Who Was He and What Was His Vision
Christopher Columbus strived to live under religious motivations and convictions which are hated by modern day educators and writers, thus many have tried to label him as a villain. (Just take a look on YouTube, there is plenty) There are those who have adopted the modern educational practice of deconstructionism – the attacking of traditional Western heroes, values and institutions. For an accurate portrayal of Columbus and other early explores, you can read Dr. John Eidsmoe’s book, Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ. It is our hope at CrossRoads Messages that you will take time to enjoy Columbus Day by gaining understanding of the spiritual heart of Christopher Columbus.
Traditionally, Columbus Day is observed on the second Monday in October, commemorating the landing of Columbus in the “New World” (on a small island off Florida) on October 12, 1492. (Wall-builders.com/celebrate-Columbus-day; Wikipedia) Clearly, the Vikings had traveled to the North America continent, (Present-day Canada, possibly Baffin Island). Columbus is widely publicized as being the one to have discovered its’ (America’s) existence to the Europeans.
Columbus undertook his first voyage knowing the great dangers which laid ahead. Like most out reaches, he was told repeatedly of the impossibility of the endeavor he so longed to embark on. Many of those who wanted to discourage him were intellectual leaders. Christopher’s writings tell us the reason he wanted take a voyage beyond charted waters, “Our Lord opened to my understanding, I could sense His hand upon me, so it became clear to me that the voyage was feasible… All those who heard about my enterprise rejected it with laughter, scoffing at me… [Many] doubted that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that, the Holy Spirit, with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the Holy and Sacred Scriptures.. they inflame me with a sense of great urgency… No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior if it is right and if the purpose is purely for His Holy service… And I say that the sign which convinces me that our Lord is hastening the end of the world is the preaching of the Gospel recently in so many lands.” (Wall-builders.com/celebrate-Columbus-day)
Though many are claiming that Christopher Columbus was a monster, many paint a complete different picture. (Christian History; Sun Sentinel, Columbus Day: A Celebration of Character) Historian Samuel Eliot Morison over a have a century ago wrote, “This conviction that God destined him to be an instrument for spreading the faith was far more pressing than the desire to win glory, wealth and worldly honors.” Contemporary historian Carol Delaney noted, “Even the money Columbus sought was primarily dedicated to religious purpose.” (The Right Scoop, Why Did Christopher Columbus “Sail the Ocean Blue” in 1942? It’s Not What You Think!) Delaney points out, “many of Columbus writings indicate that Christopher strictly told the crew with him not to harm or disrespect the natives. When bad things were done to the natives, Columbus was quick to punish those under his command who committed unjust acts against the local population.” (The Right Scoop, Why Did Christopher Columbus “Sail the Ocean Blue” in 1942? It’s Not What You Think!)
The true way for us to observe Columbus Day, is to see it as a celebration of character, the life of Christopher Columbus. Therefore, seek out ways to take the Gospel out into the world, to those who do not know Christ.
Biblical Truths About A Father Worth Honoring
Introduction: Happy Fathers Day! Father’s day is a celebration honoring fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. The tradition was said to be started from a memorial service held for a large group of men who died in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907. It is currently celebrated in the United States annually on the third Sunday in June. (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)
According to the Fathers Day Council Facts, “The average number of gifts per dad on Fathers Day is 2.5, with a combined value of $70.00. (On the Father Front, Spring, 1993, p. 1 – Galaxie Software. 2002, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.) Jack Eppololito wrote, “Our granddaughter’s second grade class was asked to write about their personal heroes. Her father was flattered to find out that she had chosen him. ‘Why did you choose your dad?’ Jack asked. His granddaughter replied with, ‘Because I couldn’t spell Arnold Schwarzenegger.'” (Humor for Preaching & Teaching; Edward K. Rowell and Bonnie L. Steffen) William Franklin writes, “If he is wealthy and prominent, or if you stand in awe of him, call him ‘father.’ If he sits in short sleeves and suspenders at the ball game and picnic, call him ‘Pop.’ If, however, he makes [over] you when you are good, and does not let you pool the wool over his eyes when you are [bad], call him ‘Dad.'” (Peter S. Seymour, A Father’s Love, Hallmark Card; The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Swindoll – Page 204, Fatherhood)
While attending teachings out at the Norton Correctional Facilities, I was surprised to hear that very few of the inmates had good things to say about their physical fathers. Strange to a man you had a great dad, loving, supportive and a great example. I had a father, who in the later years of his life gave his heart to the Lord. It is easy to honor a father like that.
I would propose to you that honoring fathers dose not find it’s foundation in numerous family retreats, vacations, well written cards, nor gifts. As wonderful as these things are: The foundation of honoring fathers is laid down when fathers, mothers and children place their hearts and minds on pleasing Jesus Christ. Fathers understand their high call when they live in Biblical fellowship with God the Father and Jesus His Son. A man’s wife receives far more love when the husband Biblically understands that his wife is his partner in life, given to him by God and purchased by the blood of Christ. A man’s children are placed under the watchful eyes of the Lord, when they are Biblically prayed over through the whole council of God’s Word.
Just what are Biblical truths to honoring fathers? The need of the times we live in today, makes it imperative that we place in our hearts, minds and actions the guidance of God’s Word along with the illumination of the Holy Spirit on how to live out His precepts.
