Rahab – a character study. Part of the Dispelling Myths series. Chapter two.

English: The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spi...

English: The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spies, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) or follower, gouache on board, 9 1/16 x 6 5/8 in. (23.1 x 16.9 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is it that makes us decide to trust and believe, not just God, but people?

Everything we do as followers of Christ is wrapped around faith, the essence of trust and belief. However, there is added disincentive in the story of Rahab in that these two men who may have entered her house under false pretenses, have now enlightened her that they are spies; that her life is now in danger from the spies and the guards of Jericho. They point out that her only reasonable choice is to hide them, and she does.

For us, there is a sudden awareness that her faith in this unknown god and her desire to be rescued by Him has become challenged. What does this added incentive do to your belief system?

Ponder once again what Rahab tells the two Israeli spies.

Joshua 2:9-10 NASB and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10) “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

At first, it is deeply personal as she says, “ I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us,” This paragraph has belief and fear written all over it. While I, Rahab, know that the Almighty has his hand on you, there is a profound and genuine concern on the part of the entire city for their safety, lives, and mine as well.

Joshua 2:11 NASB “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Does fear promote belief? I know it does not work for me. I may, under duress, comply out of concern for the safety of my family and myself, but I will never come to admire and possibly love you, as Rahab did.

The reality is that God’s most significant impact on our faith is through signs. The idea that God is okay with that, comes from the statement where she recaps the two notable stories of which the people Jericho were aware. “We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.”

It is rapidly becoming evident that Rahab is a smart woman. You don’t last long in such a business without the skills of a spy yourself, and she, therefore, strikes a bargain.

Joshua 2:12-13 NASB “Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, 13) and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

The men hear her out and respond with the words she needs to hear.

Joshua 2:14 NASB So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

Having received a promise of protection, and trusting their word, she provides them with a way of escape. I am going to do something peculiar here, and verse 15 last because I cannot see any practicality to her shouting additional instructions to the men as they rappel down the wall from her window.

Joshua 2:15-21 NASB 16) She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17) The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18) unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19) “It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20) “But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.”

15) Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.

21) She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

The bargaining is completed. Rahab lets them out through a window and uses the same scarlet cord to signal Israel’s troops that hers is a safe house.

Suddenly it occurs to me. While the scarlet color may have been associated with her profession, it now represented that scarlet blood that saves us all. Few realize what took place. Consider also the tremendous significance, as Jesus was three days and nights in death, so to the scarlet rope hung from that window. Our redemption through Jesus was signaled all throughout this book we call the Bible, and today, I saw it.

What would have happened had the townsfolk of Jericho saw that cord suddenly hanging there? With the armed militia out chasing the spies, did the town now feel safe? I doubt it. The city may have gone on lock-down. How did this rope go unnoticed? That can only be God.

Did Rahab and her family demonstrate a strong faith in this God of Israel, and were therefore saved?

We don’t know any of that. Rahab took a chance and pitched her case, knowing full well that they could turn against her. If what she says is true, then the people within Jericho comprehend the threat that Israel poses. Finding out that two Israeli spies have infiltrated the city just raises the threat level exponentially. The result of the increased threat level is that the family, which may have treated her as an outcast, hurriedly gathered survival supplies and joined Rahab in her home.

Joshua 2:23-24 NASB Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24) They said to Joshua, “Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”

Safely back at camp, they related all that had happened. What a story. Oh, and by-the-way Joshua, there is one more thing you might find interesting – “Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.” At least that is what Rahab told us.

Melted – is the Hebrew word moog, meaning to melt; literally (to soften, flow down, disappear), or figuratively (to fear, faint).

Since this is a character study on Rahab, I am going to bypass much of the detail involved in the attack on Jericho. It is admittedly fascinating to learn how Jericho’s walls fell. Having seen pictures of the archaeological digs at Jericho, it becomes apparent that they went straight down into the ground. Except for one spot, that portion that Rahab lived in. Joshua 6:20

The NASB states that the wall fell flat. What does that mean? The Hebrew word is taḥaṯ: A preposition meaning under, beneath; in place of. It indicates a position below or underneath some other reference point.” Word Study Dictionary.

While the word flat is indeed an option, how do you explain under, beneath or a position below, especially when the passage goes on to say that every man walked straight ahead?

We don’t return to Jericho in the book of Joshua until chapter six. In the meantime, circumcisions have been performed, and Israel has passed through the Jordan on dry land, just as they did the Red Sea. This time they placed a large mound of stones to commemorate God’s goodness and what a coincidence that a large mound of stones has been located in the Sea of Galilee.

I suppose the obvious thing to consider here, is that much time has passed and that scarlet cord is probably still hanging out that window.

Joshua 6:21-23 NASB They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. 22) Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23) So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel.

How befitting that the young men who made the agreement should go and gather Rahab and her family.

Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel.”

Albert Barnes commentary states, “These words literally “made to rest outside the camp of Israel” – indicate that being still in their paganism, they were separated from the camp of the Lord. This was only for a time. They desired, and eventually obtained, admission to the covenant of the chosen people of God.”

Another instance where we have no details. We know nothing about paganism, but it is probably safe to assume. Since Rahab seems to have a faith in this God she knows little about, we shall see her come to understanding and acceptance.

Joshua 6:25 NASB However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

And everyone lived happily ever after, well, I would hope so. Sadly we live in reality, but there are three other passages I want you to see.

In spelling out the Jewish heritage of Jesus, the gospel of Matthew includes Rahab.

Matthew 1:5 NASB Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.

Boaz, if you remember, owned the land in which Ruth had been directed to work by Naomi, her mother in law. Boaz buys the right to marry Ruth, and they produced a child named Obed, and Obed became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Rahab is found in Hebrews 11 because of her faith.

Hebrews 11:31 NASB By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

And lastly, as an example of how faith works, we have the writings of James.

James 2:24-25 NASB You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25) In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

Understanding the ramifications, Rahab accepted the spies, protected, and sent them safely on their way. So, Rahab then becomes an example for us, of faith and how it works.

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Rahab – a character study. Part of the Dispelling myths series. Chapter one.

I am not so sure there are myths involved, as it is more a case of suppositions. My interest in Rahab started long ago, as I heard the stories, but rarely ever read the story for myself. If you follow my posts, then you would know that I have gone through some dark times. I suspect that the sentence, “train up a child in the way that they should go” played a role in this freedom and understanding that I now have, for I knew that I needed to plant my heart and mind firmly in God’s word. Sadly, when I started doing that, I found myself bored and confused; it was difficult to focus, and I kept hearing this voice in my head, saying, I have read this before. Anguished by this lack of motivation I talked bluntly and plainly to God about the situation, and I asked Him to make Himself real to me. I don’t remember when my attitude changed, but it was shortly after that prayer. Soon after, I found myself seeing these Bible characters as real, with flesh and blood. Things quickly changed and I could see them struggle just you and I do.

Rahab was one of those characters. It has been several years since I last looked at Rahab, but my interest resurfaced recently as our men’s group watched and listened to Francis Chan teach on the book of James, a book that references Rahab and her faith.

Look at what James had to say about the dear lady.

James 2:25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

As typical with men, there is the subtle laughter as they try to adjust their thinking to accept the fact God would use someone like a whore. I cannot remember the question asked, but I immediately began talking about this amazing woman and what she did. I then asked, how would I know any of those things, because I read through the Bible; that, and I have studied these characters multiple times as they are integrated into our lives as believers, at every turn.

This story of Rahab, like most everything else in scripture, has a background, and for us, that background comes primarily from the camp of Israel. So let’s quickly look at that.

Moses has died, and the leadership role is now being passed to Joshua.

The entire first chapter of Joshua is essentially a directive to be strong, but there is an astounding statement that seems to make them invincible.

Joshua 1:3 CJB I am giving you every place you will step on with the sole of your foot, as I said to Moshe (Moses).

The connotation is, in battle. Consider how they, through the ten spies, step on the land of Canaan. Did they completely take the land God spoke of? No, and yet, in the long run, God’s word is still valid, for the ground has been given to Israel. (Still today, there is bitter disagreement and fighting over this.)

Chapter one ends with a uniform agreement on the part of Israel’s fighting forces.

Joshua 1:17-18 NASB “Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the LORD your God be with you as He was with Moses. 18) “Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.”

I am not sure how to perceive this. Would the fighting men kill anyone that resisted one of Joshua’s directives? The next plan we see is this,

Joshua 1:10-11 NASB Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11) “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.'”

I always assumed that Jericho was one of the first cities Israel conquered, however, when you look at a map which indicates the traditional path that Israel took into the promise land. The chart shows them traversing north along the Eastern side of the Jordan and then crossing above the Sea of Galilee and then dropping down south on the Western side of the Jordan, into Jericho.

As a visual learner, I now have the placement of Jericho square in my thinking, and it is the next stop.

Joshua 2:1 NASB Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab and lodged there.

Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua

Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This ugly tale is where we first meet Rahab. Without a doubt, our introduction leaves something to be desired, as she is a harlot. What are the problems with this introduction? We immediately start assigning personality traits, personal habits, and a lack of intelligence and integrity; all of which are things we cannot discern as yet.

Let’s start dissecting this.

  • then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

    Jericho was not the only thing on their list. The more they moved through the land, the greater their chances of being seen. The idea that Jericho was the top of Joshua’s list was evident.

    Secretly is the Hebrew word cheresh, and can also mean silently.

    Webster’s dictionary tells us that secretly is defined as: Privately; privily; not openly; without the knowledge of others.

  • So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab,”

    You are a stranger, in a strange land, and, you may not speak or read the same language, yet, you come into the house of a harlot. Think about that for a moment. I brought this up before the men that morning. A short time later, one of the men pushed his electronic pad at me. On it, was an etching found in stone, in front of a building that had been dug out of the ashes of Pompeii. It was overtly sexual and easily identifiable. It required no additional explanation, and the implications could easily mean a house of whoredoms.

    Working from the premise that we have no other information to build this story on, there is NOTHING in scripture that defines how the spies would have known this.

    If we lack documented, historical information, then all we have is conjecture, and sadly, inference opens the door to Rahab pandering these new men in town. Taking this debauchery one step further; what is there that explains why the two spies were going into her house? I want to believe that they were above self-indulgence, but it cannot be ruled out.

    You should be thinking along the same lines as I am, about now. While finding a friendly voice in a strange place might be considered a Godsend, the spies still need to investigate, and this would allow them to move about freely for a short time. Quickly, they explained the grave nature of their business and how quickly they could kill her. But then, they are trying to gain an ally and temporary safety.

  • and lodged there.”

    Lodge is Hebrew word shâkab and means to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose.)

    The intent is not to pass on more twisted thinking, but to make a point. We have sterilized God’s word to the point that we cannot see that these were people, with frailties, just as we all have. If you follow the scriptural text, you will not see judgment coming from God about their actions. However far this went is none of our business, but in our quick judgments and condemnations, we dispatch people, like Judas Iscariot, to hell, while condoning the actions of these men. After all, it was war.

Joshua 2:2 MKJV And the king of Jericho was told about it, saying, Behold, men from the sons of Israel came in here tonight, to search out the country.

Apparently, someone had seen them and knew where they came from. What was even worse, is that the Israelis had been seen going into Rahab’s house on the wall.

Joshua 2:3 MKJV And the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring out the men that have come to you, those who have entered into your house. For they have come to search out all the country.

The king has sent messengers, probably armed guards, willing to kill. The demand is to bring out the men that come to you. Okay, here is where things get a little confused.

