing opinion of what is right. God commanded the evil be eradicated from the land of Israel. So He commanded that Benjamin be destroyed. After their success, the people felt bad that an entire tribe of Israel had been destroyed. So they sought to make it better. The people’s opinion of what was right is that Benjamin must survive their destruction. They felt terrible for Benjamin’s situation, but sometimes that’s the consequence of disobeying God’s Laws.

So here we are left with a question that I feel flow throughout all of Judges. Is it better to trust and follow God, or our own desires?

This question has plagued humanity ever since it’s creation. We read in the beginning, that there was a tree God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from. “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Genesis 3:6a, NLT). They both chose to follow their own desires, and not what God had planned for them. Ever since that day, we have all been faced with the question of who knows best for our lives.

As I was saying yesterday, the cost to follow God is large. It’s so big that many of us don’t want to pay it, and we don’t want a gospel message that asks something from us. We would rather keep Jesus at arms length, and not allow him to get close. But Jesus tells us, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:25, NLT). Right there Jesus lays it out for us what it takes to be a follower of God. We must turn away from the things that we desire, and focus on the things God desires. We must die to ourselves and our sin. Then we must follow Jesus Christ.

So it comes down to a simple point. We can either choose to follow a loving God that brings order to chaos, or we can trust our sinful desires that do nothing but create chaos. Which would you chose?

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 89

The Cost of Following (Judges 20)

followingjesus

In today’s chapter we read about the aftermath of the previous chapter. After the death of his concubine, the Levite chapped her body into 12 pieces and sent them throughout the land of Israel as a call to arms. The people of Israel came together to find out what had happened in the city of Gibeah. The Levite told them, and they all decided to go to war with the tribe of Benjamin for what had happened in Gibeah. Judah was chosen to lead the armies of Israel. After 2 attempts (with significant loss), they made one final attempt to overcome the Benjamites. They succeeded and destroyed the entire city to Gibeah.

When we set out to do the things God requires of us, is it hard or easy? Does it cost us little or a lot? The people of Israel had a wake-up call, and realized the great evil that had happened in their land. They knew, for the Law of God, that the evil had to be purged from the land. But when calls  upon us to do something, it is seldom an easy thing. Sometimes we even fail.

I believe that when we given an opportunity to do God’s work, He can test our resolve. He will sometimes make us fail to make sure we are really committed. The Israelite’s knew what they had to do, and God wanted them to do it, yet they still failed twice before succeeding. God wanted to make sure that they were doing this for the right reasons, and that they were committed to uphold His Law.

God’s work also makes us give up lots. A rich man came to Jesus and asked how he could get eternal life. Jesus told him two things. First he was to keep the commandment. Then he said, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Luke 18:22, NASB). Jesus asked this man to give up everything. Each time a disciple was called to follow, he had to leave his family, job, and life behind in order to follow Jesus. This just says to me that we must be prepared to give up everything for God’s work.

If you are feeling called to do something, I encourage you to persist through your failures. Failures don’t mean you’re wrong. The phrase “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called” comes to mind. That qualification process, is a learning process, and sometimes we fail. The cost of following can feel like a failure as well. Giving up/losing everything feels so wrong in our cultures that teaches “more, more, more”. But if it is truly the call of God working in you, it will work out for good. I encourage all followers to keep working, and trust in God. He’s helping us to become more like Him, which is completely different from the people we were before.

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 88

God’s Ways or My Ways (Judges 19)

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In today’s chapter we really see how low the morality of Israel became without a Judge or a king. We know that Israel had gotten bad in the past, but we weren’t shown exactly how much. Here we meet another Levite that left his home to find a new place to live and landed in the hill country of Ephraim. This man had taken a woman to be his concubine. She was unfaithful to him and ran away to her father’s house in Judah. After four months had passed, the Levite traveled to get his concubine back. He stayed in his father-in-law’s house for three days, and decided to leave on the fourth. He was convinced to stay another day. So on the fifth day he finally left. When night was approaching, the Levite’s servant suggested staying in Jerusalem until morning. The Levite said no, because Jerusalem was not an Israelite city; so they continued on to Gibeah (which was an Israelite city). They took refuge with an elder man, who was also from the region of Ephraim. Then the story turns into one that reads like the story of Lot and his family during the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-29). The  men of Gibeah came to the man’s house and demanded that he give them the Levite so they could have sexual relations with him. The man refused, but offered his own daughter and the Levite’s concubine. The men refused them and insisted on the Levite. The Levite then forced his concubine out into the crowd, and they took her and abused her throughout the rest of the night. In the morning she was released, but when she reached the house, she died.

The last two chapters start with the same phrase, “Now in those days Israel had no king.” (18:1, 19:1, NLT). This phrase can be taken in two different ways. At first, you can take it at face value. When it says “Israel had no king” it could literally mean there was no king, no central governing body to rule over the people. The second way you can take it is that Israel did not follow any sort of king. If you remember from a few chapters ago, Gideon told the Israelites, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!” (Judges 8:22, NLT). This would mean that the Israelites were not even listening or obeying God.

