Bible Think Tank

This site is designed to help you interact with others about God's Word. I further some thoughts we developed during morning and evening gatherings at church. I have my NT translations from the original Greek to English. Also, I have book reviews and other current events.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Whale of a Story


This is the place to comment on "Jonah the Prophet", my sermon from Sunday, October 28, 2007.

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I probably took an unorthodox position on Jonah this past Sunday. Essentially, I called him a villain for a variety of reasons. While we could condemn him, we should probably observe that he was a type of all of his countrymen of that day. Countless prophets also illustrated the whole nation's insensitivity to their calling as God's representatives to the rest of the world. And while we could condemn Israel for not doing its job, I suppose we should also honestly observe that we as individuals and we as churches and we as the Church do the same thing. Not an outright "NO" to God's audible voice, but a subtle and lazy no to the Word of God when it says "you will be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and even to the uttermost parts of the earth. List the ministries of your church and ask what you do for insiders and outsiders.

The Miracle(s)...

Obvious is the miracle of survival within the fish. Jonah calls it a great fish. Jesus calls it a sea monster. Was it a whale? A shark? A dinosaur? A really big tuna? (Remember this was before the ages of high-tech fishing techniques and high populations. Fish would grow larger as they aged given the chance to grow old.) Yet, some Christians, perhaps many, doubt that this event literally occurred. They say something like it is a tale which illustrates the seriousness of the nation's desperate carelessness to God's directives. To be sure, the story of Jonah DOES do this, but I would say, it actually happened. It is enough that it is in God's Word, but to add weight to the claim, Jesus Himself compares His death and resurrection to the actual event of Jonah's time in the fish. I'm not gonna call names, but these people are wrong.

The bigger miracle is that Nineveh repented. We happen to believe that it is God who turns a sinner's heart to Him through the preaching of the Word. It is not the convincing arguments of the preacher. It is not the cleverness of the recipient. Salvation is a work of God from beginning to end. God was certainly busy in Nineveh the day (notice one-day) that Jonah preached. Now on this one-day business. Jonah 3:2 says that the city was large and it was a three day's walk. Meaning, to get into every neighborhood and deliver the message to everyone it would take three days. Compared to Philly, New York, LA, this is a rather small city, but in that day Nineveh was enormous. How long did Jonah stay in town? One day and then chapter four tells us that he left to await their annihilation. Said annihilation never occurred... because they did repent, just as Jonah knew that God would act. So either Jonah was a truly fast walker, or the people responded quicker than normal, or he did his job half-hearted. Knowing what we know of Jonah, I venture to say he did it in a half-hearted way.

Exam Time... Pencils Ready... Begin

So the test for you and I: to whom has God told you: "Go up and speak against so-and-so for their iniquity has come up before Me." What are you doing in keeping with this calling?

And your church? And then don't lament or gripe, but lead them in this!



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