Fathers Worthy of Honor
The father worthy of honor, is the one who is able to submit himself to the whole council of God’s Word. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The writer of Ephesians moves our hearts to what is best for all, “concern for fellow men.” (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 354). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)The Bible tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) The Lord through the Book of 1 Peter says, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” (1 Peter:5:5)
“Submit” is actually an active verb, “Submitting” (ὑποτάσσω hupotássō) meaning to place under in an orderly fashion [of living]. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) It is to submit to directives of someone. (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 467). New York: United Bible Societies.) It is to bring under control, to put into subjection. (Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
Taking orders from the Lord is what the writer of the Book Ephesians has in mind here. We know that because the writer goes right into instruction for wives, giving exhortation on how to respond to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-25) How husbands are to love their wives and treat their children. (Ephesians 5:25-33; 6:4) How children are to react to their parents. (Ephesians 6:1-2)
Men often bring undo strife into their families by not being submissive to the counsel of God’s Word. Men not enjoying fellowship with the Lord are kind like the:
“Fellow who was on the roof top of a two story building putting up an antenna. He was trying to attach one of the guy wires. The wind was making it very difficult, as you would expect, the man fell. As he was sliding down the roof top, he was able to catch himself. It was one of those moments when you would call out to God. In a panic he screamed, ‘Is there anyone there who can help me?’ He heard a voice say, ‘Let go and I will catch you!’ The man clinging on with all his strength then asked, ‘Is there anyone else who can help me?’ (The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Swindoll, Submission, page 539)
Woman are more receptive to instructions from the Lord than men are. Most men do not attend church, because they to not want to deal with the area of Biblical submission to God’s Word.
Fathers Who Deserve Honor
Fathers who deserve honor are men who live a life that express a submissive heart to the Lord’s will for them. God’s Word give instructions for women who have such a man, one who is submissive to the Lord. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
“There is a greater equality between wives and husbands than between children and parents.” (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, pp. 354–355). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) Catch the truth, “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” The Bible says, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) There is an order here. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every true man of God, every true man of God is the head of the marriage relationship. Christ’s desire is to please the Father and achieve His Fathers perfect will for Him. He knows the Fathers plan and submitted even to the point of death on the cross. Thus, the wife is under the submission of the Lord and submits to God’s perfect will for her man.
Every preacher who quotes this passage of Scripture is as risk of causing undo tension in the congregation. It is seldom quoted and very poorly taught in the church today. This passages of Scripture is applicable to every circumstance in life, the text says, “in everything.”
In regard to today’s message and to catch the heartbeat of what the Lord wants us to grasp, we need to go back to the very beginning when woman was first created. All the way back to Genesis, “…But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of man, and He brought her to the man… For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:20-22,24)
Catch the phrase, for Adam no suitable helper was found. Helper (עֵזֶר ʿēzer) indicating a person who is a complementary helper.
“Nearly every great song has a gifted singer that has a back up singer who sings along in a way that compliments the lead vocalist. There are famous, wonderful lead vocalist who at different times sing back for other singers. There are back up singers who sing back up in the band, and when it is time for them to be the lead vocalist, other singers sing back up for them.”
The application for today’s message is this:
“Every wife who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s will for them, knows their husband’s gifting, talents and calling. They use their gifts, talents and calling to compliment their husbands. They may very well have their own work going on with the Lord as well. They know their husband’s weaknesses, fears, and conflicts, they help in a way that gives encouragement, strengthens, and envisions.
A Biblical submissive woman is not a woman who has been verbally or physically beaten down reflecting a ‘you to be quite woman.’ She is a woman who is seen supporting her man with a confidence that is noticed by all.
I think of Gloria Gaither, in her own right is an awesome writer and poet, but is seen as powerful back up for Bill Gaither as she helps him in his calling.
Men Who Love Their Wives
Father’s worth honoring have wives that are Biblically submissive and they are men who love their wives. The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) “The main threat against a man protecting his wife’s heart is his own sin.” (Father Hunger, Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families) “A man who takes a woman to the altar is going there to die to himself.” (Father Hunger, Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families) “There is no bound more sovereign in binding than… in the case of husband and wife. For one may constrain a servant by fear, though, he is not truly bound to his master; for he may readily run away. But the companion of your life, the mother of your children, the basis of all your joy, you ought to bind to yourself, not by fear and threats, but by love and attachment” [Chrysostom]. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 355). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) “Now the word Paul uses here for “love” is the Greek word agape—the strongest, most intimate, far-reaching, comprehensive, fulfilling term for love. (MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1981). The Fulfilled Family. Chicago: Moody Press.) “Husbands have the great privilege from God of building security, intimacy, identity, and spirituality in their homes—all through love. No other calling is as great, no other obedience so Christ-like. (Jeremiah, D. (2001). Home Improvement: Study guide (pp. 62–63). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
A husband who sacrificially loves his wife is intimately aware of her needs, her strengths, her goals and desires. He gets to know about her as much as possible. He offers her the same grace that God has given to him. He has no hobby that would take away needed time, finances and provision from his wife. As the Lord makes the way, he tries to make provision for her, in case he is called home. Husbands who have been seasoned by the Lord, know the value of their wives, they protect their time with her, knowing that amount and quality of time are key to a marriage that last until death do they part.
A man who loves is wife with a sacrificial love:
1.) Gives Her Consideration: He considers her feelings, before he takes on a project, adventure, or career change. I know of a man who was succeeding in his career. New projects were arising, great adventures were laid before him. He got out of the business, because continued success would require more time away from her, no involvement of her, nor any recognition of her value as his wife.