As terrible and tragic as this chapter is, I think it paints a very good picture of what our lives can be like without God. When we remain in sin, we run our lives into the mud. We ruin them because we are looking out for ourselves, with little or no care for the cost. But Jesus changes this for us. He gives us the opportunity to be reconnected with God, and learn to live good, godly lives.

We read in John’s letters, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-10, NASB). Since we know God, we know how to love, and Jesus calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:23, NASB). This love that we share will not let us step on or hurt others to keep us in a better place. Rather it forces us to humble ourselves beneath all others in order to serve them, and build them up into a better place.

So I ask you a simple question. Are we more likely to act like the men of Gibeah and serve our own wants and desires, or do we put ourselves aside in order to help others? We all know what the right answer is, but try to be honest about it. I know that there are times the mantra “Gotta look out for #1” pops into my thoughts. It’s also the way the world teaches us to be. But this is a time where we must question, do we do what the world teaches us, or Christ?

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 84-87

True or Idol Worship (Judges 18)

Worship1

Today we read about the tribe of Dan, traveling to claim their land allotted to them by God in the land of Israel. The send out five scouts, who come to Micah’s house. The consult the Levite serving as Micah’s priest about their mission, to see if it will be successful. After the priest gives his blessing, the scouts head out to survey the land. When they return home, they tell their fellow Danites about the peaceful people inhabiting their land. They then took 600 men ready for war, and traveled to their allotment, but first stopped at Micah’s house. They took all of Micah’s idols, and convinced the Levite to come with them and serve as priest for the tribe of Dan. Once they had taken over the land, they installed Jonathan (the Levite) as their priest, and placed Micah’s idols as their idols in their temple.

Idol worship brings many problems, the biggest is that it takes our praise away from the only god that deserves it. But idol worship has a common theme, no matter what you are idolizing. When the Danites took his idols, Micah came out saying, “You’ve taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left.” (18:24, NLT). Did you catch what he said? “…the gods I have made…” That’s what sets idol worship apart from true worship. In true worship, we give glory and praise to something we have created; whether it be money, power, false gods, etc. But true worship give glory and praise to the one that was not created, but rather is the Creator. These men in Dan, and even Micah, did not understand how idol worship was wrong or even offensive.

During the season of Lent, we have a practice where we give up something as a fast to become closer to God. I know I’m a little late in suggesting something like this, but take some time in prayer to figure out what is higher in your heart than God. It can get rough. Sometimes it can be something that you wouldn’t think would be a problem. For instance, there are times that my family or my ministry gets a higher place than God. This should not be the case. Jesus said to a crowd of people, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison — your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25, NLT). Jesus wants us to place him above everyone else in our lives, so that nothing can hold us back from Him.

So figure out what is distracting you from glorifying God above everything else. Try to give it up for Lent, or learn to give it an inferior place in your heart.

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 79-83

Are You Living a Lie? (Judges 17)

Idol-Worship1

In today’s chapter, we meet a man named Micah. Micah had stolen some money from his mother. When he returned the money, she made some of it into a idol of him. Micah then made a shrine for the idol and set it up in his house. One day a Levite from Bethelehem came to Micah’s house looking for a place to stay. Micah offered the man a salary to remain in his house and be his priest. Micah finishes by saying, “I know the Lord will bless me now because I have a Levite serving as my priest.” (17:13, NLT).

Have you ever thought you were doing the right thing, but in actuality, it was completely wrong? That’s the story we find here in the 17th chapter of Judges. But it is just as applicable to our lives today. We often spend time trying to help others, when all we are really doing is hurting. Micah breaks so many of God’s laws, and brings it to the climax of hiring a priest who is breaking just as many laws. At the end he believes God will bless him because he knows that only Levites can serve as priests. It’s like someone who says I’m super rich (because of fancy houses, cars, clothes, etc) but it reality is deeply in debt. Micah is living a lie, even to himself.

Are we doing this? At my church we are reading the book not a fan. by Kyle Idleman. In this book, he asks us to take a serious look at our relationship with Christ. He wants us to realize that we want to be followers, not fans. So I ask this question of all of us today, are we really with Christ or do we think we are? Do we think we are Christians because we go to church on Sunday, be involved in ministries, or listen exclusively to Christian music? Do we think that reading the Bible for a few minutes every-so-often is helping us become deep followers of Christ? Are we living the lives God has called us to through His Son, or are we living a life that just looks like one?

These are the questions that we must ask daily to remind ourselves of what it means to be a Christian. Simply because we have a label, or repeated a prayer, or got some water splashed on us does not mean that we are following. Don’t be fooled like Micah. Know that you are doing the right thing and living a life according to God’s Will.

“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.” –Proverbs 16:2, NLT

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 78

The Testing of Israel (Judges 2)

PrayingHands2a

As we discussed yesterday, the author of the Book of Judges uses the first chapter to set up the historical context of the rest of the book. In the second chapter, the author does something similar. Rather than discuss historical events, he begins to set up the cycle that is about to take place within the book.