Joshua 2:4 CJB However, the woman, after taking the two men and hiding them, replied, “Yes, the men did come to me; but I didn’t know where they had come from.

Think about what just happened. Messengers, capable of killing you, demand that you bring out the men that came into the home.

You want me to believe that the guards just stood outside and waited for her to return?

But if she was aware that this entourage was coming, wouldn’t she hide them before they started knocking?

So, she, knowing that they want these men, hides them and lies about where they are. Her statement, “ Yes, the men did come to me; but I didn’t know where they had come from.” To some degree this statement was right It wasn’t long before they revealed their mission to her. Consider how she with minimal information, made a life-changing decision to believe the Israeli spies.

She continues the deception.

Joshua 2:5 CJB “The men left around the time when they shut the gate, when it was dark. Where they went I don’t know; but if you chase after them quickly, you will overtake them.”

The Israelis were still in the house.

Joshua 2:6 CJB Actually she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them under some stalks of flax she had spread out there.

Does it make sense that they would merely take her word, No, or why else would she hide them under the flax?

Joshua 2:7 CJB The men pursued them all the way to the fords at the Yarden; as soon as the pursuit party had left, the gate was shut.

Not finding them, the king’s messengers go in pursuit.

Joshua 2:8 CJB The two men had not yet lain down when she returned to the roof.

As we wandered through the book section at our local warehouse store, I looked at a devotional journal that focused on women of the Bible. Rahab was listed, as she should be, but the author’s version of the story was what we come to expect when tradition rules our thinking; as it conflicted with what the Bible says.

How easy it is to twist a story.

Joshua 2:9-11 NASB and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10) “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11) “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Without this information, we could never adequately understand what transpired that made her heart turn toward the God of Israel.

What did she tell us?

  • I know that the LORD has given you the land.

    This statement is a verbal demonstration of her acceptance.

  • That the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.

    We see terminology like this all throughout the Bible. And yet, when you read the biblical stories, you come to find that in reality, it means quite a few. The number is significant enough to be on the alert for spies.

  • For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt.

    Consider how many, choose to dispute or deny, the Red Sea crossing. Here is this woman, whom many would disregard, spelling out a common understanding and belief about Israel’s passage through the Red Sea, on dry land.

  • What you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, Sihon, and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

    And lastly, the most impactful statement of all of them.

  • When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

    When it comes to making a confession of who God is in your life, this would be it. Having written recently about Jonah, one of the things we learn of, is that Jonah was a sign. Can you see that God’s guidance and actions have been signs?

Many of you are aware of Rahab already. You may also be mindful that she becomes an integral aspect of the lineage of Jesus, our King.

In spite of your ugly titles or bad reputation, the God who knows the beginning from the end will find a way to draw you into the kingdom. You could not convince me that this woman did not have a changed heart; a change we like to call salvation.

Soon, the action will get more intense as Israel, following God’s directions, marches around the wall. This amazing woman will continue to play a miraculous role.

Posted in bible study, false teaching, gentiles, God's character, healing, Jews, Joshua, Mercy, Prophetic, Rahab, recovery, redemption, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dispelling some Myths – Jonah. Chapter four.

When we last saw Jonah, he had walked through the town of Nineveh, a three-day journey, as he proclaimed “forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The result of God’s proclamation, the entire town, and the Assyrian king cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes and repent of their evil.

Does Jonah rejoice over such a great response? Not at all, and that is where we pick up this story.

Jonah 4:1-2 NASB But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. 2) He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this, I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.

I pointed out early on that you needed to know the background story to understand why Jonah chose to flee from God and not carry out this assignment. Briefly, the Assyrians had ravaged Israel on multiple occasions and taken many captive. They were a brutal people and dragged many of their captives back to Nineveh with meat hooks. To put it plainly, Jonah despised them.

But there is another side to Jonah’s background, and you see it in his comment above. “I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”

Now Ask yourself, how did Jonah come to this understanding of God?

Just do a word search for the phrase, slow to anger. It shows up at least 14 times in the Old Testament. The passages extend from Exodus to Nahum. Another aspect of Jonah’s life, which we only see in 2Kings 14:25, was that he was the son of Amittai, the prophet. It was not unusual for many of our biblical characters to be the son of a priest or elder. If that were the case, Jonah would have had a proper education in the local Synagogue school. His education would have required him to memorize the known books of the Law and writings of the prophets. Therefore, Jonah would have had tremendous insight into God’s nature and character. How could that be a bad thing? It wouldn’t unless, you are actively maintaining un-forgiveness toward a people group, and Jonah was.

Look at what Jonah said,

  • was not this what I said while I was still in my own country?”

    Apparently, Jonah tried to reason with God.

  • Therefore in order to forestall this, I fled to Tarshish,”

    What is Jonah trying to forestall – God showing mercy, contrary to Jonah’s wishes? Secondly, there is the aspect of forestalling. To do that he effectively runs in the opposite direction of where he is supposed to go, and that required a boat ride. We have no maps that indicate a town called Tarshish in Jonah’s day. Many, however, have pointed to Southern Spain as the location of Tarshish. That is definitely the opposite direction.

    • for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, low to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”

      If you read my posts, then you also know that I have a thorn in my flesh – a study leader. This leader, in opposition to what Jonah understood, and the word of God, on a weekly basis, explains that everyone reaching the Great White Throne will be sent to a fiery hell. An in-depth reading of Matthew 25’s account of the sheep and goats, is, though given different names, the same scenario we see in Revelation 20. One demonstrates an angry God, while the other shows us a gentle shepherd. Both indicate a group that chose not to follow Christ and therefore follows their leaders to the same hell. And both have books out of which Jesus makes His decision.

      In Matthew, the shepherd, finding simple acts of kindness in those books, allows those He called sheep to enter into the glorious kingdom, and therefore escape hell. It’s all in the details, but details, are tedious for some. And, those details we find in scripture, you know, often point out how wrong we are, as they demonstrate that some teaching or belief we hold, is blatantly wrong and false, and no one wants to hear that. My wife asks me why I put myself under a false teacher. Don’t think for a moment that this man is the only one. The pastor, whom my wife reveres, had many of us as a captive audience at a mountain camp where he told us while explaining communion once again, that Jesus, in the garden that night, did not want to go to the cross for us. So, false teaching is not that uncommon. While I am painfully aware of how grave this situation is I have not been called to fight with these men, for in so doing I move into the realm of judgment.

      Let me ask you an obvious question. Have we been called to be God’s judges here on earth, or to show mercy and demonstrate His character? The answer is “show mercy.” This theme is detailed throughout the New Testament, and I will let you find that on your time. The ugly and more demanding aspect of the question revolves around judgment, something that has been taken out of our hands.

      David may have been anointed as king, but Saul still sat on the throne. And, Saul wanted David dead. While hunting for David, Saul stops in a cave to relieve himself. David and his unruly band happened to be hiding in that same cave. Given the opportunity to kill Saul, David chose not to, and thus we see his thoughts in 1Samuel.

      1 Samuel 24:12, 15 GW May the LORD decide between you and me. May the LORD take revenge on you for what you did to me. However, I will not lay a hand on you. 15) So the LORD must be the judge. He will decide between you and me. He will watch and take my side in this matter and set me free from you.”

John 5:22 NASB “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son (Jesus,)

Jonah’s depression has retaken hold of him, and therefore we see this:

Jonah 4:3 NASB “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”

Two things jump out at me as I read this.

  1. Wasn’t Jonah dead already?

    I guess to be fair, he didn’t ask to be brought back to life, or did he?

    (Right in the midst of writing this I finally took Dad out to the Mexican restaurant I had promised once he had recovered from his surgery. Dad, having not seen much of me lately, asked what’s going with me, and I began telling him about what I had been learning as I wrote about Jonah. He listened and then said, I think God prepared “a special fish,” one that could maintain an adequate oxygen supply for Jonah, and therefore Jonah never died. To try to bolster his argument dad added, Jonah was able to think and pray.)

    The problem with this kind of thinking is that it ignores common sense and logic by excluding the idea that God would not merely use what was available. Some examples would be:

    • That NO fish could provide a livable environment.

    • That medical documentation demonstrates how we lose consciousness after 30 to 40 seconds, therefore allowing Jonah the time for thought;

    • It also throws aside what Jesus said about Jonah being a sign, as he was three days and nights in the belly of a fish. This statement by Jesus was made was to Pharisees and scribes for the purpose of establishing a common thread between Jonah and what was to happen to Jesus shortly.

    • One other thing, because of Jewish tradition – that believed the soul finally parted from the body after three full days, Jesus words, meant that He acknowledged that Jonah had died out there in that fish.

  1. If being dead was high on Jonah’s list, then why did he say all those words we see in chapter two? Specifically:

    Jonah 2:7-9 NASB “While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple. 8) “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, 9) But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.”

It sounds like he was calling out to God, knowing that God would and could save him. You should be picking up on the general idea that God would and could save us as well?

God did not respond to this depressed, angry whining, but quietly said,

Jonah 4:4 NASB The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?

Jonah thought he did, and so did I. I can only speak to my experience, as we are not privy to Jonah’s. I wasted a significant portion of my life maintaining the chains and bars of the prison I kept in my head; a prison in which I held those people that hurt me. It was part of the payment I thought they owed me.

Jonah 4:5 NASB Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.

What did I just miss? We have to back up to chapter three to rehearse what happened.

Jonah 3:10 NASB When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

So, Jonah got the word that he was to deliver, and it went like this, “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!” (Contemporary English Version)

What happened next is beyond belief? Why, because we lack a tremendous amount of information. In my previous post “Dispelling some Myths – Jonah chapter 3,” I posed a hypothetical situation in which an Assyrian worshiper of Dagon, the fish god, happened to be at the beach when the whale spewed Jonah upon it. If that person took this information and shared it with everyone they met along the way and all through Nineveh, it might explain the overwhelming response to the unfavorable words Jonah delivered to them.

Important points that the word shows about these people and their response. Jonah 3:5-10 NASB

  • the people of Nineveh believed in God, and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.”

  • The king in following the lead of the people covered himself with sackcloth and ashes.

  • The king ordered a proclamation written which included man and beast. It stated that all must demonstrate repentance by covering themselves in sackcloth and ashes.

  • And then, all must “call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from violence which is in his hands.

How did God respond to their actions?

4:10) When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

So, where do we find Jonah at this point? Sitting on a hill outside of town, watching and waiting for God to destroy them. Did he miss the memo? Did he not see their actions? Did, what seems like common acts of repentance, mean nothing to Jonah?

All you would have to do is start counting the days. And yet, we have nothing to help us with that. Like so many other things, we are left in the void.

Jonah 4:2 NASB He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this, I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.

For all we know, Jonah saw their acts of repentance and immediately knew what would happen next.

Jonah 4:6-8 NASB So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7) But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8) When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”

Sitting, waiting for these hated people to die, God appoints a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade. I don’t know how to perceive this situation because I know that God can do miracles. However, it is reminiscent of Mickey Mouse portrayed as Mickey and the Beanstalk, where the beanstalk grows overnight at an unbelievable rate. Quickly the situation changes as the next day a God-appointed worm eats that same plant, and now the sun is beating down on Jonah’s head.

Once again, Jonah turns suicidal.

Jonah 4:9 NASB Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.”

Did Jonah have good reason to be angry, even to death? All Jonah had was his hatred and bigotry. Is that a good excuse? Sorry, but no. Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, said, that having your debts forgiven is predicated upon you forgiving.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 NASB ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

I participate in several different groups, from a variety of churches, but they aren’t that different for there a consistent lack of understanding, and a limited desire to pursue God’s word that permeates all three groups. Asked to join an evening group I am currently doing a book study. We are looking at Max Lucado’s book, Facing Your Giants. We were attempting to discuss the fifth and sixth chapter in which the topic of forgiveness was covered. Max Lucado finally spoke in terms I could understand, as he, on page 48, said,

God occupies the only seat on the supreme court of heaven. He wears the robe and refuses to share the gavel. For this reason, Paul wrote, “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:19 MSG). Revenge removes God from the equation. Vigilantes displace and replace God. “I’m not sure you can handle this one Lord. You may punish too little or too slowly. I’ll take this matter into my hands, thank you.”

The problem is, we barely touched on this. One of the men tried to oppose me the previous week, as he said, forgiving is hard! I responded with, No, it is easy, what is hard, is accepting that you have no power over that person, and all your energies are useless.

Jonah 4:10-11 NASB Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

While I never saw anything said about the plant dying in verse 9; apparently God saw Jonah’s heart. Jonah’s anger had nothing to do with the plant. He wanted all of those people dead.

You can see that God destroys Jonah’s lack of focus when He says, “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand.” I always took this to indicate a lack of common sense. But I have learned so much by doing this study, and one of those things came as I looked at other translations of Jonah 4:11. The Amplified Bible indicates that the 120,000 were innocents – “persons not [yet old enough to] know their right hand from their left, and that is who God is protecting here more than those repenting.

While I have heard several pastors point out how Jesus had compassion on the doves and other animals that were being sold in the temple courts, for he emptied their cages and then threw them. Perhaps, in mentioning the “many animals,” God was taking a jab at those who had repented by their actions, knowing full well what would become of their great nation.

Think about the devastation that would come should God ignore their pleas. We see an example of destruction when fire and brimstone rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and everyone died, including innocents.

My study on Jonah is done for now. However, every time I do these studies I learn, things I have never heard; and, I unlearn some garbage. The result is that God always gets bigger and more valuable in my mind. Does any of this imply that I wish to test God’s patience and resolve by throwing myself into choppy seas so that a big fish can spit me onto the shore, and entire communities will repent? Not a chance. I am content to let His love grow in me, and occasionally share with those that are willing to listen.

God bless you on this fascinating journey we travel, for we who are followers of Jesus are profoundly blessed, whether you realize it or not. While those outside the family, are loved, longed for, and pursued by a passionate God. Don’t waste your time hating. Simply absorb yourself in His passion and watch what he can do.

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Dispelling some Myths – Jonah. Chapter three.

When I was a child watching cartoons on the television, there was a character named Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties. Every week he would get caught up in some suspense with the bad guys, and end up hanging off a cliff or trying to save his girlfriend Nell, who was always put in some perilous situation. The drama was quite intense, and they always left off with, “will our hero save her in time?”

Well, this story about Jonah is not so different, as Jonah is thrown into a turbulent sea. No one reading this thinks he has a chance. Then, a massive fish swallows him whole. How often does that happen? And, contrary to what we see in Pinocchio, there is no chance of survival in the belly of any fish. Therefore, Jonah, whom we have previously demonstrated from scripture, dies. God, however, in the form of the hero, comes to the rescue and brings him back to life.

God’s call comes to Jonah a second time. He gets up, walks an incredible distance to Nineveh, and declares that their destruction will come in forty days. He does not give them an option, and yet the entire town repents and acknowledges God. Having spent enough time around pastors. You would think anyone doing the preaching would be elated to have a whole community change their lives and come to repentance, but not Jonah.

So, let’s go back to where we left our (dead or dying) “hero,” Jonah, as he says –

“But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.” Jonah 2:9 NASB

I am splitting Jonah 2:9-10 to make a point. When we read, we ignore small details, such as what Jesus said about Jonah.

Matthew 12:39-40 CJB He replied, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign? No! None will be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40) For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea-monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the depths of the earth.

One of these details, as you see above, is the idea that Jonah was a sign, and that sign had everything to do with him being in the belly of a fish for an exact length of time. Because some will only read this and not the previous posts, I repeat the understanding that Jewish tradition taught that the soul did not leave the body until it had been dead for three days. Jesus, contrasting himself to Jonah, spoke volumes to the scribes and Pharisees when he said this. They immediately understood that Jonah was, without a doubt, dead.

So, where does that leave Jonah? Dead, in the belly of a great fish.

Jonah 2:10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Lacking details, we are left to speculate as to when Jonah is brought back to life. Perhaps the answer lies in Jonah 3:1-2. The NASB entitles this next section; Jonah Goes to Nineveh, and thus chapter three really begins.

Did God merely throw Jonah aside? The obvious answer is no. However, there are those that would preach such a message, emphasizing how God now has to get another person to do the job you could not, or would not do. In the judgmental minds of many, God had every reason to reject Jonah? And yet He did not. No, God wanted and needed this man; even more, God needed Jonah’s current experience. Hence, we get the notice that the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.

Jonah 3:1-2 NASB Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2) “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.”

There is one other aspect of this story that I have recently become aware of, and that is The fish god Dagon.

Dagon figures into the story of Jonah, as well, although the deity is not mentioned by name in Jonah’s book. The Assyrians in Ninevah, to whom Jonah was sent as a missionary, worshiped Dagon and his female counterpart, the fish goddess Nanshe. Jonah, of course, did not go straight to Ninevah but had to be brought there via miraculous means. The transportation God provided for Jonah—a great fish—would have been full of meaning for the Ninevites.” From the article Who was Dagon in the Bible?” As posted on www.gotquestions.org.

Just moments before he had been dead in the belly of a fish, and now we find him on the beach lying face first in the hot sand. For all, we know God saw fit to have witnesses to the event. God says arise, and almost simultaneously, Jonah, suddenly aware that life has come surging back into his body, begins to respond. The brain that should have been irreparably damaged now hears the voice of God, as He says, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.

Arise is the Hebrew word qûm: A verb meaning to arise, to stand, to stand up. The basic meaning of this word is the physical action of rising up.

So, although the implications of raising Jonah from the dead are there, it is not clear from these words alone. What am I suppose to believe about this, that a dead man was told to get up and go to Nineveh, or that Jonah never died? Neither of these scenarios is plausible. At some point, life came back into Jonah, and the beach is the only practical place for that to happen.

I mentioned what I had found about Jonah, to a dear friend. Without my prompting, he added, it is possible that the person who witnessed Jonah being spewed onto the beach may have been an Assyrian. It is possible that this person quickly jumped on his camel and rode back to Nineveh and told them about this fish man, and that he is headed this way. Considering that on two maps, the distance from the ocean to Nineveh is at least 300 miles at its shortest distance. Where is Jonah, with no money or food and water, going to get provisions for such a journey? That is unless someone who believed in fish gods told everyone he met what he saw and that the man was coming. Not knowing any of this Jonah may have approached wells and asked for a drink, only to encounter fearful looks as they backed away and left him to help himself. Vendors in the marketplace may have pushed their children behind their backs handing the man anything he wanted.

Why is any of this important? Because Jesus told the Pharisees, they would get no sign but the sign of Jonah. If I were looking for signs: getting spewed dead, onto a beach, by a whale, and then being brought back to life, while potentially having someone witness the event, then relating what they saw to the target audience, that a fish man was coming could be considered a sign.

Did Jesus, who compared Himself to Jonah and some significant sign, have any signs of His own? Without a doubt, as the sky went dark at midday; no bones were broken, just as prophecy said; he was beaten beyond recognition as scripture told us; the stone that covered His grave was rolled away and, he arose from the dead, just as he said he would.

Note one other thing here. God tells him “and proclaim to Nineveh the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” Jonah does not even know what the message is going to be. Surely it will be ominous and quick in coming.

Jonah 3:3 MKJV And Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the Word of Jehovah. And Nineveh was a very great city of three days’ journey.

Once he arrives at Nineveh, where he is to proclaim a message that only then will he be privy to, we are made aware that the town takes three days to walk through, and God has made it clear that all of Nineveh would hear the message.

Jonah 3:4 MKJV And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!

Jonah’s word for the people was perfect by his standards – “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” He wanted them dead.

I mentioned how the worship of Dagon is not revealed to us in this story.
Is it something we should ignore? No, for it answers many questions. For example, how would an Israelite walk unscathed through a land of savages that have a record of killing his people? Had I not stumbled upon the information about Dagon, the fish god, I cannot say I would have even thought to pursue such a lead, even though it has always troubled me. Knowing that they worshiped a fish god, and Jonah was spewed from a fish, he would have instant credibility, as apparently Jonah’s god had greater power.

The response to what Jonah said was instantaneous.

Jonah 3:5 NASB Then the people of Nineveh believed in God, and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.

I always thought that the people responded in kind, as the king covered himself in ashes. It seems that the king followed the lead of his people.

Jonah 3:6 NASB When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.

Why being covered in ashes represents some form of remorse, I don’t know, but it seems to be universal.

Jonah 3:7-8 NASB He issued a proclamation, and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8) “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth, and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.

What are the mandates this king made?

  • Nobody and nothing are to eat or drink.

  • Man and beast must be covered in sackcloth.

  • And let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.

The alarming aspect is the recognition, on the part of the Assyrians, that this message was a direct result of their wickedness and the violence of their hands. The next thing we see is often used as a truth we apply to our own lives. Regardless of who said it, it does demonstrate the nature of God, something Jonah understood.

Jonah 3:9 NASB “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

The Ninevehites were right, for God has relented on multiple occasions.

Jonah 3:10 NASB When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

We will deal with Jonah’s response to all this mercy in the next chapter. It is the reason Jonah ran from God and His potential message in the first place.

Now, what do we do with the disappointment we feel as God shows someone mercy, when we, by our judgment, believe they deserve nothing less than hell’s flames?

Don’t think this kind of logic is so odd, I wasted most of my life, dwelling on the painful repayment process several men owed me for the damage they did to me as a youth in the church. This entire train of thought falls under the category of un-forgiveness, something we come to realize is a waste of energy, as we grow in the knowledge of the God we serve.

Reread verse ten. The writer used the word relented.

Relented is the Hebrew word nâcham. It means to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself).

So, while God may have had pity or consolation toward Nineveh, that did not mean that He forgot what He said.

The Prophet Nahum seems to speak in code about the destruction of Nineveh. Although the entire book of Nahum is as the Amplified Bible calls it, “THE BURDEN or oracle (the thing to be lifted up) concerning Nineveh [the capital of Assyria].” We are not given clear details as to why Nineveh was brought to ruin, and, we are not given details as to who conquered them, nor how. And yet, history demonstrates that God’s judgment did come to pass against them.

Nineveh shall be overthrown!

Nahum 3:7 NASB “And it will come about that all who see you Will shrink from you and say, ‘Nineveh is devastated! Who will grieve for her?’ Where will I seek comforters for you?”

Regardless of when it happened God stayed faithful to His word. Still, the purists will say, Ah, but God said forty days! For a God that lives outside of any known dimensions we have, time means nothing. One of the places in scripture this is evidenced is in Daniel’s prophecy about the Messiah’s return for His own. It is expressed in terms of 70 weeks of years. We, the church, are stuck between the 69th and 70th week, a time period that has now lasted over 2000 years. Does this bother God at all? No, as He is appropriately waiting for the full number, which only He knows, to come into the kingdom.

