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Archive for the ‘Biblical Studies’ Category

Whether or not you believe Jesus Christ was who he said he was, you cannot deny the fact that he was. Without going into C.S. Lewis’ “liar, lunatic, or Lord” illustration, the one thing that you cannot deny is that there is evidence that a man named Jesus lived and existed around the time that modern Christians believe he did, that he was killed by crucifixion, and had followers. While a person can claim that there isn’t evidence for the existence of something (though in the case of Jesus there is definitely evidence) you cannot claim that something did not exist with any certainty.

One of the first things you must understand when researching anything from historical documents as old as the Bible is that there are cultural and linguistic differences that may need to be accounted for. I will attempt to explain those where necessary, and provide further links to the information.

The Census

The argument I saw most recently against the existence of Jesus was “there is no record of a census being taken around Jesus’ birth!”. This article gives a detailed answer, but the short answer is: Yes, there was a census. It appears that there were likely multiple censuses (censi?) that were taken throughout the land at varying times. There are papyrus scrolls referencing a Roman census taken in Egypt also. Another part of the complaint of these “history deniers” is the existence of a particular governor, Quirinus. The objection seems to have to do with the timing of when he served as governor, but some evidence shows that the man may have served twice, allowing for him to fit into the timeline in accordance with Luke’s detailed account. Some have suggested that Luke was attempting to make a distinction between the census we know Quirinius took in AD 6 from the census that Mary and Joseph were participating in. (Read the article for more detail).

Accuracy of Names, Titles, Locations

Next, a look to the validity of the timing of the scriptures. Gallio (proconsul of Achaea, Acts 18:12-17) and Lysanias (tetrarch of Abilene, Luke 3) are both mentioned and their timing questioned, that is until inscriptions were found at Delphi and Abilene (respectively) that tie them together.

In Acts 19:22, Erastus is named as a Corinthian who becomes a coworker of Paul. When Corinth was excavated, an inscription was found near the theatre and read “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid the pavement at his own expense.” They could easily be the same man, and it would explain why a wealthy citizen who converted was mentioned. Luke also gives the correct titles for several other officials.

Confirmation by Secular Historians

The next argument presented is that there were no “contemporary sources” that confirmed the existence of Jesus, which is flat out false.

The Gospel accounts were written within 40 years of Jesus’ death by eyewitnesses and by people who knew the eyewitnesses. Paul, for example, records meeting Peter (the disciple) in the book of Galatians. He also was known as a persecutor of the Jews; why would he need to persecute people who followed someone who did not exist? More importantly, if Jesus’ resurrection was made up, why would people willingly die for something they knew to be a lie? Since the accounts of the eyewitnesses (and others) are demonstrably historically accurate, and the mention of individuals correct, we have little reason to doubt the existence of Jesus. (Look here for links and info on historians — most of whom reject the theory that Jesus was a myth.)

Tacitus was a Roman historian (AD 55-120). He made at least three references to Christ. In the first he explains how Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that burned Rome:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reighn of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. […] Covered with the skins of beasts, they were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illimation, when daylight had expired. (Ibid, p. 51)

Note that it mentions Christians (why would they exist if not for Christ?), references the basic points of Christ’s death, and the superstition Tacitus mentions is likely to be that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead.

Christ is also mentioned by a Roman Satirist named Lucian, the chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian who was called Suetonius, and a Jewish historian named Josephus. All of these historians present the death of Christ and the belief that he rose from the dead as a belief followed by Christians, nothing more or less. They do not attempt to refute it — after all, if a body had been found, would it not be mentioned? (They also do not state that the man did not exist or that his followers did not.) Particularly since the Christian believers were such a large number that they were mentioned by historians, satirists, and secretaries — it is likely that the refutation of the belief that had caused such difficulty for the Romans would have been proclaimed loudly.