2.) Chivalry: Why is this allowed to die in marriage now days. TV sitcoms present married couples as irrespective, inattentive, and non-intimate. I like playing Columbo, the TV detective who appears incompetent, but catches every little thing. When I go to churches that present themselves as family promoting churches, I just set and watch how the leadership couples treat each other, listening to how they speak to each other.
According to Scripture (1 Corinthians 7:5) your wife is to feel like she is the most exciting woman you can be with. I love the song by Dan and Shay which has the lyrics, ‘I just want to show you off.’ Whenever you go out and wherever you go with your wife, she is to feel like you consider it a privilege and honor to be seen with her. Opening a door for her is to be as exciting as it was when the first time you went out together. She is to know that you would rather give her attention above anything else in this world.
3.) Communion: When people in public see you out alone, they should feel compelled to ask were your spouse is and is everything alright, because normally they see you together being involved and enjoying the same things in this life. Your and your wife are to have so much communication, that when you are thinking, she feels compelled to ask you about your thoughts and feels comfortable that she will receive a truthful answer. You are to have such a communion with your wife, that when you are not together at time you’re usually together, there is an awkwardness, loneliness, a longing, an aching inside. Communion is to be so sweet, that is like a favored desert, a pleasurable meal or a satisfying drink.
Children Obey Them
Fathers worthy of honor are husbands who love their wives like Christ loves the church, and his children are to have a desire to obey them. Ephesians 6:1-3 says, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”
“Obey” is a stronger expression compared to wives who are called to submit, which is the willing subjection, children are given a command here. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 356). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) The writer reminds children of the promise, the promise not being the motivation for obedience, but rather a incidental promise, because obedience to parents is God’s will for them. For no other reason than God said to! Deuteronomy 5:16 makes it so clear, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord commands you, so that it may go well with you.” Peter says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” Proverbs gives this exhortation, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teachings.”
It is elementary, if you want to see things go well for you with the Lord in trials, through temptations and success, children must learn the joy of obedience, if not for any reason, but because you were told to through God’s Word.
Although Mother’s Day has higher observance, Fathers Day is to be honored with the same zeal of heart. Fathers, be submissive to God’s will for you. Wives, understand that being submissive to your husbands is a great thing. Husbands love your wives. Children, obey your parents.
“The Christian father is really an instrument in God’s hand. The whole process of instruction and discipline must be that which God commands and which He administers, so that His authority should be brought into constant and immediate contact with the mind, heart, and conscience of children. The human father should never present himself as the ultimate authority to determine truth and duty. It is only by making God the teacher and ruler on whose authority everything is done that the goals of education can best be attained.” (Got Questions.org)
In this day were leadership means visibility, popularity, likeability and drive. It is good to heed to the words written by Albert Einstein, “Try not to be come a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
Dictionary dot com has this definition for Litmus Test, “a crucial and revealing test in which there is one factor.” Meghan McCain wrote, “The Democrats seem to have mastered inclusiveness – whereas Republicans, like a country club, seem to require a litmus test.” Inclusiveness means “including everything concerned.” God’s Word requires Christians to do a litmus test. The Bible says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).
One key truth to examining yourself is checking your love for God’s correction, direction and protection. Jesus, the person Christians proclaim to serve said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) The Bible says Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) “Word” (λόγος logos) meaning divine revelation and declaration. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament) If you love Jesus Christ and are surrendered to His Holy Spirit’s leading, there will be a hunger and thirst for the written Word so you may know God’s will for you. Christians who are hungry for God’s Word have more noble character than those who are not wanting or willing to do the hard work of study of God’s Word. (Acts 17:11) The Apostle Paul told Timothy “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteous [living].” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Kohl’s Kicking Camps have determined, the kicking specialist who goes the farthest in the place kicking field, are kickers who do the hard work of reading about and studying the place kicking game in football. Kohl’s Training Camps are seen by ESPN as being the best in finding place kicking specialist for college and the NFL. The individual who makes the time to search out and learn what he needs to know so he can do what is right – has noble character.
According to the Bible, Christians are called to be specialist in handling, teaching and living out the whole counsel of God’s Word. (2 Timothy 2:15) The Bible says the person who lives out the written Word of God will be blessed. (James 1:25) The fact is, a person’s love for the Lord grows as he or she reads the Bible. Christians, allow the Holy Spirit of Christ to bring illumination of the Bible and seek His enablement to live out what is revealed to them through the written Word.
To many churches today have become club houses, they gather together miss-appropriating the verse, “meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25) Their church gatherings have become social meetings, talking about themselves, their community events or political views. There is little desire to examine themselves to God’s Word, which says Christians are to “guard their [heart when they go the house of God]. [They] are to draw near to listen” (Ecclesiastes 5:1) to men or woman who possess the Christ appointed gifts for the unifying the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12) True Christians leaders possessing one of the five gifts from Jesus Christ speak spiritual “words” (ta rhemata ) for your spiritual health. The heart of true spiritual leaders reflect the prayer of the Apostle Paul which, “is your perfection [in God’s sight].” (2 Corinthians 13:9)
What is your litmus test to determining if your are a true Christian? Does it line up with the whole counsel of God’s Word?