Again, just because we have no details in scripture about some items, is no reason to ignore historical background information, or the lessons we are meant to learn. A common thread we all fall prey to – whether you are a follower of Christ, or, as the Jewish mind thinks, an idolatrous Gentile – is the foolish belief that just because you did not get caught, then God must not care or see. Oh, He sees everything, for there is nothing that is hidden from His view. And, I think Jonah came to understand this concept clearly.

Posted in bible study, Dispelling myths, false teaching, gentiles, God's character, Hearing God, Jews, Jonah, judgment, Mercy, Prophetic, recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dispelling myths – Jonah. Chapter two.

As chapter one in the book of Jonah comes to a close, it separates verse 17 under the heading; A Great Fish Swallows Jonah.

If you read my last post on Jonah, I talked about the impracticality of Jonah surviving for any time in the ocean. Keep in mind that Jonah is written in the third person. So, although it may have been written by Jonah, it is apparent that it was written after the incidents transpired.

So, let’s deal with reality for a moment.

  • The crew that threw Jonah overboard did not consider the possibility of Jonah surviving. And, they did not think for a second that a massive fish would swallow him whole. They anticipated that he would drown; what motivated that thought in them? The ocean conditions themselves.

  • Falling overboard in violent storm conditions, or being thrown in does not matter. You should have drowned. When you do a little research on how the human body dies, you find that after 30 to 40 seconds without air you lose consciousness. After three minutes without oxygen, the brain typically suffers irreparable brain damage and stops working. The medical consensus is that a lack of brain function is the marker for death.

  • Considering the clothing that we typically see the Jews wearing in those days, there was little chance of him swimming, even if he could.

  • The crew could not make it to shore under the weather conditions they were experiencing, and neither would Jonah.

Alright, Jonah is now in the water. However, God is not the least bit concerned with circumstances or reality, for immediately we are dealt this piece of information.

Jonah 1:17 NASB And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

We have no witnesses. If we do, where are they? If Jonah is conscious, I can assure you that he never saw what was coming. As we ponder what kind of fish is large enough to swallow a man whole, three possibilities come to mind, but one can be eliminated rather quickly.

  • A giant grouper (Black Sea Bass.) While their mouths can open wide enough, they do not have the length necessary to accommodate a full grown man.

  • Great White sharks seem to be high on the list, but then there is that nasty habit they have of ripping things in half.

  • The last one I read about talk of the Sperm whale’s ability to take in man whole, and, they don’t have teeth per-say. What they do have is a multiple stomach system, much like a cow. The highest probability is that you would be crushed in that first stomach, and there would be no oxygen.

The practicality of Jonah’s survival so far is none.

We are rarely shown or told how much time passes in most of these biblical events. In this case, I think we are looking at something under 40 seconds. At the longest, almost four minutes. Why do I think that?

Look at these verses in chapter two of Jonah.

Jonah 2:1-5 NASB Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, 2) and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. 3) “For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. 4) “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless, I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5) “Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.

Jonah prayed to God from the stomach of the fish.

All of us do it, we wait until we are going under, and then we cry out to God. Jonah is no different. Logic tells you, you are not making it out of this situation. Oddly, he is aware of his thoughts, predicament, and that there is seaweed wrapped around his head.

It sounds like there is hope. And, there is nothing here that tells us conclusively, that he is dead.

I thought I would avoid this aspect, but why hold back. If you survive, the religious will condemn you for not turning to God earlier. So let’s think this through for a moment. Is it possible that Jonah could have avoided all this? Sure; the answer would have been to comply with what God told him to do. How many of us does it right the first time? Very few.

Why then, did he not just go to Nineveh instead of killing himself.

I did it again, didn’t I? One, I am pushing the belief that he is now dead, and two, I leaned toward that suicide idea. That bothers you doesn’t it? It bothers many at the morning Bible study as well. Why? Because, the religious see suicide as the ultimate murder of oneself, therefore leaving no space for repentance. God’s only recourse then is to punish you forever in the eternal flames of hell. If what I am saying is true, then why do we have this book, and why did Jonah go on to give the message to Nineveh? Apparently, because God is not driven to despair over the things we get wrapped up in, and His plans supersede, not only our methods but death itself.

Without background information, which I made a note of in chapter one, you would not know what motivated the man.

One commentary referred to Jonah as a bigoted man. In other words, he wanted the Assyrians dead. However, he instinctively knew God would show them mercy, and he was right. But again, you don’t learn that until chapter four of Jonah’s book. This has overwhelming implications, as most of do not realize that the nature and character of God is mercy.

Think of this story as though someone is telling you a preposterous tale, and, it is keeping your attention. Quickly, many questions are running through your mind, and then the storyteller adds the dimension of a giant fish swallowing the man whole. If you have not said it aloud, then your mind is screaming it, no one survives these environments. And, no one looks back on it, as Jonah did, and recounts, not only the story but details he would not have known.

I said to my wife; Jonah was dead! I expected nothing less than the response I got, as she said, how do you know that? My response came with just a few seconds of thought. Jesus, in response to the hostility and doubting of the scribes and Pharisees, said,

Matthew 12:39-40 NASB But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40) for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

To those that listened, the words, Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish meant nothing less than human death. But, Jesus added this into the mix, “so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”This statement may have been a mystery concerning Jesus predicting the details of His death, but NO ONE, buried for that length of time, comes back to life.

Why would this be such a startling statement to the Jewish crowd standing there?

As scribes and Pharisees, they would have studied Jonah’s prophetic actions intensively; they would also understand the tradition that says the soul leaves the body after three days. Jesus’ words to them were blatantly indicative of death, with no option of a comeback, short of God’s intervention.

Now, did they have an example of that kind of intervention on behalf of a dead man, absolutely, as Jesus caused His friend Lazarus to come forth out of the grave after three days? Can you see how intentional His actions were when He took His time going to Bethany where Lazarus was buried? How did the Pharisees react to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?

John 12:9-11 NASB The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10) But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11) because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.

So, if I have not made myself clear on whether Jonah was expired or not, let me do so now; Jonah was dead. Jonah, in his own words, describes the bars of Sheol, as he adds, you have brought up my life from the pit.

Jonah 2:6 MKJV I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was around me forever, yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God.

What other evidence do we have, such as associations with Jesus that prove Jonah’s death?

Psalms 16:10 MKJV For You will not leave My soul in hell; You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Isaiah 38:17 MKJV Behold, I had great bitterness for peace; but You loved my soul from the pit of destruction. You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Job 17:16 MKJV They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our descent together is in the dust.

Revelation 1:18 MKJV and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive forever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.

Jonah says the most amazing thing just before he blacks out.

Jonah 2:7-9 KJV “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8) They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9) But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”

Most will read this and say, what does that mean? To observe is to pay attention to, but there seems to be something more profound here. The Hastings Bible dictionary indicates that this old English word means to reverence. The ISBE expresses the idea of giving heed to, and yet, both of these references suggest an action that is more than a casual look; this is taking in the surroundings and letting them determine your outcome.

The Hebrew word for lying (shâv’) carries the ideas of desolation; evil (as in destructive), we can perceive (shâv’) as (ruin); however, It can also imply idolatry (as something subjectively false,) or uselessness (as deceptive.)

Dying because of stupidity, within the belly of a fish, could easily be seen as the ruin.
What if Jonah is telling us that he realizes that the circumstance he is in is a lie?
What if Jonah suddenly understands that to give this situation ownership of his mind and spirit would be to forsake an opportunity for God’s mercy?
In the position he now finds himself, his options are limited. But, God, much like a baseball manager, says, it isn’t over until I say its over.

Although this interaction, like so many other biblical events, comes across as though everything happening is mere seconds apart, that is not the case. Jonah’s “prayer” and the response from God, may have been three full days.

This revelation should be eye-opening. Keep in mind, that even though it seems that this entire skewed event had everything to do with Jonah. God had a plan all along to use Jonah’s death as a teaching moment before a bunch of skeptical Pharisees. Look once again at Matthew 12:39-40, if you miss my meaning.

You see, we all have those twists and turns in our lives. Some, however, are not so dramatic. For the most part, as you think about it, it seems that it was all your idea or a response you had to some selfishness. For example, my first marriage was based upon me showing the world that I could have a beautiful blond for a wife. I prayed “earnestly” for, and over that situation, and, I got what I wanted. Marrying her turned out to be a nightmare that pulled me away from God. As I look back on all of it, there is no doubt that God was directing me to where I am now. At this moment, I am sitting in front of a computer screen typing away, about the God I have come to understand. That would have only happened if I experienced life the way I did (no matter how uncomfortable it got.)

Let’s finish for the moment with a bit of good news.

Jonah 2:10 MKJV And Jehovah spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out on the dry land.

While I have demonstrated how and why Jonah would be Dead; Now what? Apparently, God

Jonah Cast Forth By The Whale, by Gustave Doré.

Jonah Cast Forth By The Whale, by Gustave Doré. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

raised him back to life, and we will see what happens next in chapter three.

Before I move on, I want to show you something else about Jonah that few ever see. Jonah, the man who committed suicide, a game-ending action in most people’s minds, is still alive, for a least a few seconds inside that fish. During that time we learn, in Jonah 2:3, that he cried for help from the depth of Sheol; and, he tells us that God listened.

How would Jonah know that God heard, and forgave him? In the same way, he heard the directive to go to Nineveh, through the spirit within; a spirit made in the image of God. That human spirit is the thing that calls out to the living God and longs to be reunited with its maker. There is nothing but our own lousy decisions and actions that separate us from God’s love. And, God’s love, is ever and always being poured out toward us. Jesus, on that cross, is the most heroic evidence of that love we could ever imagine.

Posted in bible study, Dispelling myths, false teaching, God's character, Hearing God, Hope, Jesus, Jews, Jonah, Jonah, judgment, Mercy, Prophetic, recovery, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jonah – Dispelling some myths. Chapter one.

Recently Jonah was used as an example in a talk someone was giving. The speaker noted the mercy of God for He preserved Jonah alive in that fish for three days. This example is just one of the vast derivations and assumptions on the Jonah narrative. Very few of them have any understanding of what happened, nor do they demonstrate the truths buried within the story.

Typically, our lead into Jonah comes from the book after his name, where it tells us:

Jonah 1:1-3 MKJV And the Word of Jehovah came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2) Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their evil has come up before Me.

However, that is not what Jonah did. Because of his actions, we make huge assumptions about the man and leave off pertinent information. Continuing with verse three we Jonah on a ship to Tarshish, hoping to get out of God’s sight.

3) But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah. And he went down to Joppa. And he found a ship going to Tarshish. And he gave its fare, and went down into it, in order to go with them to Tarshish, away from the sight of Jehovah.

Try to find maps showing Tarshish from the time of Jonah, and you will see that they are nonexistent. Most place the location of Tarshish on the Southern tip of Spain. These days, there is a town called Tarshish in Lebanon. That location, however, does not work for the story as Jonah was attempting to run in the opposite direction, and Lebanon would have been a rest stop along the way.

We have to go to another book of the Bible to find Jonah’s hometown and his familial background.

When we learn of Jonah in 2 Kings 14:25, it is as a side note in the life of Jeroboam, who restored the borders of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah. This act of rebuilding the borders of Israel takes on immense significance when you realize that Hamath was north of Damascus, and the region of Arabah was south beyond the dead sea. And, this action was foretold through a prophetic word given by Jonah. Since we know that Jeroboam lived from 793-752BC, then we can also assume that the restoration of the border of Israel would have been toward the end of Jeroboam’s life. With a minimal amount of research, we can understand that the word spoken by Jonah was before the restoration of the border.