Though the Gnostic gospels are not books that should be relied upon as accurate sources of information about Jesus’, his life, or his theology, they do help us to understand history in light of the Gospels. These Gnostic gospels were written primarily by men who pretended to be biblical apostles, and they agree that Jesus existed, though they felt the need to build and modify the story to suit their needs (indicating that He wasn’t simply a myth they could ignore).

In addition to the written evidence, there are inscriptions after the time of Jesus resurrection declaring unusually harsh punishments for disturbing graves. It is suggested that this may have been in response to the claim of Jesus’ resurrection. The method of Christ’s death is also verified by ancient burial sites in Jerusalem where the bodies of crucified men were found and the injuries consistent with the description found in the Gospels.

Massacre of the Innocents

It seems that this is one event that there is limited evidence for (though that, in itself, does not prove the non-existence of Jesus or that the Gospels were faked). Josephus mentions other atrocities of Herod, particularly his violent ones, but not this one. Some have argued that the murder of his two sons may have set such fear in the people that they believed he would kill their children as well. Others believe that a decree was issued, but then retracted and never carried out. Historian Raymond Brown (and others) argue that, based on Bethlehem’s estimated population of 1,000 at the time, the largest number of infants that could have been killed would have been about twenty,[15][16] and R. T. France, addressing the story’s absence in Antiquities of the Jews, argues that “the murder of a few infants in a small village [is] not on a scale to match the more spectacular assassinations recorded by Josephus”.[17] Here is another article referencing the possibility of this event. Let it be known that the absence of one (potentially small, comparatively) event, does not disprove the entirety of Christ’s existence.

Note: Much of the information used here was taken from Norman Geisler’s book When Skeptics Ask. It is an excellent source of answers to questions that people often have, and provides many footnotes and references to support the answers given. (Chapter 9 alone has 22 footnotes!) Please check this book out from your library or order on Amazon.

 

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Recently someone posted an image on Facebook that was entirely inaccurate, in more than one way. The image claimed firstly that the Old Testament of the Bible is in Greek originally (it is not, it is in Hebrew!) and secondly claimed that the verse in Leviticus where it says “man shall not lie with man as he does with woman” uses the word for “little boy” as the second instance of man. The two words are different words in Hebrew, but the second word is used to mean male. That means any male. The poster was trying to argue that homosexuality was acceptable in the Bible and that there was nothing against it. What our conversation finally came down to was the fact that this person did not like that someone thought their actions (and the actions of those they loved) were sinful and worthy of punishment. Let me state here that all sin separates us from God, in His eyes there is no sin that causes more or less separation from Him than another; however, there are some sins which God will punish more harshly than another. Only He knows what will happen on the day when we die and go to meet Him.

 

During the course of our conversation, this article was shared. It was appalling and inaccurate, so I determined to set the record straight. I spent more than an hour researching and trying to do justice to the questions the woman had posed. I did not thoroughly read the article (mostly because it started with insults and lacked journalistic integrity), but I skipped to the verses they took issue with and found the answers o the questions they had. Below is my response. I did not quite every passage or give the reference, you will have to see the articles to find the references specifically.

 

http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/02/07/abominations-you-could-be-committing-one-now/comment-page-2/#comment-1263465

 

This article is incorrect. The things that are listed as an abomination are things like rape, adultery, homosexuality, the creation of idols, dishonest business practices, cross dressing, divination, etc. (Most of those should at least make sense…) The verse in Deuteronomy 14 about what animals you should eat does not say that the pig is an abomination, it says it is unclean, which is an entirely different Hebrew word than the one translated as abomination.
The verse about not eating shellfish is again a separate word from “abomination”, This word is only used in relation to foods that they were not to eat. It is also translated as “detestable” or “unclean.”

 

Please realize that there are particular portions of instruction that were meant for the time of the Israelite’s wilderness wanderings and not later. Even after Jesus’ arrival and the declaration that the old law (and much of the food laws) had been done away with, many Jews still chose to practice the traditions. They also tried to force the Gentile believers to follow these laws, even though Gentiles were not required to follow them (according to the New Testament).