After having failed to completely take over the Promised Land, God spoke to the Israelites and said, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. for your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.” (2:1-3, NLT). God recognized that His people had made agreements with the people who were already living in the Promised Land. They allowed the people to continue on living in their pagan ways, and God knew this would be a stumbling block for His people.

Aren’t we stuck in this same position today? The Bible is fairly clear on how we are to live our lives, but there is a world around us that tempt us to believe differently. The world tells us to become super rich, while the Bible tells us to use all that we have and give it away to the glory of God. The world tells us that we must look out for #1, while the Bible tells us to love and care for each other. The world tells us that we cannot tell someone they are wrong, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The list goes on and on.

I believe that we live in a world that is full of other “gods” tempting us to give our lives to their pursuit. God wants us to follow Him and no one else, it’s even the first Commandment! So we must choose, daily, to follow God and not the ways of the world. It’s tough. The world makes a very convincing argument. Even to the point that some strong Christians I know begin to question their faith because it stands contrary to the Bible. It get scary to tell people they are in the wrong when, without the Bible, you might take the same stance.

I will close this post with a psalm that is well-known and is read often. But it speaks well of following God because He knows what is best for us. He will care for us. We don’t know what is best, but He does.

“The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
–Psalm 23, NASB

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Psalms to Pray: Psalm 39-41

Are You a Fan or Follower?

followingjesus

This morning, I was reading in Matthew’s gospel and came across a story that just floored me. If you look at Matthew 9:10-13, Jesus says something remarkable that I don’t think many Christians think about anymore. Jesus is sitting with tax collectors and sinners for dinner, when Pharisees and Sadducees saw what was going on and said to themselves “What is this man doing eating with those people?” (Matthew 9:11, paraphrase). Jesus comes back at them and quotes Hosea to pass on a message that I believe we all need to hear. “I’m after mercy; not religion.'” (Matthew 9:13, MSG).

Do you hear that friends. He’s more concerned that you live and walk a Christian lifestyle, over the fact that you go to church and say you are a Christian! Just let that sink in before we move on.

 

 

 

We all know somebody that fits into this latter category of Christian (the ones who say it but don’t do it). It’s unfortunate that they don’t comprehend how this is bad. Being a true follower of Christ changes you. There’s a reason Paul wrote, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB). I’m not the same man I was before I met Jesus, and neither are you (if you have truly met him).

This group thinks that it is sufficient to simply claim Christ. While this is true (if we mean it, i.e. Luke 23:39-43) it can’t be all there is. James writes in his letter, “What us is it, my bretheren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and on of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what us is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17, NASB).

So clearly it is important to do more than simply profess the faith. While it is most important to take Jesus as your Lord and Savior, truly meeting him changes you into a new creation. I encourage you to spend some time in worship and prayer today. Thank Him for all He has done, and ask for Him to meet you where you are. There’s a song that has a great lyric for this. The chorus of the song goes “If there were a thousand steps between you and God/And you can see no way across the great divide/ Just take one step towards his loving arms/ And He’ll take nine hundred and ninety-nine”. So take that one step, and he will come running to you!

PS I recently read a great book that talks about this very subject. If you are interested in reading it, you can get it here.

Fleeing from God (Jonah 1)

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I thought it would be a good time to start a new book study. We are going to start with the book of Jonah. I know, I know. We’ve all heard this story either from Children’s Church, or from our kids after Children’s Church (or, my personal favorite, Veggietales). But we’re going to  take a look at the actual Scripture in this story.

Jonah’s story starts with a message from God and a choice. It’s something we’ve all experienced, especially those who are in ministry. God called Jonah to travel to the city of Nineveh and tell them about God, in order for them to turn away from their sin. This call to travel would have had Jonah leave his hometown, Gath Hepher, and traveled east in order to get to Nineveh. If we look at the book of Nahum, we see that the sin present within Nineveh was plotting evil against God, cruelty and plundering in war, prostitution, witchcraft, and commercial exploitation. Which is probably why we see it said, “But Johan ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” (Jonah 1:3 NIV). 

After having fled, the ship got caught in a major storm. The sailors decided to find out who was responsible for their situation, and the lots fell on Jonah (1:7). So Jonah told them to toss him from the ship, and after the did everything they could, they did throw him off. And when they do, he is swallowed up by a giant fish!

But the choice is what intrigues me today. Jonah shows us that he could chose not to obey God, despite being a prophet. He was called to go to one of the most hostile places imaginable for a prophet of God. It would be the same as God calling us to go preach in a place like North Korea, where being a Christian is a crime punishable by death. I know that the theological point is that when God calls you to do something, you do it! But I think Jonah speaks to the common man. Even if we were well protected by both man and God, could you honestly say that you wouldn’t be afraid to go into such a place? I know I would. But God keeps after Jonah. He does everything to get his attention and show him the error of his ways. At the end of this chapter, Jonah is now in the most desperate place imaginable; inside a whale.

If you’ve ever felt like saying no to God, and you want to run away, I say that there is a great story in the Bible for that feeling. I look forward to reading the rest of this book with everyone. And learning more from this “children’s” story.

 

 

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