September 24, 2007
Obadiah - Jonah
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- The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
- Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
- The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
- Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
- If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?
- How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!
- All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.
- Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?
- And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
- For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
- In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
- But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
- Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;
- Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
- For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
- For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.
- But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
- And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.
- And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
- And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
- And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.
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- Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
- Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
- But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
- But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
- Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
- So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
- And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
- Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
- And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
- Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
- Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.
- And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
- Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
- Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.
- So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
- Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
- Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
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- Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,
- And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
- For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
- Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
- The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
- I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
- When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
- They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
- But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
- And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
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- And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
- Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
- So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
- 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.
- So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
- For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
- And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
- But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
- Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
- And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
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- But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
- And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
- Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
- Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
- So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
- And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
- But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
- And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
- And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
- Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
- And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
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Thought for the day:
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The story of Jonah is a very familiar one, yet it presents many interesting issues. Some people tend to keep their focus solely on Jonah being swallowed by the whale, but this is only one aspect of the story. Despite what the theological liberals may say, Jonah was indeed swallowed by a great fish. The proof for this is two-fold. First of all, this is what God said happened, and since our holy God is incapable of telling a lie, then this must be what occurred. In addition, Christ Himself used Jonah's time spent in the fish's belly as an illustration of His own death and resurrection (Matt. 12:40). Thus, the story is completely accurate.
There are numerous other parts of this book that are worth observing. First of all, it is important to note that even in the Old Testament God was concerned with other people besides the Jews. We know that they were (and are) His chosen people, yet the book of Jonah is about the evangelization of Gentiles. Not only were the Ninevites not Jews, but they hated the Jews! The Assyrians would have liked nothing better than to overthrow the nation of Israel and take control of it. This is at least part of the reason why Jonah didn't want to go there (4:2). Yet God in His compassion for all mankind sent Jonah with a message of judgment. That message did it's work, and the people of Nineveh repented, from the king right down to the lowest man in the city (3:5). Some may say that God is not interested in the salvation of all mankind, but this book proves that it not the case. He is
"not willing that any should perish" (II Peter 3:9),
and desires to save all who will come to Him; even those who have persecuted him in the past. Saul is a New Testament illustration of this principle. Often we seem to think that we should only evangelize people who are just like us, and we neglect those of different ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds. When we see someone who's speech and lifestyle indicate an opposition to God, our tendency is to shy away from that person because we see them as being "unwinnable" or somehow outside of the grace of God. This is not the case, and the story of Jonah proves that we need to take the Gospel message even to the most hardened cases.
While we are on this subject, we should see the message that Jonah delivered. It was not a message that "God loves you just as you are and wants to do great things for you". It was a message of judgment. He informed the citizens of that great city that God knew all about their sin and that He was going to punish them for it. This is the message that an unsaved world needs to hear from believers today. Men have a sin problem, and their iniquity is going to result in an eternity in the Lake of Fire. God has provided an escape through Jesus Christ, but man must choose to accept it.
It is also good to understand the extent to which God will go to get His will accomplished. He could have simply called another prophet to go to Nineveh, but He wanted Jonah, and He saw to it that Jonah was the one to go. He put Jonah in an incredibly difficult position and left him there until he was willing to acknowledge that God and His will was the only thing that matters. God's will is going to be fulfilled, and it would do us well to obey it the first time rather than go through His process of "persuasion".
Finally, Jonah's rebellious attitude reveals the thoughts that many have towards evangelism. Jonah really didn't care if a city with 120,000 small children in it came to the Lord, but he cared greatly when his own comfort was inconvenienced by the death of the gourd (4:6-10). His priorities were obviously skewed, but I believe ours often are as well. We can get worked up about things that have no eternal consequences, and become very careless about the souls of men. We may need to take stock of what really matters to us in this life.
Let's allow the messages of Jonah be ones that we hearken to today.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery