Jonah 1:1-4:11, Revelations 5:1-14, Psalms 133:1-3, Proverbs 29:26-27
Today is December 14th. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian, like I’ve been every day, every day as longs I can remember. And, I guess I’m just reminding myself every day, as if you hadn’t figured it out by now. Here’s the thing though, there’s new people, new friends every single day. So, I’m Brian. I’m introducing myself. It’s good to be here with you today and I’m excited for where we’re headed into the Scriptures today. We will read the entire book of Jonah today before moving into the New Testament book of Revelation.
So, let’s talk about Jonah because Jonah is one of the books of prophecy in the Scriptures, but it’s got a twist. Jonah was a man who lived around the eighth century BC. So, many centuries before the New Testament times. And he lived just north of Nazareth, which at the time, would’ve put them in the northern kingdom. Right? So, this is the time where the kingdoms have split. You’ve got the southern kingdom of Judah in the northern kingdom of Israel. And, so, he’s living in the northern kingdom during the reign of Jeroboam. And, although he was a prophet, his mission wasn’t to call Israel back to repentance or to remind them of their covenant or anything like that. It wasn’t to forecast the destruction of Israel’s enemies either. His mission is to leave his homeland, go into the land of Nineveh, people who were enemies of Israel enemies of God, and to call them to repentance. So, Jonah’s not happy about this, and his pride and fear of his fellow countrymen have them on a ship, sailing in the other direction, quickly. And, obviously, the story of Jonah and the whale is a famous story. Jonah ends up in the belly of a great fish. And after three days of repentance he’s then spit out on the shore alive. And, so, there’s obviously a foreshadowing here. And many see it as a foreshadowing of Christ in this story. And there are also obvious parallels in our own lives. When we allow fear and pride to lead us into disobedience, which is similar to the proverb we were talking about yesterday. Right? The fear of man is a snare, is a trap, but those who trust in the Lord will be protected. So, when we allow fear and pride, anxiety to lead us into disobedience, we find ourselves quickly on the run, but running away from God is a pretty difficult thing to do because He has decided not to surrender us, which is the story we have been reading all year long. God loves us enough to never stop pursuing us. And, although Jonah found himself in the belly of a great fish, it became his salvation. He would’ve drowned in the open sea. And, although the journey must have been unspeakably uncomfortable, God used the great fish to deliver him alive and well on the shore. And we may find that our journeys look similar. And it’s important to consider the fact that maybe God isn’t punishing us. Maybe we’re in a really uncomfortable situation because we’ve been running, but maybe what’s happening right now is that we’re being rescued. And, so, we begin. Jonah chapter 1 verse 1 through 4:11. And we’re reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week.
Okay. We read the entire book of Jonah and we need to talk about Jonah, just a little bit, since we have only this one day in the book of Jonah because it’s a story that’s meant to hit us on a number of levels and to cause us to examine our thoughts and words and deeds. So, when we are talking about Jonah at the beginning, before we read it, we gave a little bit of the backdrop, that Jonah is a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel, but he’s being sent to prophesy to his enemies. And Jonah knows God’s reputation as a merciful, compassionate God. So, we have Jonah’s personal struggle inside himself, he does not want to go to the people that he considers his enemies and see anything but God’s judgment descend upon Nineveh and destroy it. But he also knows how compassionate and long-suffering God can be and that he’s being sent to prophesy repentance to them. And what if they actually listen? Then God will be merciful. And he doesn’t want Nineveh to receive God’s mercy. He wants them to be destroyed because of their history. Nineveh was a very, very powerful, influential city. The prophet Nahum prophesies against the city of Nineveh. So, here is Jonah being sent there. He’s got to go on a 500 mile journey and he doesn’t want to do this, not only because of his own feelings, but what’s he going to tell everybody? Hey, my fellow prophets, hey, my fellow Israelites, I know I’ve been prophesying around here, but I’m going to head to Nineveh and deliver the word of the Lord to our enemies. Hopefully they don’t listen any better than we do, and that they receive judgment, but who knows. I mean, if Jonah goes to Nineveh and Nineveh repents and turns toward God, then how can he go home? So, instead he gets on a ship and he’s heading for Tarshish. So, he’s like going 2500 miles in the other direction, if he can succeed. He doesn’t want the reputation of being the prophet that went to Nineveh. And, so, he runs in the other direction, which gives us ample opportunity to look at how were running right now, and why, and what patterns this brings up, and how we’ve been running for so long. So, as the story goes, Jonah’s not successful in running from God. He finds himself in the stormy seas to drown and he’s swallowed up by a fish and you can only imagine…I mean…you can only imagine that experience because there aren’t very many fish we would sign up to be swallowed by to find out what this is really like. This cannot be anything but terrifying. And, so, Jonah is praying, as you would expect a person who’s been swallowed by a great fish to be doing, because Jonah realizes at some point, he’s not dead. He may have been in the belly of the fish thinking, okay, I’m dead, like, I don’t what…this is the afterlife. But, at some point, he begins to call out to God saying, like, in my distress You answered me, in the belly of death of Sheol You heard my voice. I know that everything is happening is happening because You had a mission and I didn’t listen. But if I return to the daylight, like, if I return to the land of living then I will. And that’s how it happens. Jonah is spit on dry land and one can only imagine what a person would look like after they’ve been in the belly of a great fish for three days. He probably looks similar to what Hollywood would depict as a zombie, come back from the dead. Like, he doesn’t look right, and the word probably begins to spread. And Jonah’s got to finish his journey and go to Nineveh, which is a very big city. And he walks in a day and he gets somewhere, you know, in the thick of the city, and gives the message and the people respond. And they respond in a way that Jonah, still, after all that he’s been through, still does not want to see. He does not want their repentance. He wants their destruction. And he’s obeyed God and he’s seeing God at work in the city of Nineveh, and he doesn’t want to see this. And he’s outside the city, kind of waiting to find out what the final verdict is - will God spare this city or will God destroy this city? And he’s just like, I knew this was going happen, like, I knew this is how it was going to go down. This is why I didn’t want to come here in the first place. And God asks him a simple question, a simple question that we should hear in our own head, a lot of times. ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ Because Jonah’s just sitting out there going, I want to die. It would be better for me…like…I can’t deal with Your mercy for these people. I knew you were going to do this. Just take my life. And God’s like…’is it right for you to be angry?’ Of course, then, you know, this plant comes and shelters him and then the plant goes away the next day. And he’s so mad, Jonah’s so mad, because it looks like Nineveh is going to be spared and his shade is gone. And God asks him, ‘is it right, Jonah, that you should be angry about the plant?’ And Jonah’s like, it’s absolutely right, I should be angry about the plant. I’m so mad I want to die. And it’s here that God speaks the final words in the book of Jonah on the lesson that we all need to pay attention to. God tells Jonah, you didn’t do anything to make the plant grown give you shade. I did that. You don’t have any right to be angry that it went away. You didn’t have anything to do with it in the first place. And as for these people in the city, they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t their right hand from their left. And basically, who are you to tell me who I should care about. You don’t have a voice in this judgment. You don’t have anything to do with it. You didn’t make this city. And this should give us pause because we judge all the time. And it finds its way into nearly every aspect of our lives. And as we do it, we can’t imagine that that God doesn’t feel the same way that we do. And then we run into brick walls, like the book of Jonah, realizing that were sitting in judgment of things that we don’t have anything to do with. Or walling ourselves off from people that we don’t agree with and with that we can’t imagine that God feels any different. We even do this inside the Christian faith, who understand things differently than we do. The book of Jonah is showing us in a very, very dramatic story what we do all the time in all kinds of ways in all kinds of contexts. And when we find ourselves going to these places, we need to remember God’s question. Is it right for you to be angry? Jonah thinks he has every right to be angry. His culture and his history are telling him to be angry. The problem is, he’s angry about what God is doing in a redemptive way. And as God points out, he has no right to be angry. He’s looking at the Ninevites through the lens of his culture, but God wants to give them a chance to repent. And they do for a while and they are spared. So, we have to wonder how many times we have judged something or been angry about something that, ultimately, God was in and doing. And this invites us to be a little bit more patient and a little bit more observant and a little less judgmental about things we don’t have anything to do with. Thank God that He is merciful and that He is long-suffering and that He is patient or we would all be toast. And if God wants to be merciful and long-suffering and patient in situations that we would rather that He just, you know, send fire from heaven and consume in judgment, then is it right for us to be angry, which is the ultimate question God poses to Jonah.
Father, we invite Your Holy Spirit into that because the truth is, if we could just step outside of ourselves and observe ourselves for a day, we would see they were judging a lot of things, wanting a lot of things that happen, so that they will happen in our favor. And it brings us to anger when it’s not like that. And so often we find ourselves in anger without even asking the question, are You in this, are You doing something that I cannot see. So, we invite Your Holy Spirit into that. We need You in those places within us. Come, Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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The Daily Audio Bible journals along with the pairing of the Black Wing pencils and the sharpener and all of the kits, the different bundles, are available. Perfect time to set up to journal your way through your life and through the Scriptures next year, but also a really, really wonderful gift idea as well. So, you can find those in the Daily Audio Bible shop, in the Lifestyle section. So, check that out.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
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Hello Daily Audio Bible. This is Rebecca from Michigan and I wanted to share something with you because I asked you to pray that I have a great Christmas. I got something new that just happened. Like, today is December 10th and I went to this pantry restaurant. They like serve a lot of breakfast and lunch. I had like a breakfast and this person went by me and said Merry Christmas and then the next thing you know, the waitress came to me and said, somebody paid for your breakfast, you’re free to go after you get done eating. So, I just want you to know, somebody paid for my breakfast today and I’m like, I’m already having a merry Christmas just because that guy said Merry Christmas. So, I thought I’d share that moment with you and let you know how things are going so far on my Christmas. It’s just awesome. God is so awesome, how He just reaches out His hand and does stuff for you. And I’m like…I mean…I’m working on being thankful and I’m been praying God will help me clean up my clutter, my life. You know, my spiritual life, my physical life. Everything about me, I just want God to renew, restore my life and make me a brand-new person in him. So, Daily Audio Bible. Thank you for praying for me. I love you. I hope you all have merry Christmas’s too. And I hope God blesses you guys too. Thank you.
Hello everybody. This is Pelham in Birmingham calling because I need some prayer. The owner of the food truck that I work on needs…or worked on…needs prayers. They just had his third child and they have major medical issues. And, so, he’s having to shut down the food truck that I work on. And, so, I don’t have a job any more and I have rent and bills and I can’t be unemployed and I’ve been… we’ve got a…it’s quite frightening here in Birmingham in the Morris household. So, please pray for the Morris’s and Hagen’s for their baby. For God to give us peace and joy, that we know that he has right in the palm of His hands and He’s got us right where He wants us, that He wants me to find a new job.