A Question That Exposes Your Relationship With Christ
A vehicle owner who is inexperience dealing with vehicle tires can be talked into paying top price for tires, not realizing they have purchased a low grade tire. Many vehicle owners think, “Hey, a tire is a tire, right?” They purchase tires expecting to get high mileage and top performance. It is not long the ever changing condition of driving breaks down the tire treads, thus the vehicle owner finds him or herself back in the tire shop purchasing new tires or worse yet unexpectedly setting along the road with a flat tire. In their frustration, they cannot understand, it was ignorance about tires that put them were they are now. You see in purchasing tires – there are different treads, and stronger tire plies, such as four ply, six ply or eight ply and even ten ply tires. Asking a tire specialist is always the high road to take before you purchase tires.
Many believers in God find themselves walking in and out of church shops, if you will, frustrated, because they are inexperienced in the things of God. To them, “Hey, a church is a church, right? Religion is religion, right?” They simply lack what it takes to determine the difference between believing from a world’s view and true belief in the things of the Lord.
I would propose to you there are ten clear differences from someone who claims to be a believer in God and someone who is a Christian. Someone can claim to believe in something, yet never live in a way that indicates they believe what they say they believe in. I spent thirty-two plus years in the farrier trade, the horse shoeing business. I can tell you there are people who claim to love horses, but the do very little to learn about, take care of or make plans to be involved in true horsemanship. You and I can claim we want to do such and such, but when we do very little to learn about, nurture or participate in what we said we would like to do. The results are not living on the high road God wants us to travel on.
Just what are ten clear differences between someone who says they are a believer and someone who expresses true saving faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord? James, the half-brother of Jesus writes, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (James 2:18-20) The answers to James’ challenge begins with:
Worldly Believing vs. True Belief
There is a difference between someone who says they believe and someone who follows Jesus commands. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15) He also said, “If you keep My commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” There are two key words we must grasp here. 1.) True belief and 2.) Abide.
Believe (πιστεύω pisteúō): Meaning to have faith in, causing you to seek the Lord, have hope in – along with an expectation that God is able and will do as He says He will. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)
Abide (μένω ménō): Meaning to remain, dwell in or live in the life Christ lived before God, His father. Means you are in the same heart, mind and will as Jesus Christ. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)
Dictionary.com teaches us to believe is to have such a “confidence in something or someone it causes us to act purposely” Dictionary.com gives another definition: “to suppose or assume or understand.” The practical application is: Christians seek the Lord’s direction, they trust in His sustaining empowerment and they long to enjoy God’s pleasure as they abide in His will for them. Times Square Church felt led of the Lord to purchase a house for women who came out of the life style of prostitution. They wanted to not just tell women it was a sin, but make a practical way for them to come out, be provide for and have a hope for their future. Time Square Church sought the Lord for a way to provide a safe house for these woman and their children along with getting an education for them as well. There are people who understand there is a God, they assume that He is in some kind of control and suppose that someone will do something. However, they do not participate in God’s work nor walk in His will for them.
Life application: Are you a believer with a worldly view point or an obedient Christian like Jesus was to His Father?
Church Attendance vs. Christ-like Participation
Another difference from a believer and a Christian is church attendance verses Christ-like participation. The Bible says, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, I do not want you to be uniformed. …Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12) Believers in God may very well be in church services every Sunday. Obedient Christians will seek to know their Holy Spirit gifts, they will exercise those gifts through sacrificial love for the good of all they may come in contact with for the glory of God and Jesus Christ His Son. The preachers and teachers of Jesus day were perfect at church attendance. They were so reliable in church attendance, they missed the most important Christian service ever, the death of the Savior of the world on Mt. Calvary.
Life Application: Is our church attendance like that of the religious dead of Jesus’ time or are we exercising Holy Spirit gifts like, encouragement, giving, leading music, teaching God’s Word. The Bible teaches there are at least twenty-one gifts we are to be exercising. The Lord knows our hearts.
Your Response To God’s Word
Another difference from a believer with a worldly influence and a Christian is their heart attitude toward the written or spoken Word of God. When I became a Christian – I had my mother-in-law get me a Bible to read, Bonnie (my wife who passed away) put book markers on the pages so I could find the books of the Bible. I thought – I could look up the passages of Scripture the preacher was teaching on and read it during the church service. In my worldly view, I thought that was the way it is done right?
On October 19, 1987 I receive a hunger and thirst for God’s Word. I had never read anything from the Bible, nor heard any real teaching from it until after I became a Christian. Christians at the very least will have this heart attitude, the Bible is God’s Word and they will have some sort of a reverent respect for the written Word.
This is why: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) The “Word” (λόγος logos) meaning Divine revelation and declaration. Jesus encompassed all who God is and is the revelation of how we are live for God. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus and to us as well, “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that [we] can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9)
Practical Application: The Word of God does not need some illustration or some kind of flamboyant story. The living Word stands on it own, Christians who grasp the life of Christ has the same heart of Psalmist who wrote these powerful truths, “Blessed are those who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His statues and seek Him with all their heart.” (Psalm 119:1-2) How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word. I will seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to You, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statues as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your Word” (Psalm 119: 9-16)
Approach To Prayer
Another difference between a believer with worldly influence and a Christian is their attitude in approaching God in prayer. The Bible records the life of a man named Cornelius, he was a “devout man who… prayed continually to God.” (Acts 10:2) Christians are called to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive very thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ( 2 Corinthians 10:4-5) Corrie Ten Boom asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” The most disciplined people are Christians who stay focused on surrendered prayer. They pray like Christ did, “Not my will but yours be done.” People who believe in God give Him His marching orders, Christians seek the Lord in prayer for their marching orders. Nothing wrong with taking God at His word, let us not use His Word to try to manipulate Him.