2 Kings 14:25 MKJV He (Jeroboam) restored the border of Israel from the entering of Hamath to the sea of the plain, according to the Word of Jehovah, the God of Israel which He spoke by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

The passage explains Jonah to us as: “the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.”

I can understand this statement two ways:

  1. Jonah, a prophet, was the son of Amittai;

  2. Or, Jonah was the son of Amittai, who was also a prophet.

From 2 Kings 14:25, I can approximate about where Jonah was when he opted to catch a boat ride to Tarshish. Because Gath is in Northern Judah, it would have logical to find a boat ride at one of the local ports, and that is what we see.

This familial relationship is not that uncommon as many of the prophets were sons of the priest or high priests in the old testament; nor is it essential. However, their family backgrounds and education would have allowed for training in oratory skills and may have played a role in their ability to stand before kings.

When we look at the book of Jonah, the Expositor’s Bible commentary tells us that the date range is about 539-331 B.C and this would put Jonah in Nineveh long after the restoration of the border of Israel.

What we typically hear when we hear the name, Jonah.

Jonah is now on a boat ride to Tarshish to escape from God and his directive to go to Nineveh.

Albert Barnes commentary points out that, “It has been asked, “How could a “prophet” imagine that he could flee from the presence of God?” Plainly he could not. Jonah, so conversant with the Psalms, doubtless knew well the Psalm of David (Psalm 139:7,) “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, and whither shall I flee from thy presence?” He could not but know, what every instructed Israelite knew. And so critics should have known that such could not be the meaning.”

“How could a “prophet” imagine that he could flee from the presence of God?”, seems like a good question; the answer of which should have been understood by Jonah.

Dake’s commentary aspect of his Bible, tells us:

The book (Jonah) is a story of a bigoted Jew who, after being chastened by the Lord for disobedience, preached to and converted the whole city of Nineveh.

Bigoted seems like a harsh word, especially since I grew up during a time of intense racial bigotry.

Bigoted, – Means to be obstinately and blindly attached to some creed, opinion, practice or ritual; unreasonably devoted to a system or party, and illiberal towards the opinions of others.

What would drive a man to such hatred? J Vernon McGee, a man who had a doctorate in Theological studies, states:

Assyria was one of the most brutal nations of the ancient world. They were feared and dreaded by all the peoples of that day. They used very cruel methods of torture and could extract information from their captives very easily. … As an army, the Assyrians moved in an unusual manner. One of the reasons the Babylonians were able to overcome them was the slowness of the march of the Assyrian army. They took their families with them and had very little order in the army. They moved as a mob across the countryside. It is very easy to see that their disorder would militate against them. However, when they moved down like a plague of locusts upon a town or village, it is said that they were so feared and dreaded that on some occasions an entire town would commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the brutal Assyrians.”

2Kings and 2Chronicles both speak of years of tribute paid to Assyria, and how Israel went into captivity for generations at the hands of Assyria. Jonah would have been witness to much of this. To put it bluntly, they were cruel people and Jonah would rather have seen them dead.

If you believed that God would strike these people dead, why would this provoke your attempt to run from God? This logic does not make sense. However, if Jonah knew something about God that we are not privy to at this point, then we need to understand what that is because it is the most potent motivation behind Jonah’s attempt to flee from God’s mission. We don’t find out what this motivation is until the last chapter of the book.

Jonah 4:2 NET. He prayed to the LORD and said, “Oh, LORD, this is just what I thought would happen when I was in my own country. This is what I tried to prevent by attempting to escape to Tarshish! — because I knew that you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and one who relents concerning threatened judgment.

What evidence does Jonah have that God is prone to show mercy?

Exodus 33:19 NET. … I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.”

Psalms 78:38 NET. Yet he is compassionate. He forgives sin and does not destroy. He often holds back his anger, and does not stir up his fury.

Psalms 86:5 NET. Certainly O Lord, you are kind and forgiving, and show great faithfulness to all who cry out to you.

Being the son of Amittai, the prophet, Jonah would have been well schooled in the Torah and Talmud and knew the nature and character of God. This nature and character are concepts that are in complete opposition to the leader of the morning bible study, which, once again spoke of God bringing everyone, except for those who have accepted Christ under standard, strict oversight, before the great white throne and sending them to hell.

We now find Jonah out on the ocean, in a storm.

Jonah 1:4, 5 NET. But the LORD hurled a powerful wind on the sea. Such a violent tempest arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break up! The sailors were so afraid that each cried out to his own god and they flung the ship’s cargo overboard to make the ship lighter. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold below deck, had lain down, and was sound asleep.

Things that catch my attention here:

  1. Brenton’s translation – “and there was a great storm on the sea, and the ship was in danger of being broken.”

  2. NASB “Then the sailors became afraid, and every man cried to his god,”

  3. MKJV “And they threw out the ship’s articles in the ship, into the sea in order to lighten it.”

  4. NASB “But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.”

The fact that each sailor cried out to his god says a lot. This action is contrary to what we see in the world we live in now.

Jonah 1:6 NASB So, the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Sleeping? There was little he could do above deck, for Jonah was not a sailor. He was, however, a man of God, with particular skill sets. Having the captain approach him might not be that unusual, but then I am projecting forward to modern standards where there would have been an insistence upon wearing a life vest, but not in this era; safety standards would have been minimal at best. What does the captain say? “Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.” It was surprising, years ago, to hear how common it was in India for a family to express worship to many gods, Jehovah, being one of them. Much like you might see in gambling, they are just hedging their bets to protect against the odds that they chose the wrong god.

Jonah 1:7 NASB Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

This is no different than gambling. How odd that the dice would point to Jonah. God uses the most unusual methods and people to convey His message.

Jonah 1:8 CEV They started asking him, “Are you the one who brought all this trouble on us? What business are you in? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”

A highly superstitious lot, maybe not so much. Having done some fishing, I like to take bananas as a snack. They are a self-contained, clean food; so easy to open, and filling. However, the men who work the boat, and those who fall prey to superstitions, start crying foul as they believe that bananas bring bad luck. Hogwash!

I cannot read these next words without hearing them come forth with authority and power.

Jonah 1:9 CJB He answered them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear Adonai, the God of heaven, who made both the sea and the dry land.”

Watch their reaction.

Jonah 1:10 CJB At this the men grew very afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done?” For the men knew he was trying to get away from Adonai, since he had told them.

Pay attention to this eye-opening statement. “For the men knew he was trying to get away from Adonai, since he had told them.” I checked multiple commentaries trying to find something that told me who the author of Jonah was, for it does not make sense. Look, I am not a grammarian; I use a paid aid to correct my grammar, but I picked up on the fact that the book is written in the third person. If you were writing about yourself would point out the flaws? Maybe not, most historians were selective about the information they gave us. Based on what we see in verse nine, there is no indication that Jonah revealed why he was here. We, as church-going folk, don’t like to acknowledge our flaws, and yet, there it is, and he told them.

Jonah 1:11 CJB They asked him, “What should we do to you, so that the sea will be calm for us?”—for the sea was getting rougher all the time.

They asked him, …What should we do to you?” They had no clue. What if this man’s god is as ominous as some have portrayed? Throwing a man overboard did not seem to be high on the list of things to do. Jonah’s answer.

Jonah 1:12 CJB “Pick me up,” he told them, “and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will be calm for you; because I know, it’s my fault that this terrible storm has come over you.”

Whoa. Think about this a moment. They may be lost at sea for all we know, with no hope of swimming to land; they are being pushed severely by winds, and battered by waves to the point that the boat is close to destruction. Whatever load they were hauling, is now lost, and anyone going into the ocean will be lost and dead in a matter of minutes. I can appreciate the brevity of this, having experienced several overnight fishing trips myself; one skipper decided to inform us that, “in this chop, even with the deck lights on, if someone does not have eyes on you in the water, we will not be able to find you, and you will drown!”

This may be hard for most readers to handle, but Jonah asked the crew to assist him in committing suicide.

Does he care about the potential outcome of his actions? Considering what he has already done, foolishly deciding to run from God, and, making it clear that he does not want anything to do with the Assyrians, I don’t think so.

What does the crew do? They tried to ignore Jonah’s ludicrous request.

Jonah 1:13 CJB Nevertheless, the men rowed hard, trying to reach the shore. But they couldn’t, because the sea kept growing wilder against them.

The crew rowed harder. Still, the conditions got worse.

Jonah 1:14 CJB Finally they cried to Adonai, “Please, Adonai, please! Don’t let us perish for causing the death of this man, and don’t hold us to account for shedding innocent blood; because you, Adonai, have done what you saw fit.”

Somewhere in this process, the crew had made their decision. They knew Jonah would die.

Jonah 1:15 JPS So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging.

Issues we need to address at this point.

  • I mentioned deck lights, but, as you can imagine, they had none. The description of an incident I experienced, happened around eleven P.M., making the telling of the story relevant to the passengers who stood at the aft rail, in rough seas, while underway, and necessary for safety reasons. But there is nothing in the story that tells us it is nighttime. What we do have is Jonah going below to sleep; this leads us to believe that it was night.

    Having experienced seasickness, the way I fought it off was to go to sleep in a bunk. Did Jonah have seasickness and therefore slept? We don’t know. I am merely pointing how quickly we make assumptions. Assumptions will get us in trouble, and we are trying to avoid misunderstandings.

  • So, let’s assume it was daylight. A boat, large enough to have two decks does not equate to an ocean-borne freighter, and so a safe assumption would be that it was getting tossed about like a toy. We have no information about the size of the crew and therefore might have been simply a captain and two crew members. Nonetheless, having a man go into a rough ocean like this, would have meant his death.

  • So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging.”

    Translations range from ceased, to immediately. If the sea stopped immediately, why then did they not get Jonah? An obvious answer is that they made the correlation between their problems and having the man onboard.

    But then, why do we get large choppy waves on any body of water? Disturbances, primarily from the wind. We know that they were experiencing a brutal wind storm. So, what stopped? The wind, and we recognize that they saw the correlation between throwing Jonah in the water and the wind stopping. However, it was going to take some time for the water to return to its normal rolling condition. Regardless, Jonah could not and would not survive. And yet, it seems he did. We will pursue that soon, in the next chapter.

Even in the midst of our worst decisions, God still comes through in unusual ways.

Jonah 1:16 JPS Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

The men, seeing how the God of Jonah, had an immediate impact on the weather, feared the Lord exceedingly. A small portion of Gill’s commentary reads, “they feared him, not only because they saw his power in raising and stilling the tempest, but his goodness to them in saving them. Think this entire scenario through for a moment.

  • Because one man runs from God and His mission, it would seem that God is willing to kill everyone on the boat.

  • Jonah effectively asks the crew to kill him, and, in time, they do. Does God show anger toward anyone involved? No.

  • Since Jonah is apparently dead, the weather lies down. The crew of the boat sees a correlation between tossing Jonah in the sea as the effect on the wind is immediate; the waves, not so much. Regardless, the crew now make commitments to the God of Jonah.

What is it that we do when we come to the Lord?

  • We demonstrate some faith in Jesus Christ, the one who paid our debts in full.

    Some might regard this motion of ours toward God, as something done out of fear of the Lord. While it is true that many promote coming to the Lord out of fear, this “fear” we speak of is more of respect. The crew of the boat indeed found great respect for the Lord they did not know, that day.

  • The crew “offered a sacrifice unto the LORD.”

    Look at the context of the words once again. NASB “Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.” The word sacrifice – is to slaughter. If this all happened on the boat, what was left to slaughter?

  • And, under the religious umbrella, we make our own vows.

