December 14

Jonah 1:1–4:11

Jonah is not really a prophetic book about the future, it’s actually a book about a struggling prophet and our amazing God, who is abundant in lovingkindness and relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:2).

God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, called “great” because of its many inhabitants, and warn them for their wickedness. But Jonah refused to obey. He fled the presence of the LORD and sailed towards Tarshish (in the opposite direction), away from Assyria in attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD and God’s call upon his life.

Aren’t you grateful, however, that it is impossible to escape the presence of the LORD? We read in:

Psalm 139:7–10 (NKJV) “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

It wouldn’t matter where I was or how fast I ran (the wings of the morning – light speed, is 186,000 miles per second), I can’t escape the presence of God and His gracious guidance. Jonah would soon discover this.

As Jonah sailed, God went after him in an interesting fashion. God sent a storm so strong, that the experienced rugged sailors were afraid. They lightened the cargo, prayed to their gods, nothing changed, the storm only got worse. They finally cornered Jonah who spilled the beans. It was his fault, he had “fled from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:10). Jonah informed them that if they threw him into the sea the storm would cease. Initially they refused to do so, but eventually they did, and Jonah was right.

One good thing about all this is that the sailors were converted right there on the spot, they witnessed the stilling of the storm.

Jonah 1:15–16 (NKJV) “So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.”

It breaks our heart to see that Jonah was so down and depressed, that he wanted to die. Many people struggle in this way even to the point of suicidal thoughts. If that’s you or someone you know, I pray the account of Jonah would be used by God as a Word of encouragement. There’s still a great future for you, filled and flooded with good. Next thing you know God uses your story of struggle and imperfection to help others going through the same thing. Please friend whoever you are, don’t lose heart.

Throughout the narrative of Jonah we see the LORD engaged in nature – starting the storm, stilling the storm, even preparing a great fish to swallow Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Some people have a hard time believing that Jonah could actually be transported by a whale, but if Jesus believed and confirmed it, than that settles it (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32). Not only that, there have been accounts over the years of individuals in the mouths of whales, below is a link to one of the latest:

While in the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed and cried out to the LORD. Jonah had reached “rock-bottom.” You may have noticed the descent of Jonah. “He went DOWN to Joppa,” he went “DOWN to the lowest parts of the ship, and laid “DOWN,” he went “DOWN to the moorings of the mountains (Jonah 1:3, 5; 2:6). It’s as if he died and went down to Sheol but rose again. He  didn’t die, but he does become a typology of Christ. Jesus said in:

Matthew 12:40 (NKJV) “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2 is a deep expression of personal pain and struggle brought to God and therefore saved by Him. It really is true, “Whoever calls on the Name of the LORD, shall be saved.”

The fish vomited Jonah on dry land who this time goes where God sends him, and preaches the Word of warning, without any  “woo” whatsoever. It was simple and straight to the point, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” We’re not sure why the Assyrians responded the way they did, even reaching the echelon of the king, but they repented, in fasting and sackcloth. A decree went out from the king, who said among other things:

Jonah 3:8–9 (NKJV) “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

And that’s exactly what God did, he turned from His fierce anger.

This grace shown to such wicked people infuriated Jonah, it was his greatest fear, it was the reason he didn’t want to warn Assyria in the first place. Jonah set up a seat, hoping to see the fireworks fall on Nineveh, but there would be no show to show.

God loved the Assyrians – there were many of them who didn’t even know their right hand from their left (in reference to children, or people who didn’t know any better).

God also loved Jonah. God taught him, in preparing a plant for shade, preparing a worm who would eat the plant and take away the shade…this is the world we live in…so many ups and downs in life. Days of shade and comfort and days of heat and pain. May we be faithful to function in this broken world and never give up – just look up to this God who pursues us with a love we’ll never understand.

Revelation 5:1-14

Revelation 5 is one of the most glorious scenes in all of eternity – one day, as believers, we’ll be there.

Can you see the scroll there in the right hand of the Father? It represents the title deed to the earth. This title deed had been given to Adam but then forfeited to the devil at the fall of man. Satan offered it to Jesus for one act of worship (Luke 4:5-7) but of course, Jesus refused. Jesus did it the right way, the hard way, as a Kinsman Redeemer He bought the title deed back – with His own blood. Technically, Jesus owns the earth, but practically He has not yet taken complete possession of what belongs to Him…there’s still souls to save.

When John saw this whole scene unfold, it was clearly communicated to him that no one was worthy to unseal the scroll – or even look at it. He wept much. What a horrible feeling that is, that feeling of hopelessness. Imagine if the whole wide world, if all the people of all time who are represented in this scene, were lost and defeated by the Devil. John felt that feeling of forever failure – and he was emotionally devastated.

But then…one of the elders (maybe a church representative?) spoke to him, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

And then John saw Jesus.

It’s fascinating the way He is described – both location and description. He’s in the “midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders…”How can He be in the “midst” of the throne, unless He’s God? And how can He be in the midst of the elders unless He’s man? Keep in mind, the four living creatures most likely represent Jesus as He’s presented in the four Gospels.

Not only where He is, but how He’s looks, as “…a Lamb as though it had been slain.” Isaiah tells us that when Jesus died on the cross for us, He was marred more than any man – He was a bloody mess. This is why John described Jesus the way he did in Revelation 1:5, “…to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” This is why John the Baptist described Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. That was the price for the title-deed to the earth, to undo what Adam did, the second Adam laid down His life as the perfect and eternal sacrifice for all of our sins.

In the Bible, horns represent power, strength, and the authority to rule. Since 7 is the number of completion and perfection, Jesus has 7 horns. He did it, He prevailed!

Can you see Jesus taking the scroll from the right hand of the Father? It’s time to claim His land!

The rest of the chapter records the appropriate response – worship. We worship with our lips and we worship with our lives (Romans 12:1-2). He is worthy (this is the root of the word worship) for He has redeemed us (bought us back to God with His blood). If you’re a Christian, you’ll be there that day. This is us, after the rapture of the church, worshipping God for who He is, and what He’s done, and what He’s about to do.

Psalm 133:1-3

This Psalm speaks of the blessing of unity, and even the fact that it’s  “pleasant” for brethren to dwell together in unity. Pleasant is defined as, “Giving the sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.” When we’re not in it for ourselves, there’s no “I” in team, when we love one another, esteem others better than ourselves, when we know the flow of a family, the organization, or even a church, it’s an atmosphere of joy…it’s pleasant.

David describes this unity as poured out oil on Aaron the priest, and dew descending on Mount Hermon. Clearly these are indications of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, of blessings from above. 

May we all have that heart to be one, especially among the brethren (the church) (John 17:11, 21-22).

Proverbs 29:26-27

Proverbs 29:26 (NKJV) “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.”

The word favor can translate “face,” or “audience.” Not just some, but many seek the personal notice or audience of the man who supposedly makes the decisions, when in all reality, everything comes from God.

Wouldn’t it be better to seek God’s face? For justice comes from Him!

Proverbs 29:27 (NKJV) “An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.”

Abomination is a strong word, but it is disgusting to hear and see the things people do who defy God’s Word to the point of violating their conscience.

Men with men; women with women. Parents raising their boys as girls, or girls as boys. The murder of children within the warm of their mother’s womb. Murder all across the board, rape, incest, injustice, rewarding the lazy who don’t want to work. Don’t misunderstand we love the people, but ways that contradict the heart of our Creator are an abomination to us.

But then, if they’re honest, they’d admit, our ways of righteousness are an abomination to them.

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