The Handling of God’s Word
Another difference between a believer and a Christian is there handling and response to the written Word. Simon Peter warns us to watch out for those who distort Scripture to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16) Christians want to know what God’s Word says as it is written within the context it was written in. Peter says people who will twist the Scriptures are ignorant and unstable – meaning they lack Holy Spirit enlightenment and illumination. They may have teaching from the best Bible schools in the world, they just rely upon their own ability to study. This is why there are false teaching in the world today. It is hard to believe that there are denominations who are embracing people in ministry who embrace lifestyles that break the heart of God. The Bible warns us, there will be people who will surround themselves with teachers who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3) Peter tells us, “…There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They secretly introduce destructive heresies… There is a popular TV series that uses Scripture to promote the lifestyle of having more than one wife. Christians claim the teachings of Jesus, “’Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4)
Willingness to Suffer for Christ
Another difference between a believer and a Christian is their willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. The Bible says, “…Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19) “Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the suffering of Christ, so you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of God rest on you.” (1 Peter 4: 13-14)
In an article written by Megan Briggs, titled, Canadian Clergy to Franklin Graham: we read, “The Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s (BGEA) Festival of Hope… in Vancouver, Canada. On the docket is a gospel message to be given by Franklin Graham. Last week, clergy representing 60 percent of the 1 million Christians in the progressive city asked Graham not to come to his own event. On Friday, February 24, 2017, the leaders issued a public letter expressing their concerns over Graham headlining the event. The reason: Evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders were already compiling their concerns when the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, approached them in February to discuss the security threat Graham represented. According to the letter released by the clergy, Robertson and the Vancouver Police Department perceived Graham’s appearance as potentially inciting violence. In their letter, the clergy articulate the thrust of their concern over Graham’s appearance at the Festival in this way: ‘Our concern is that the contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric that Mr. Graham has used has the potential to overshadow the message of Jesus and incite hostility in our highly charged social climate.’ And, more pointedly: ‘Regrettably, Franklin Graham’s public comments appear to compromise Jesus’ mission of love and justice for all.”’
Life Application: If we think that this is only a problem in Canada, we need to get on face-book and share God’s view on the issues Americans face today. I am afraid we will see our friends list drop – we will find ourselves blocked by many.
Ownership vs. Biblical Stewardship
Another difference between believers with an worldly influence and Christians is their view on the things they own. Whenever you hear of someone saying “my this” or “my that” you hear the reflection of someone who has no clue about God’s ownership of everything. The worldly view that we own it is proven wrong at the moment people physically die. If it was theirs they would have taken it with them, not leaving it here for someone else to have stewardship over it for a season of their lives. In Acts 17:24 we read that “God made the world and everything in it.” The Psalm of David says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Christian stewardship entails the responsibility of investing whatever time, talents and possessions God has given them for the purpose for His glory, governed by the fact they will give a full accounting. (AMG Bible Illustrations. (2000). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers) Christians know that their finance are gift from Him, on which there will be an accounting. Christians know that every living creature they have charge over belongs to the Lord, of which there will be an accounting. They know their Spiritual gifts, talents, skills and open door of opportunities are given by His hands, of which they will give an accounting. For example your pets or livestock. Ownership gives you the idea that it is yours, what you do with them is your business, the consequences of your actions will have no effect on you. However, when you approach the tending of God’s creatures and livestock as belonging to Him, you know there will be a day He will demand an accounting and there will be eternal consequences, curses or blessing will be handed out governed by His control. A Biblical view puts a different perspective on things.
Life Application: There will be a day of judgment. The Bibles says, “just as it is appointed to man to die once and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Do you approach everything you have as being given to you by God? Thus there will be a day of accounting, even the very words you speak, there will be the day of accountability and judgment.
Faithfulness Under the Pressure of Culture
Another difference between a believer and a Christian is their faithfulness to God under the conflict of the pressure of culture. The Bible teaches about three faithful men of God, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were men who would not serve the gods of Nebuchadnezzar nor would they bow and worship his image. When they were called to give an account, their response is worth taking to heart, “…we have no need to answer you in this matter. Our God is able to deliver us out of your burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3: 17) Which God did – and God did it in such a way that King Nebuchadnezzar saw His deliverance. Listen to the king’s words, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His angel and rescued His servants. They trusted in Him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (Daniel 3: 28) Remember Daniel, he refused the government decree of not praying to His God, he went and prayed openly for all to see. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and God rescued him from the mouths of the lions. (Daniel 6) Remember Steven, the New Testament deacon who defied the culture of His day and publicly preached Christ, of which he stoned to death for. The Bible says, “Steven was full of the Holy Spirit, he looked to heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
Life Application: Sadly there are modern day ministries who have fallen to the pressure of the culture around them. They have chosen to not to speak against certain sins so they can continue to do ministry in certain countries. Do we have the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel and Steven? Will we be seen as a ministry that calls sin, sin and proclaim God’s righteousness as the way we should live by?