    For example: We make a commitment to the Lord, much like we do in marriage. However, we all know that commitment is only as strong as our backbone. Fortunately, Jesus side of the commitment is built on a stronger foundation; a sin free foundation, and therefore He says things like – I will never leave you or forsake; Or, speaking to the Father, he says, “all that you have given me I have kept, and, “no one can take them out of my hand.” Strong words I realize, but nonetheless true.

It is is not clear to me who wrote the book of Jonah, for I can see that it is written in the third person dialogue (as if one had been standing back watching and is now telling you what they saw.) If Jonah wrote the book in that manner, as most agree he did, is he then merely taking for granted that this crew (we assume they are gentiles) changed their hearts and suddenly offered up a sacrifice to God. We make these leaps of assumption because:

  • Jonah came from the same area as the Philistines, and therefore these people must have played a role in his life. All assumption.
  • In trying to escape from God he catches a boat in Joppa. But no one bothers to fill in the blanks as to where Joppa is.
  • We assume the captain and crew of the boat are anything but Jewish, however, there is nothing to define them, and we cannot rule out the possibility that are Israelis. The only evidence we have comes when they all prayed to their own gods to be saved out of the storm.

We assume that these were not Jews because of the varied gods to which they prayed, but wasn’t that Israel’s problem from the day they left Egypt? We see evidence of their attachment to idols as one of the first things they did was roast their children on the altar Aaron built to the god Moloch. I realize that most of you refuse to believe that, but it was Stephen (of the New Testament) who makes this fact clear as he addressed the Jewish council prior to their having him stoned. (You will find all this in Acts 7, specifically verse 43.) When Balaam was asked to curse Israel, God told him not to, but he did take the liberty of telling king Balak that if you introduce the good-looking women from the surrounding nations, Israel will take them in, and will be destroyed from the inside out as they adopt the other gods these women bring with them. (Numbers 22)

In trying to understand Jonah, I am reminded of Moses. Moses is said to have written much the of the books of the Law in the third person, but not all. If Jonah were dead he would not have known about the actions these men took. Anything we say to define what exactly happened is merely conjecture. What does seem feasible, is that God, like he did with Moses, saw fit to relate many aspects of this story to Jonah or some other author. We then must chose to believe, as we did with the books written by Moses, and find, as the crew did, the awesome God, who shows mercy, and responds to prayer.

Posted in bible study, Dispelling myths, God's character, grace, Hearing God, Hope, hypocrisy, Jews, Jonah, Jonah, judgment, Mercy, Prophetic, strongholds, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Maybe God is trying to tell us something? A prophetic word from 2007.

On September 9, 2007, I sat down to write in my journal. It is something that I did sporadically. I often wish I journaled on a regular basis because looking back shows me things that: are still important, and, how far I have come.

In 2007 God had been speaking to me quietly, and I could not get comfortable enough to give this word to the body. I am going to try it now.

“Why do my people think I have to speak to them as though they were Ken and Barbie dolls, living in a cute, perfect world.

I am going to disrupt their lives just as I disrupted Israels.

My entire purpose and intent is meant to drive you to me, for I am a jealous God, and I desire your attention.

I, like a child playing with dolls, am going to mess up your environment.

I wish for your heart, but all you have given me is your hand, so now I will get your attention.

Know that my desire is to commune with you in intimate fellowship. A fellowship that causes you to hear my voice and walk in the paths that I choose.

But you say, God does not talk to me, for I am.

You ask: What about my condition?; my age? Or, my position in life?. Many will say, I am broken.

What is that to me? I made you who you are, and I did it for my purpose. Keep in mind that if you were the only one, my desire would have been for you.”

When I read this today, all these years later, I was prompted in my spirit, to post this Word, as it still applies.

I might add, it occurs to me that this post has a correlation to the post I put up this morning entitled, The Act of Fixing my eyes on Jesus, based upon Hebrews 12:1-2.

Maybe God is trying to tell us something?

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Hebrews 12:2 The act of fixing my eyes on Jesus. An edited repost.

This idea of fixing my eyes on Jesus will not let go of me.

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The KJV puts it this way:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;”

The Greek word for fixing or looking is aphorao and means to consider attentively.

To be honest, I have a problem with this idea of looking, because it implies distance, and distance suggests that I can never get close to God. Some churches I have been a part of, with their superstar pastors, have demonstrated what it is like to have a leader that is untouchable, and I have had more of that than I can stand. I have also, because of choices I made, experienced infidelity in marriage and divorce. The battle I had to fight was learning that God did not act like the people who have created false imagery in me. While God may never leave me, I sometimes wonder how embarrassed He is with how I talk or act. In the worst of conditions I have never experienced any distancing toward me on God’s part, but I can assure you I have felt significantly distanced at times. There is no doubt in my mind that this distance I felt was because of my selfish indulgences.

The NET version says: “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,..” This version has pulled in both concepts; keeping our eyes on Jesus, and the idea of our fixation upon Him.

Why would you fix your eyes on something?

Detectives do it because they are on the hunt for something. Artists study or set their eyes upon a subject so that they can capture what they see. We, as believers, are told to fix our attention, vision, thoughts, and emotions upon Jesus because I believe that God wants us to live in a state of peace that passes understanding.

To be filled with peace, at a time when it is illogical, passes my understanding. Yet, having read this, and desired it, I find it easier to comprehend knowing that was God in the situation, though I did not know it, and He only wanted good for me.

Hebrews, the faith book, is meant to train us and establish us with the benefit of a solid information, and believable eyewitnesses. If I could equate this life to a trial, the evidence for the prosecution would be overwhelming and beyond a reasonable doubt. In reading Hebrews, I find out that the peace I just spoke of, requires faith, and is wrapped up in my faith.

Is it my faith or God’s?

I suppose both. I have to exhibit some degree of faith in the process of accepting my position within the family of God; I have to act in faith upon God’s promises to me to live in this world; And, God has placed His confidence in me that I will succeed and join Him in eternity. Example: There was a brief time in my life that I was keenly aware of a tremendous faith for healing.

How would I know that? I was a shy person who for the longest time was very timid. Speaking out boldly, or placing my hands upon someone for healing, would have been out of character for me. However, in several circumstances, I saw God’s hand at work in extraordinary ways. Here is where the faith aspect comes in. God’s word tells us to lay our hands on the sick, and they will recover. There is no emotion needed in that, merely obedience. The faith part is acting and letting God do what he said he would.

“Not with bodily eyes, for at present he is not to be looked upon in this manner, but with the eye of the understanding, or with the eye of faith; for faith is a seeing of the Son;” ( John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Having read several commentaries on the passage, I agree with Gill. I believe that the intent is to focus on Jesus at all times and in every circumstance, but that seems impossible to do. When I was at work, I was barraged by customers, to the point that I barely had time for a thought of my own.

Where and how do I squeeze God into this hectic scene?

I know I am not alone in this struggle, because it is a human struggle, and it does not take a detective to realize that few people invest quality time with God to the degree that He becomes predominant in their thinking. For me to say, I am looking at Jesus with the eye of my faith makes it sound like I am very spiritual, although I sometimes wish I could be like Enoch and simply walk off the earth, that will never happen. In reality, this ability to stay focused on God seems to imply some act of our inward man that can operate aside from the circumstances the body is experiencing. What we are talking about here could be nothing more than the ability to reason, and that ability to reason would have to include the mind, would it not?

For the skeptics who think this inward man talk is something new age, I give you Paul’s own words.

2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB 16) Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

If you consider our beginnings then this inward man idea may make more sense. In Genesis 1:27 we see God creating man in His image.

NASB “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

God’s image is a spirit, therefore the man was a spirit, and, just like the Father, eternal. We don’t see a body on the man until Genesis 2:7, after the completion of the earth.

John 4:23-24 NASB “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

This plays a role in our understanding of death as well, for the spirit never dies. Since the spirit never dies, then how did Adam understand this death that was to come upon him should he partake of the forbidden fruit? Because of the eternal nature of the spirit, death, in one regard, would have to mean eternal separation from the Father God. God, in the form of Jesus, had no intention of allowing that to happen as long as He could do something about it, and therefore, through Christ’s activities in “death”, we were redeemed. Paul, in Ephesians, speaks of a mystery.

Ephesians 1:6-9 NASB to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8) which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9) He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.

It is almost overwhelming when you let it all sink in.

It would seem that the spirit, which wars against the flesh, can function independently of the body.

Galatians 5:17 NASB For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

If that is the case then I should be able to have a conversation with you and the Father at the same time. In truth, I am not that good. If I have too many conversations going on at the same time, then someone is going to lose in the battle for my attention.

I believe that Paul was speaking to this distinction between the spirit and the flesh when he wrote:

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 1 Corinthians 14:14 NASB

Perhaps I am missing the point. It may be that Paul is saying that the spirit bypasses human reasoning. I have never been able to pray in the spirit without involving my mind, as something had to initiate this conversation. That does not mean that if I am praying in the spirit (that means praying in tongues to me,) that I am always keenly aware of what I am praying, but I always have a general idea.

Do not despair at the apparent futility of this exercise of the tongue for James tells us that God gives wisdom to those that ask. Is he talking about understanding everything that you might say in tongues? Probably not, but at least we have the opportunity to understand a great deal of what we say in tongues.

Since the topic had to do with fixing our eyes on Jesus. I think we have found that there is so much more to this simplistic phrase. Fixing my eyes on Jesus entails all of me, body soul and spirit. And, the spirit wants to take a well-needed advantage of the desire to commune with the Father. Now, this is where I could move into an entire teaching on aspects of our communications with, not only the Father but the body of Christ as well.

Back to my struggles with fixing my eyes on Jesus (A funny thing happened as I wrote this. I slipped up and wrote ears instead of eyes; I have since fixed that error. Why that might be funny is because if we could hear what God is saying, and respond, then maybe we would be walking as Enoch did. We have no evidence that Enoch saw God. So then, any seeing would have been by faith. Hearing, on the other hand, is a different story altogether.)

So, as I was trying to deal with the continual onslaught of customers at work, I could at the same time be praying in the spirit on the inside If I can pray in the spirit, then I can have communication with the Father at the same time too. I think it would primarily be Him talking to me.

The trick in this is to fine-tune your listening skills.

You should be aware that there are too few of us that have any clue how to listen to others. With your insight, you picked up on something. How does one fine-tune their listening skills so that God becomes the focus? Prayer, which is merely conversations you are having with God, often on behalf of others; that, and spending time in His word. The words that God uses currently, are no different in theme, from those he has already spoken. Trust me on this one, God can speak your language. How many translations of the Bible are there?, many, and yet He has brought innumerable lives into the family by speaking their language or slang. There is always the skeptic who does not believe that God speaks all the time. While God is not just incessantly rambling to hear His head rattle, as we often do, but there is a purpose in everything He says.

Keep this in mind as you read your Bible; everything in that book has a purpose. For example, why does the Gospel of John emphasize things like the cloth that was folded so precisely in the tomb (there was a reason); why is the trip to Samaria a three-day journey?; Why did Jesus go to the Samaritans, they were effectively Gentiles, and going there was contrary to his stated mission? There are things that all throughout the Bible that seem like nothing and yet the Jewish leadership believes that when the Messiah returns (he already did) that he will explain even the spaces between the letters; they are that serious about God’s word. If only we were that serious about His Word as well.

Posted in author, bible study, comfort, finisher, fixing, Hebrews, Jesus, looking, Peace, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

David and Goliath – Dispelling some myths.

