~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Jonah 1:1-4-11 ~ Revelation 5:1-14
Psalm 133:1-3 ~ Proverbs 29:26-27
Old Testament - Today we start and finish the book of Jonah! There is so much information to consider in this short 4 chapter book. I definitely encourage you to do some further study on this book in a Commentary or online. Or - at the very least, rent the Veggie Tales movie about Jonah... :) I have to confess - I did see the Veggie Tales Jonah movie when it came out in the theaters with my friends & their kids - and as I started to read today, I did very briefly envision Jonah as the asparagus or whatever type of green vegetable he was in that movie... :) It is a fun movie for kids of all ages! Okay, I digress...
Date: Eighth century B.C.
Content: Jonah was a prophet who was born in Israel (see 2 Kings 14:25) and called by God to preach repentance to Assyria (the capital city was Nineveh) – the nation that was shortly going to destroy Israel in 722 B.C. On receiving the call, Jonah’s nationalistic spirit would not allow him to offer salvation to the pagans, so he attempted to flee from God by ship. He was thrown overboard, swallowed by a great fish, disgorged on the shore, and finally obeyed God’s command by going to Nineveh to preach. His success there angered him, however, and God taught him an object lesson by means of a plant. Jonah’s experience in the fish is used in the New Testament (see Matthew 12:38-41) as an example of Jesus’ burial and resurrection.
Theme: The basic theme of Jonah is found in 4:11, where God declares his love for all men, whether Israelites or not. Jonah was unable to love the Assyrians properly, but God desired nothing for them but their good and their salvation, and he sent a prophet to offer repentance unto life. The book also shows the power of God and his control over the forces of nature. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 17) A wonderful commentary on the book of Jonah by Hampton Keathley IV is at this link. Here is a quote from this link: “Jonah is different than the other prophets because it is not full of prophecies by the prophet, it is instead, about the life of the prophet. Little attention is given to what he actually said.”
Jonah is called by God to prophesy to the city of Nineveh - which was not part of Israel or Judah - but was a "Gentile" city to the east. If you are wondering why Jonah got so grouchy with God's command - this is why. Jonah did not think he should be prophesying to Gentile nations - because, as we read later in the book, Jonah knows that God is a compassionate God who will show mercy on Nineveh. Last thing to point out before we check out some verses. There is some dispute over whether Jonah is a real history when it comes to him being in the belly of a whale for 3 days. I guess this comes down to the basic question of whether you believe in miracles or not? If you do believe in miracles, then it is of course possible that Jonah lived in the belly of the whale for 3 days. I believe in miracles... As some contemporary song says, I'm a miracle myself...
Check out what Jesus had to say about Jonah's history of being in the belly of the whale in Matthew chapter 12 verse 40: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Here we see Jesus compares his 3 days of death, burial and resurrection to Jonah's 3 days in the belly of the whale... Do you believe in miracles?
Jonah chapter 1 verse 3 stood out to me in today's reading: "But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the LORD." How often in our own lives are we like Jonah? Do we sense God wanting us to do something? For others? And we run in the opposite direction of God's will? If we do this, might we bring storms upon our lives as Jonah did? Might we even bring storms upon other people's lives by disobeying God's will as Jonah did? Will we learn from Jonah?
Chapter 2 Verse 8 also stood out to me: "Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies." Do you believe that God wants to show us mercy all the time? But, it's possible that we sometimes literally turn our backs on God? Will we turn back toward God, and God only? And not turn away again? And receive his mercies? Please don't ever turn your back on God... Don't turn your back on all of God's mercies!
In Jonah chapter 4 verse 2 we read a verse that I have to confess made me chuckle when I first read it: "So he complained to the LORD about it: "Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people." I love it! Jonah complaining to God about how gracious He is! :) Is it possible that we do this in our own lives too? Do we complain to God about how good he is to others? Are we at times like Jonah or the Prodigal Son's brother, showing jealousy toward God's goodness and grace toward others? Shouldn't we instead rejoice in this, realizing that God shows this same unfailing love toward us too?
New Testament - Revelation 5 is another beautiful chapter looking at worship in heaven! And in this chapter we see the worship of Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb, who opens the scroll. It is interesting that Jesus is described first as the Lion of Judah in verse 5 and then as a Lamb in verse 6. This demonstrates both Jesus' authority and power (lion) and Jesus' submission to God's will (lamb).
Verse 9 is certainly powerful in today's readings: "And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Do you believe that Jesus' blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation? How do people accept this gift - this ransom? Are the stakes high enough that we should accept this ransom?
And verse 12 is powerful: "And they sang in a mighty chorus: "The Lamb is worthy--the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing." Do you believe that Jesus is worthy to receive power? And riches? And wisdom? And honor? And glory? And blessing? Will you give these things to Jesus in your life today?
To powerfully close out this New Testament post today, below is an image of Revelation Chapter 5 titled "The Opening of the Sealed Scroll" by the amazing artist Pat Marvenko Smith from www.revelationillustrated.com. Based on today's readings, please take a few moments to reflect on this image and what it means to you personally...
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Psalms - Psalm 133 is a great short Davidic Psalm about harmony! Verse 1 sets the pace of this psalm nicely: "How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live together in harmony!" Do you consistently seek harmony in your interactions with others? Do you pray for peace?
Proverbs - Proverbs 29 verse 26 teaches us today: "Many seek the ruler's favor, but justice comes from the LORD." This is a great reminder that though we may seek justice through worldly institutions and rulers, justice truly only comes from God. Below is the artist Raphael's "Justice" ceiling fresco from the year 1510:
Comments from you: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!