The Way You Bear Witness for Christ
Another deference between a believer and a Christian is the way they bear witness of their faith in Christ. Listen carefully to the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, – Please take note of this last part of the commission, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 18-20) Many will speak of their church building, the times of their church services and even the pastor of their church. It is those who speak about the Christ who died for them, the Christ who can deliver sinners from bondage and equip the saints for sacrificial service, they are the ones who are enabled to see their calling for the Lord through to a healthy completion.
Saul, before he became the Apostle Paul, was very committed to the Jewish religion. Saul under the authority of the Sanhedrin persecuted the church of Christ. Once he repented, received Christ and his commission, his focus was not on planting a religious church governed by dead religion, but the church for Jesus Christ filled with people exercising Holy Spirit gifts. His focus was on teaching the truths that Jesus taught, a life walking in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ and a church of which Jesus is changing people for His Fathers glory. A young man sold out for the work God was asked, “Do you love people?” His answer, “I love people so much, I do not want to stay the same, but changed for the Lord’s glory.” Our call is not church membership, but disciples of Christ. A disciple of Christ is a person in whom Christ indwells through the Holy Spirit of Christ.
Knowing About vs. Knowing Christ
Lastly, there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. The Apostle Paul’s prayer, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” (Ephesians 1: 17) “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
To know (ginṓskō) the Son, means to strive to live the life Christ lived before God, His Father. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers. In 1 John we read, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His Word, love for God is truly made complete in them. …Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6)
Over the many years of working as a master farrier in the Arabian Horse business, I shod horses for Wayne Newton, Meadow Lark Lemon and Kenny Rogers. I knew of them, but I did not know them. I watched a great supper bowl game this year, I know about the quarter-backs, but I did not know them. My wife knows me! She knows when something is not right, when I am upset, depressed, or when I am happy, confident and Biblically Holy Spirit driven. When I am upset, she patiently pries until she gets it out of me. When I am hurting, she does whatever it takes to comfort me. When the Lord is leading me she can just sense it, because she knows me, she asked “I can I do to help?” Pennie knows what upsets me and how I am going to respond in certain situations. I give her full permission to correct me.
Life Application: Do you know when Christ is upset with you? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt if is He is going to bless or chastise you for what you have done? Do you make it a point to be aware the presence of His Holy Spirit, surrendering to His will for you? Have you given Him permission to correct you? Are you hungry for the Lord’s presence, guidance, and enablement?
In closing: People who are inexperience in the things of the Lord may think, “Hey, religion is religion, right?” The Bible says we should examine [ourselves] to see whether [we] are in the faith, test [ourselves]. Do we live like Jesus Christ is in [us]? Unless indeed [we] fail to meet the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) To be able to say that we past the test enables us to walk in faith that God will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us always and we need not continue to listen to the lies of the devil, whose desire is to destroy our faith in Christ. Testing our spiritual hearts with the truths found in this message enables us to drive on the high road God wants us on, riding on good quality tires, spiritual truths to live by in this world’s traffic system.
Isn’t That A Whale of A Tale
There are many who have called the book of Jonah, nothing but a “Big Fish Story.” Others have said that is just a “Whale of a Tale!” Meaning that the Book of Jonah is no more than a fairy tale, causing many, to miss the truths God wants them to grasp. This folklore myth approach to understanding the Book of Jonah has cause many to distrust the whole concept, there is a God in heaven who can do all things for His purpose and He is the Lord who is “gracious and compassionate… slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2; Exodus 34:6)
Now reason with me, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone begins to tell you about his fishing trip – especially, if it was a really good fishing trip. What comes to your mind when someone does a teaching and he begins with this statement, “Let me tell you a fairy tale, a parable or allegory if you will?” All Satan has to do is draw question about the truths in Book of Jonah, just a little, so people can miss out on the foundational truths of God’s redemptive love for those who are bound by the world view they live in.
I would propose to you there are truths in the Book of Jonah that are worth fishing for. Truths that the whole world needs to hear. Truths that should make us faithful to the call God has on our lives.
Just what does God, the original author of the Bible, have for you and me as we live in a world that is influenced and controlled by a philosophy that breaks His heart every day? What is to be our attitude as we live among a people who live a life we know is wrong, which is leading most astray and bringing our nation under the chastisements of God?
What Swallowed Jonah / Point People to God and Jesus Christ
Let us begin with that passage of Scripture that causes people to question the historical authenticity on how God dealt with His disobedient prophet. The Bible says, in the Book of Jonah, “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.” When people state a reason for not believing the Bible this passage of Scripture is often brought up. However, Jesus did not see the story of Jonah as being a fairy tale, a parable, or as folklore. When teaching about His death and the length of time His body was going to be in the ground, He referred back to it in saying, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish…” (Matthew 12:40)
Jesus takes it seriously we should to. And Christians do not need to be arguing over rather Jonah was swallowed by a fish or whale. This is why, the Hebrew word for fish (דָּג dāg̱) here is a general term and not a particular species. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) The creek word for fish (κῆτος kḗtos) as used by Jesus can refer to any large fish or sea creature, sea monster or whale – this particular word is a common parlance for any kind of aquatic creature. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers; Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Newman, B. M., Jr. (1993). A Concise Greek-English dictionary of the New Testament. (p. 100). Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies.; Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 47). New York: United Bible Societies.; Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.) The conclusion to be drawn from the linguistic data that is available for us, “Both the Hebrew and Greek languages lack the precision to identify with a specific identity of the sea creature that swallowed Jonah.” Lewis writes, “According to the Hebrew “dahg” and the Creek “ketos” words for fish – it was an undefined species.”