We all have versions of the David and Goliath story in our heads. In our men’s group, we are reading Max Lucado’s book Overcoming your Giants. In the first chapter the author talks in odd descriptives about a young David, but the focus centers on how long we have been fighting our own giants. Max Lucado, at one point, details what some of those “giants” might be. Things, such as pornography, loss of income, whiskey, anger, drugs; you should be getting a general idea.

I, like several others in the group, found myself focusing on the physical aspects of the David story. For example, Max Lucado speaks of young David bending over the stream to collect throwing stones. He continued by saying, if the water had been calm he could have looked longingly at his youthful, handsome face. Instead, David quickly gathered five, smooth, flat stones for his belt bag. Max. Lucado embraced his ridiculous reasons for picking flat rocks. This idea of collecting flat stones was one of the places where I stopped and said, WHAT?, as I found myself thinking, this guy has never shot a slingshot because you want the smoothest and roundest stones you can get. There is a practical reason for this, as anything else will do strange things, like curving away from the target when you sling them. This factor alone would have meant death for David, as he might not get a second shot. I am also aware, from video shot in Israel, that the Palestinians still have people who can accurately launch larger stones from long, leather slings, which is what David used.

One of the men in the group asked the question, how big do you think David was? I immediately answered, 6 foot 4 inches. As you can imagine, that response got met with hostility and rebuttal. The person that asked the question, then said that is impossible since David, having had the armor placed on him, could not even pick himself up off the floor. Responses like this one about David, make me wonder where we get the garbage we are willing to spew out of our mouths as Biblical literacy. It also proves that the individual making the statement is unwilling to read the Bible for themselves. Sadly, all this unbridled talk was meant to educate and impress the fellow sitting next to me, a man who has only been a “Christian” for three weeks.

I have shared my understanding of David, the young man who killed a bear and a lion, and how and why I think that he was a tall, well built young man with a handful of people. But, because our traditions are so deeply ingrained, I am typically met with resistance. A friend of mine asked, where do you get this information. I will tell you, but you must know, it is not all in one place, and, you have to apply some logic and put flesh and blood on these Biblical people; after all, we are not reading fairy tales, now are we.

When we first meet Saul, the man that was to become the king Israel demanded, he was looking for the donkeys of his father, Kish. 1 Samuel 9:3-6

Saul, aware that there was a man of God living in Zuph, opted, along with his servant, to go this man for “all that he says surely comes true,” and they were going to ask him about the donkeys. That man was Samuel, the prophet. What they did not know, was that God had a plan, and had already been talking to Samuel about Saul.

1 Samuel 9:1-2 NASB Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. 2 He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice, and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.

God, always has a plan, and these donkeys played a role.

1 Samuel 9:15-16 NASB Now a day before Saul’s coming, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel saying, 16) “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over My people Israel; and he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have regarded My people, because their cry has come to Me.”

So, now you understand, to some degree, how and why Saul was anointed the king of Israel. What I left off, because, at the moment it had nothing to do with Saul becoming king, is his overall appearance.

1 Samuel 9:1-2 NASB Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. 2 He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice, and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.

The message translation tells us, “he literally stood head and shoulders above the crowd!” So, there you have it. You cannot merely assume that the tallest man in Israel was only three and a half feet tall. There had to be large men, like myself, who stood six foot four inches tall. Therefore the probability of King Saul being seven foot tall or taller is reasonable.

How tall was David? We are not given that information, so what do we know about David, the son of Jesse?

When we first meet David, Samuel has been sent to anoint another man king over Israel. While there was a time when Samuel could boldly speak into King Saul’s life, that time had passed. Saul was wallowing in a bipolar depression on a frequent basis and was no longer fit to be king. In Samuel 16 we see Samuel having a conversation about the task God has asked him to perform.

1 Samuel 16:1-13 NASB Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” 2) But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3) “You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”

Stop here for a minute. Samuel knows that he is a dead man if Saul finds out what he is about to do. His instructions so far are clear, but there is no indication, other than being a son of Jesse’s, who this young man is.

4) So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” 5) He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.”

I am interrupting here, to point something out. Note the reaction of the city elders, they came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” Assuming this is all you know about Samuel, what reason would they have to fear the God-man? However, they still remembered when Samuel hacked up king Agag, whom Saul, had taken captive, in direct opposition to God’s orders.

He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

Jesse, having been given instructions by Samuel off stage, brings in the older, mature sons to present before Samuel. Jesse, by-the-way, has no idea what is about to happen, he merely assumes that it will good for one of them. Samuel, may not know Jesse, nor how many sons Jesse has.

6) When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is before Him.” 7) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 8) Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9) Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 10) Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.

Jesse brought them in, one at a time, from oldest to youngest, but he did not bring David. Why? Could I presumptuously say, it was because David was just a little boy, too young to serve, nor understand what would be asked of him? No, we don’t have enough information to make that kind of decision. What we should realize is that there was a birthright order to be followed, and the firstborn son always got the most significant and best share; at this point, Jesse is merely following Jewish guidelines. In Jesse’s mind, Samuel should have been done with the first son. Perhaps this gives you a little more insight into the hostility David received from his brothers when, under orders from his father, entered the battle zone.

10 cont.) But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11) And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.”

You still have nothing that tells you his size, or age. All we know is that he had been tending sheep.

11 cont.) Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12) So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance.

Let’s look at the words used to describe David:

  • Ruddy – Hebrew word ’aḏmôniy: An adjective meaning red, ruddy. At best, with this information, we can assume he was a redhead with freckles.

  • He had beautiful eyes: The Word Study Dictionary indicates that the Hebrew word yāp̱eh: Is “an adjective meaning lovely, beautiful. It is used in many settings to describe the beauty of various things and persons: of women (Gen_12:11, Gen_12:14; 2Sa_13:1; Est_2:7). It is used to indicate a healthy appearance (Gen_41:2). It may be used to mean good-looking, handsome of young men or adult males (2Sa_14:25).”

  • Or, he had a beautiful Countenance, as some translations state. The Hebrew word ‛ayin is the word for eyes. So his eyes played a role in his attractiveness.

  • And goodly to look at – The Hebrew word is ṭôb and means pleasant and agreeable to look at. Nothing here gives us a description that assigns age or stature. So, I nothing with which to determine an age yet.

Again, nothing that gives away his age. One more thing. We, love to speak of God holding no one accountable until the “age of maturity.” It’s not a bad standard, and it sure let’s many ten-year-old children off the hook for their role in gang murders. However, you will not find that concept in the Bible. It is purely a Jewish tradition. If I could apply it to God’s acceptance of David, then the young boy would have been older than twelve. Your problem when attempting to use that logic is that God is not the least bit concerned with the traditions of men. Besides that, if we are using only the word of God for our argument, you will find that God did not use this tradition to make His decision.

Let’s finish off the selection 1Samuel 16:1-13.

12 cont.)And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13) Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

After this, Samuel fled for his life; now, wherein these passages did you find the description of a child of 12? You didn’t, did you?

Our next piece of testimony, for the defense, also comes from 1Samuel.

1 Samuel 16:14-18 NASB Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. 15 Saul’s servants then said to him, “Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. 16 “Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.”

What can I gather from this?

  • First, there is nothing to indicate how much time has passed since Samuel anointed David.

  • Secondly, Saul’s servants went out seeking a MAN who is skillful at playing the harp.

  • Thirdly, without looking, one servant volunteers some information about David, whom he has seen. So, we have eyewitness testimony.

  • Fourth, note how this man describes David: A mighty man of valor; a warrior; one prudent in speech; a handsome man, and, as a bonus, the Lord is with him.

At this recommendation, David is hired. What do we see next?

1 Samuel 16:19-23 NASB So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the flock.” 20 Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread and a jug of wine and a young goat and sent them to Saul by David, his son. 21 Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. 22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

  • Verse 21 tells us that David came to Saul and attended him.

  • Saul loved him greatly

  • And, David became Saul’s armor-bearer.

Once again we have conclusive evidence that shows: David was not a little boy; that Saul knew David well, and that David was very acquainted with Saul’s armor.

The word familiar, as used in this context, would imply that David knew how much it weighed, how it went on, and what to look for as he concerned himself with damage. He not only carried it but polished it as well.

There can be little doubt that Saul knew full well who David was when he returned that day to fight Goliath. Considering how close Saul and David had become, and what his job was, causes me to have even more questions about his brother’s reactions to him. I cannot see what they said as anything less than jealousy. Some time passes, but we do not know what the length of time was.

We are now looking a 1Samuel 17 where we are introduced to Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:1-7 MSG The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. They deployed them at Socoh in Judah, and set up camp between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes Dammim. 2) Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. 3) The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them. 4) A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. 5) He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor–126 pounds of it! 6) He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. 7) His spear was like a fence rail–the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.

As you read through commentaries, you find statements such as no one in Israel wanted to commit suicide by facing this guy. Goliath, knowing full well the fear he imposed upon Israel and their now weak-kneed king, was devastating.

1 Samuel 17:9 NASB “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.”

Other translations use the word slave. It is not difficult to imagine the fate awaiting Israel. Israel, on the other hand, had standards for keeping slaves and servants, and abuse was not allowed. The word slave is the Hebrew word ebed. The Word Study Dictionary defines ‛ebed in this way:

A masculine noun meaning a servant, a slave. Although the most basic concept of this term is that of a slave, slavery in the Bible was not the same as the slavery of modern times. The period of slavery was limited to six years (Exo_21:2). Slaves had rights and protection under the Law (Exo_21:20). It was also possible for slaves to attain positions of power and honor (Gen_24:2; Gen_41:12).

There was nothing to indicate that the Philistines would abide by Israel’s standards.

Although the Philistines would come forward on a daily basis, shouting taunts, it seems the entire verbal exchange was between David and Goliath that day. However, there is this:

1 Samuel 17:16 NASB The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand.

I had wondered why Saul acted like he did not know David that day, when in reality Saul loved David, and as his armor-bearer saw David frequently. Scripture tells us that David went back and forth between his father’s sheep and Saul.

1 Samuel 17:15 NASB but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem.

David had returned that day at his father’s direction.

1 Samuel 17:17-20 NASB Then Jesse said to David his son, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers. 18) “Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them. 19) “For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.” 20) So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry.

I have never had a clear image of how and why David’s brothers had such a caustic interaction with him. Perhaps this verse explains that.

1 Samuel 17:22 NASB Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers.

He entered the battle zone. Since he is on a mission from dad, then, with his brothers gathered in one place, he may have been asking obvious and foolish questions.

1 Samuel 17:23 NASB As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them.

Suddenly everything changed.

1 Samuel 17:24-25 NASB When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. 25) The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.

It is safe to assume that David heard what they said, but he had to ask once again, perhaps for verification.

1 Samuel 17:26-27 NASB Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” 27) The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, “Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.”

David asked, “what will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?” I can perceive this two ways: 1. He is referring to one of the troops, or, 2. He includes himself among the men that day.

When we were going over chapter one in Max Lucado’s book, Facing Your Giants, the point was made that David said this phrase “the armies of the living God” or something similar, at least eight times. My take away, was that our focus in the midst of facing our giants is to give God and his power, the emphasis, instead of emphasizing the problem.

1 Samuel 17:31-33 NASB When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. 32) David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33) Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.”

There is a noticeable age difference, but there is nothing about this statement that turns David into a whining pre-teen. When the job came open to play the harp, they were looking for a man; they found David. When David was presented as the perfect candidate, he was pitched as a man, a mighty warrior, and a valiant man. What changed? The reality that all of Israel’s life was at stake here. If David loses, they all become slaves to the Philistines.