One of the arguments made by the world opinion is – the different translations of Bibles give different descriptions of the sea creature that swallowed up Jonah. It is a weak argument causing many to miss the Biblical truth – God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing… that moves about in it, according to their kind.” (Genesis 1:21) People disputing over which Bible translations has the best description is a waste of time and fuels an unbelieving fire that brings doubt on the authenticity of the Bible.
We are called to the highest standard that goes beyond arguing whale, fish, or sea monster to pointing people to the God of heaven and earth who created it and everything in it. (Hebrews 11:3) We are to point people to Jesus Christ who “upholds the universe by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
The focus should be on “the Lord provided..” Provided (מְנָא menā) is best translated as “appointed” in the ESV Bible, used four times in the Book of Jonah, always pointing to the Lord’s power to accomplish His will. (Smith, B. K., & Page, F. S. (1995). Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (Vol. 19B, p. 239). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) We should also point out – the sea creature was an instrument of God’s grace, instead of God letting the sea swallow up disobedient Jonah and take his life – God saves him.
Why God Had to Send A Sea Creature
The Bible says, “Jonah ran away from the Lord… boarded [the ship] and sailed…” away from the place were he was to proclaim God’s message to the Ninevites.
While at sea, on the journey to Tarshish, a great wind and violent storm arose. The Bible says, “all the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god…”
Now Jonah, “had gone down below deck… and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to [Jonah] and said, ‘How can you sleep. Get up and call on your god! Maybe, he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.'”
“Then the sailors said, ‘Let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.’ …the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, ‘Tell us, what have you done…’ He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew, and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.'”
The Bible says, “This terrified them… they knew that he was running form the Lord, because he had already told them.”
The Bible says the sea got even rougher, the sailors asked Jonah, what should we do? Jonah says, “…throw me into the sea. The Bible says the men did their best to row back to land, “but could not.” …they cried out to the Lord – ‘Please, Lord, do not hold us accountable for killing…'” Jonah.
The Bible says as soon as they threw Jonah overboard, the raging sea grew calm. “At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they …made vows to Him.” (Jonah 1)
Jonah’s honesty led men who prayed to other gods – to make vows to the One True God. Let the Holy Spirit awaken your heart – Can you find and teach the spiritual truths in the fish tale story in the Book of Jonah?
Nineveh One Wicked Town
The opening verse in the Book of Jonah, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah…” (Jonah 1:1 ) The message, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2) “…forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4)
While all sin is offensive to God, in some instances a nations sin becomes so wicked, the Lord calls a localized judgment – like Sodom and Gomorrah. Archaeology confirms the Biblical witness to the wickedness of the Assyrians. They were well known in the ancient world for brutality and cruelty. Ashurbanipal, the grandson of Sennacherib, was accustomed to tearing off the lips and hands of his victims. Tiglath-Pileser flayed victims alive and made great piles of their skulls. Jonah’s reluctance to travel to Nineveh may have been due to its infamous violence. (Smith, B. K., & Page, F. S. (1995). Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (Vol. 19B, pp. 225–226). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) The natural man in him wanted justice – not repentance and forgiveness for the Ninevites. (Jonah 4:2)
Let me tell you more about the people in Nineveh: The people were relentless and persistent in their sins, just like some people in America. Their king acknowledged that the people were “evil” and characterized by “violence.” (Jonah 3:8) The people were “carefree” (Zephaniah 2:15) thinking themselves as invincible. The prophet Nahum wrote about their several crimes. (Nahum 3:1, 4, 16) The Ninevites also worship Ishtar, a goddess of love and war. Two aspects of the character of Ishtar were prominent: eroticism and belligerence. She is taunted a being a faithless lover. (Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 433). San Francisco: Harper & Row.) This goddess of love and war was worshiped with explicit sexual activity. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Je 44:18). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)
The name Nineveh struck terror into the hearts of all those living in western Asia in this period. The Assyrian records bear testimony against them. This writing from the annals of Ashur-nasirpal ll says:
“I stormed the mountain peaks and took them. In the midst of the mighty mountains I slaughtered them; with their blood I dyed the mountain red like wool. With the rest of them I darkened the gullies and precipices of the mountains. I carried off their spoil and their possessions. The heads of their warriors I cut off, and I formed them into a pillar over against their city; their young men and their maidens I burned in the fire!… I built a pillar over against the city gates, and I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar, some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes, and others I bound to stakes round about the pillar.” – (Smith, J. E. (1994). The Minor Prophets (Jon 1:1–3). Joplin, MO: College Press.)
Let the Holy Spirit do the work of a modern day prophet. Could it be the worship of Ishtar is going on today? Sexuality being use to sell, attract, and draw people in the business world. According to Wikipedia Pornography is a 100 million dollar a year business, soft porn is acceptable.
Could the mindset of the Ninevites be on the heart of many in America? In 2011 the Center for Disease Control 730,322 abortions were reported. When people feel they have been mistreated in some way. The news is filled with violence in the streets. If we can not get our way, lets just get violent!
The question is – What ship has the modern day prophets (Ephesians 4:11-12) gotten on, running from the Lord’s call? – the Lord wants everyone to come to repentance! Jesus said, “…repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations.” (Luke 24:27)
The Prophet Nahum was sent to talk to the Ninevites, He starts his message with, “God is serious business. He won’t be trifled with. He avenges His foes. He stands against His enemies, fierce and raging. But God doesn’t lose His temper. He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power. Still, no one gets by with anything. Sooner or later, everyone pays. Tornadoes and hurricanes are the wake of His passage. Storm clouds are the dust He shakes off His feet.” (Nahum 1:2-3; Peterson E. H. 2005 The Message: the Bible in contemporary language Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress)
The great news – real men of God are not running from there callings, Baltimore Raven’s Benjamin Watson said, “Obama can’t save us. Mrs. Clinton can’t save us. Mr. Trump can’t save us. The only one who can change the heart of man is the Lord.” Benjamin went on to say, “America can only move forward with a nationwide change of heart. God tells us He alone can do that “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit with in you.” (Ezekiel 36:26) Franklin Graham asked, “Join me in praying for hearts to change across this country as people turn to God for help and put their faith in God’s [one and only] Son, Jesus Christ.”
A Modern Day Message to America
Once we stop arguing over the species of the sea creature that swallowed up Joan, learn to point people to God and Christ, take an honest look at the present state of the Unite States of America, we then can take God’s message to America. That message, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, …The Lord looks down from heaven, He sees all the children of man. …He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth… The king is not saved by His great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death…” (Psalm 33:12 – 18) America is not blessed because of her own efforts, God has blessed this nation.
When Jonah’s warning reached the King of Nineveh, the king issued a proclamation, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.” (Jonah 3:8) The Bible says, When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10)
Here, we see the true heart of a king who has grasped the truth of this teaching, God is able to overthrow a nation that continues to walk in disobedience. This king, unlike the presidents we have seen and the candidates laid before us now – lays down a decree which was to be followed by every individual, produce the fruit of repentance, turn from evil ways and violence. (Smith, B. K., & Page, F. S. (1995). Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (Vol. 19B, p. 267). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Prayer without reformation is a mockery of God. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 686). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) We are to have the heart of the Psalmist who wrote, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.” (Psalm 66:18-19)
Any nation that has the genuine change of heart like the Ninevites did, the Bible says, “they turned from their evil ways,” can enjoy God’s hand of judgment or chastisements be taken from them. (Smith, J. E. (1994). The Minor Prophets (Jon 3:10). Joplin, MO: College Press)
Do Not Have Jonah’s Heart
We must remember we are only to give the message from the Lord, we are to do it in obedience, and we are certainly not to have the same attitude of heart that Jonah had. Jonah’s heart is revealed to us in Jonah 4:1-3, “…he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:1-3)
Are we reading about a prophet of God, that has a disregard for human life or are we seeing a prophet who had no revelation of God’s mercy for all of mankind. Or is Jonah a representation of many Christians today, who miss the joy of being involved in the work of redemption, because they fail to see that it is God’s love for all mankind to save them from their sins, just as he had saved them and intervenes in their lives. We need not be like Jonah, failing to recognize God’s Sovereign plan and not enjoy the situation and circumstance we are in.
There is no doubt in my mind, Jonah would had been trilled to see God do a great redemptive work among the Jewish people, just like we would love to see God do a redemptive work in our families, among our friends and co-workers, and in our country.
In Jonah chapter four we read of God dealing with Jonah’s heart attitude in a unique way. “The Lord God provide a leafy plant and made it grow over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provide a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.” The Bible says, [Jonah] wanted to die, and said, ‘It would be better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:5-9)
The Bible says, “But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?'” Let me remind you, God is speaking to Jonah, and Jonah’s response, “..I am so angry, I wish I were dead.” (Jonah 4:9)
As we take a look at God’s response to Jonah, keep in mind the wickedness of the Ninevites, God said to Jonah, “…You have been so concern about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. …Should I not be concerned for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left – and also many animals.” (Jonah 4:10-11
The question God asked was, “Is it right for you?” Jonah’s response was about how he felt – like most responses you would hear today, in the church and the world view. Jonah had grown completely indifferent to the fate of God’s highest creation, human beings and the animals they have been given stewardship over. God has created every human being, and he wanted to extend His hand of mercy to them.
Let the Holy Spirit put your heart right with God’s view of the lost, even those who have committed the most wicked of deeds. What is your heart response to the child molester and killer, the murder, the drunken driver who kills an entire family in a drunken car wreck. What is our heart in regard to nations who do horrible things to good people. Are we willing – if called – to proclaim a message of repentance or face the final judgment to such a wicked society? Rest assured, those who fail to repent will face the God of Justice, and justice will be done. Those who do such crimes will face His justice here and in the here-after.
Nahum spoke to Nineveh about the nature of God when the city returned to its old practices, “Woe to you city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder… many casualties piles of dead bodies… I am against you declares the Lord.” (Nahum 3)
What a whale of a tale – to think of God’s patients, putting up with a disobedient prophet, His grace in sending a message of warning to a city of blood, false worship and brutality, then forgiving wicked, wicked people who produce the fruit of repentance.
God’s call to the watchman, (his church) is, When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.” (Ezekiel 3:18)
There are three heart attitudes that keep us from being a disobedient child of God: 1.) When God gives us message for a people, then deliver the message in a timely manner. 2.) Let God take care and responsibility for the response of the message proclaimed. And 3.) Grasp the heart of God in regard to the people you are sent to proclaim His message to.