Since Saul now refers to him as a youth let’s see what the Hebrew word means.

nâ‛ûr The Word Study dictionary states: It refers to the early stages and years of a person’s life and the experiences and characteristics of that time: every person, all humankind experiences this time of life (Gen_8:21). It is a time when skills are best learned (Gen_46:34); a time of dependence on parents (Lev_22:13; Num_30:3 [4], Num_30:16 [17])

Therefore, considering David too immature is only a presumption on our parts. Why would I say that? Because the man giving the references for David says, tells us he is, “one prudent in speech.” Webster’s dictionary defines prudence in this manner:

Prudence implies caution in deliberating and consulting on the most suitable means to accomplish valuable purposes, and the exercise of sagacity in discerning and selecting them. Prudence differs from wisdom in this, t

David and Goliath ( )

David and Goliath ( ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hat prudence implies more caution and reserve than wisdom, or is exercised more in foreseeing and avoiding evil, than in devising and executing that which is good.”

Having fought off a bear and a lion, I would say that David was skillful at combat, but men are slightly different from animals, as they can carry spears and slings as well. So, David expounds upon his resume by giving Saul the details.

1 Samuel 17:34-37 NASB But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35) I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36) “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37) And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.”

At hearing this, Saul says, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” If there was an implication of David a small boy, putting Israel’s life into the hands of a giant, it just went out the window.

Posted in 1 Samuel, bible study, David, David and Goliath, Dispelling myths, false teaching, Goliath, Hearing God, Hope, King Saul, Philistines, strongholds, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lightning, voices, and thunder – edited part two of two. Revelation 11:19

Jesus, the Messiah that came as a lamb and offered himself up as our sacrifice, told us that in this world we would have tribulation as an ongoing aspect of our lives. While discomforts come in many forms, such as illness, distress, or finance, the real grief seems to come from religious folk, and if Jesus, Paul or Stephen (of the New Testament) are our example, then lynching, beatings, and death at the hands of these zealots are a possibility. Take the time to read 2Corinthians chapter 11. In it, Paul gives considerable detail about the things that happened to him and takes pride in the fact that he could bear the marks of Christ.

Tribulation, many of you are up to your necks in it, and I pray for your strength and courage. But know this, as followers of the risen one we have an unquenchable hope, and that is an eternity in the arms of Love himself, God the Father. I long for that day, but until then, I attempt to explain what is coming upon the earth, and perhaps, warn those that will listen so that they may avoid the horror that is yet to come.

What is the context of what John sees here in chapter eleven?

  • In verses one and two, the temple has been given over to the nations.

The Complete Jewish Bible calls them, the Goyim. In the Jewish mindset, this indicates idolatrous outsiders. Since the Jews give little consideration to Christianity, we too may be included in this thought process. Since the rapture has taken place and the church is removed from the earth, the focus here in Revelation is on those who are utterly contrary to God’s laws. The primary group that fits this descriptive is Islam. This trampling of God’s ways, and what is thought of as, God’s temple, goes on for forty-two months – three-and-one-half years.

  • In Revelation 11:3 we see this: God places two witnesses in the middle of Jerusalem. Revelation 11:3-12. Read this passage intently, as it is eye-opening, and the actions of these two are almost played in reverse when the false-prophet comes on the scene.

When the scene opens, the CJB says, “also.” Also indicates that there is a multitude of things happening at the same time. As you saw in the first point I made, the temple is given over to the nations. The ramifications of this event are beyond belief, especially when you consider how

English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician

English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

strongly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about the strength of Israel. Many Israelis think they are invincible, and that is not the case.

As you will see in a moment, the two witnesses are called back home. Since their “ministry” lasts three-and-a-half years, there is only one logical place to insert them, almost immediately after the catching away of the church.

  • God will call these two witnesses back home after they have laid dead in the streets for three-and-a-half days. This time period is hugely significant and is the same number days that Jesus was in the grave. We, however, know that no tomb could hold Him, but to the Jews this was precise.

We are told in Revelation 11:14 that this ends the second woe, and now a third is coming. How could things get any worse? While still within the framework of, “what is the context of what John sees?”, we have this section which takes us up to verse 18 of chapter 11.

Revelation 11:15-18 NASB 15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18 “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

What we see here in Revelation 11:15-18 is extremely condensed.

  • We have to jump forward to chapter 19 to see Christ, sitting upon the white horse and a flaming sword coming out of his mouth. It is with this sword that He subdues the nations. But this does not happen until the end of the seven-year period, and we are presently looking at the midpoint so far.

The Messiah is in control, and yet not.

Luke 22:69 Jesus, speaking of himself, said,

“But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.”

Paul, in Ephesians 1:19-20, is describing Jesus when he says,

and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,…”

This line, “and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe,” was not a question, Paul is telling us what God had done in the process of raising His son from the dead.

Does the fact that Christ is sitting on the throne ruling, and yet, has a rule that is still to come, imply that Christ is not in control right now?

Not at all, for nothing is out of his control, and all things are going according to His plan, even when it makes us uncomfortable or looks like it is out of our control. He is seated upon that throne as we speak, and yet, there is coming a day when the totality of government will come. In the meantime, we watch the plan being played out.

As I talked about the events of verse 18, I indicated that the outcome described applied to the end of time. But, as you read, you are frequently thrown back in time and then abruptly brought forward again, such as we see here. Why do that? Because all time is His, and it is all under His control. Another way to perceive this is that it is a revealed mystery, as scripture calls it all, “the day of the Lord.”

  • Yes, Revelation 11:15-18 speaks of a judgment of the nations, and Christ, upon the white horse brings much of that about, but, it is not the final judgment, as my legalistic friends think. This final judgment happens at the Great White Throne, which takes place at the end of the thousand-year reign.

    But make no mistake, neither of these events is a final, concluding judgment, for in both cases, which are spelled out in Matthew 25 and Revelation 20, there are those that are shown mercy. Matthew 25 most clearly spells out the fate of the sheep – those from among the nations, that acted in the character of God by exhibiting kindness in the smallest of ways.

As usual, that was a bit long, so allow me to jog your memory by showing you from where we came.

Revelation 11:17-18 ESV (17) saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. (18) The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

There is a line in verse 17 which says, “for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” If I focus on this from a Jewish mindset; one in which Jesus reigns as the recognizable Messiah, then what we see in John’s writing is precisely that. This idea of reigning is what Israel thought they were going to see that day He rode into town on the young colt – the luxury vehicle and ride of kings. But did he take control and overthrow the Roman oppressors? No, He began overturning tables in the courtyard of the Gentiles and arguing vehemently with the elders, scribes, and Pharisees.

When we read the letters that comprise the lion’s share of the New Testament, we see events that had to take place. Things like His going into the depths of hell; stripping Satan of the keys to death, hell, and the grave; preaching to the captives and releasing them; and, His ascension into the heavens. These truths come from various places in scripture, and yet, put together, tell the whole story. Colossians 2:12-15; Ephesians 4:8; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 1:18; Hebrews 1:3.

At this point in the timeline, things are falling precisely into place.

The world, as we know it, is finally at peace. Christ is seated as the Messiah and the martyred saints, an innumerable quantity of people, have been raised from the dead and are set upon thrones to maintain peace. Weapons are quickly being turned into farming tools, and thrones are set up to keep order and rule over the earth. Why, under the rule of the Messiah, would anyone dare to carry out some form of an uprising?

But you must remember that, contrary to popular religious belief, not everyone is arbitrarily slaughtered and sent to a burning hell. Many from among the nations enter the millennial reign with their free wills intact.

We are finally in verse 19.

After all that introduction the question I find myself asking is, when does this event we see in Revelation 11:19 take place?

Revelation 11:19 ESV Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

If what we see here is a demonstration of God’s glory and power, then the beginning of the time of wrath is the perfect time to show the world those attributes, as they are descriptives of many of the things the earth will experience during the seven years.

Two persons stand out in my mind as I read this, Daniel and the Apostle Paul when he was known as Saul. Both apprehended God’s voice, but those around them only heard what sounded like rumblings and peals of thunder.

Albert Barnes commentary explains that “The vision was of the temple the symbol of the church – and it was “opened” so that John could see into its inmost part,” and that may be true. As you transition from Revelation chapter three into chapter four, there are the words, “after these things.” The implication is, after the church age. This idea would cause Albert Barnes commentary to sound very logical.

But the focus throughout the eleventh chapter is primarily on the last three-and-a-half years of the tribulation.

Will God fling the doors to the temple open and leave them that way for the entire period?

Maybe, and maybe that is none of our concern. If I have been raptured with the church, then I am in heaven with Jesus, and this is nothing worthy of worry. I am not saying I do, but because the things we talk about in our gatherings of the body scare and concern the newer Christians and those who prefer to let some administrator read the Bible for them, then someone needs to be able to answer these questions intelligently. No doubt that within the seven-year period horrible things happen, but it all comes to an end someday.

A quick overview of what transpires during the seven-years of wrath.

Immediately after the church is removed from the earth, the judgment begins. This removal of the righteous from harm’s way has direct ties to the ruling God brought upon the earth in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27.)

Jesus never said, this period, in which all the things that happen will be bad migrating rapidly to worse, will be the tribulation. What he did tell us was that it would be bad, and at the mid-point, there will be great tribulation. It is non-stop horror during the seven years. However, it will get so much worse from the halfway point on. Jesus said it would be so intense that unless God shortens time no one would survive. (Revelation 4:1; Matthew 24: 21, 22)

If you look at Revelation 7:14 you will notice that the speaker uses the phrase great tribulation, but it does not classify the seven-year event as “The Great Tribulation.” It is merely pointing out a time of severity.

Revelation 7:13-14 NASB 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

This seven-year period is also clearly established as a time of God’s wrath and anger against the nations and Israel.

As you read the Revelation, the things that begin to happen are also categorized as being a part of the seals; the trumpets; the bowls and the vials. There is a tremendous amount of death, shaking, fire, and destruction.

  • First seal judgment – Revelation 6:2 ESV And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

  • The second seal – Peace is taken from the earth. Rev 6:4

  • Third seal – Widespread famine. Rev 6:6

  • Fourth seal – Massive casualties over a fourth of the earth: from the famine, pestilence and predatory wild beasts. Rev 6:8

  • Fifth seal – Tremendous numbers of God followers will be merciless martyred.

  • Sixth seal – A devastating earthquake, accompanied by severe cosmic disturbances. People everywhere try to hide. Rev 6:12-17

  • Seventh seal – Results in the unleashing of the trumpet judgments, which are even more catastrophic.

A man that scripture calls: the anti-Christ, the beast, the Assyrian, and a number of other things will show up. The anti-Christ will be charismatic and well-spoken (I believe that he will be Islamic). Islam calls this man the Mahdi, a long-awaited prophet of Allah. He will bring Israel into a seven-year peace treaty. (Why would Israel sign a peace treaty unless there is a significant issue with peace. Here we are five years after I wrote this piece originally, and finally, things seem to be escalating for Israel. There are now the threats are almost daily from Iran, Syria, Turkey Hamas, PLO, and others; and yet, Israel still acts like they are well defended and secure.

Something drastic is going to change all that. Ezekiel 38,39 describes armies amassed against Israel, and a firestorm from the God wiping those armies out. Where exactly this fits into the seven-year scene, I am not sure. Joel Rosenberg portrays this happening right before the rapture of the church [You can read a description of this in his book The Copper Scroll.] Since the players are rapidly falling into place, I cannot imagine why this does not happen any day now.


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