 

The Exodus verse about being put to death for working on the Sabbath has nothing to do with “abominations”. In this case, God had granted the people a day to rest and this day was to be holy and consecrated to the Lord (as holy as any other thing that was devoted to the Lord). Violating that holiness was essentially like spitting in God’s face. The reason why we stopped putting sabbathbreakers to death I can’t tell you, but it seems to be generally agreed upon that people who break the Sabbath by working on it will be judged in the next life. Not all consequences or punishment are immediate. Another general principle people seem to disregard is the intent of the command and the intent of the law. The Sabbath was made for man, as a day of rest; man was not made for the Sabbath. It was the Pharisees and religious leaders who added all of the extra “rules” about the Sabbath, which Jesus broke (to an extent). He told a man to pick up his mat (something the Jews considered work) and at another time his disciples picked individual grains to eat. The command for rest on the sabbath does not mean that we cannot do anything, but that we should not be laboring on the Sabbath. This is why picking up your food or serving a meal on the sabbath would have been acceptable, but gathering the wheat and threshing it etc. would not have been.

 

The Isaiah verse is out of context, it is not the incense itself that is abominable, it is the double standard of those who practice wickedness yet come to offer God incense as a ritual, with hearts that are far from him. When we read to understand something we must also read to understand the culture, the linguistic connotations, and the context of the passage.

 

Finally, the Revelation verse. The Greek word that is here translated as “abomination” is only used 6 times in the New Testament (as compared to the 120+ times the OT word was used). The outline of BIblical usage seems to refer mainly to idolatry. Two verses refer to “the abomination of desolation” (thought to refer to a person or force that would destroy Jerusalem). In Luke it states that “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” Revelation talks of a “cup full of abominations” and a woman who is the “mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” What exactly these last two mean is uncertain to me, perhaps it is a metaphor for being filled with detestable things that you propagate.  The final verse of Revelation, 21:27, is often not quoted to the end: “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Nobody who has committed abominable acts will enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless the blood of Christ has been applied to cover the debt for their sin. That means that anyone who has accepted Christ’s gift of salvation is clean. If the worst person in the world were to ask Jesus for forgiveness on their deathbed He would be forgiven and enter Heaven right alongside the sweetest saints.

 

My initial concern was with the inaccuracy of the image, but it seems that your main argument is either personal, trying to justify the actions of others that the Bible considers wrong, or mislead, thinking that Christians don’t know that they have sinned. We all do bad stuff, I am just as guilty of sin as anybody else, from Hitler to Mother Theresa. Jesus died for that sin; yours, mine, and everyone’s, because any sin at all would keep us from His presence and from enjoying heaven.

 

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In many conversations and religious discussions I have heard people condemn Christianity and Christians because some passages in the Bible make it appear that rape is acceptable. The proof scripture that is used most frequently is found in Deuteronomy 22:22-28. Here I will share the scripture and give my rebuttal.

“22 If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. 23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you. 25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, 27 for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her. 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[b] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”
The word shakab that is translated “rape” in the Deuteronomy 22:28 means “to have sexual relations with”, “lie with” etc., and does not indicate forced intercourse. The verse gives the idea that they slept together consensually and were being secretive and then they were discovered. The word translated “rape” in Deuteronomy 28:30 (“You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her.”) is what we would actually define as rape, or being violated. That word is shagal The woman in verse 28 was to be married to the man who slept with her because she had been humiliated, she was not betrothed to a man, and would never be allowed to marry or have a “normal” life otherwise. The man is punished in a way as well because he cannot divorce her, nor can he marry another woman.

Don’t forget verses 25-26 “But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death.” This instance uses shakab “to lie with” but says previously that she was “forced” or “prevailed upon” (depending upon the translation) to sleep with him, so it indicates that she was probably unwilling but it is not clearly stated (he could have convinced her to do it willingly). The man is stoned because he slept with a woman who was not his betrothed; though she might possibly have been willing there is no way to tell when they were alone in the countryside, and even if she had screamed no one would hear to come help her. If, however, he sleeps with a betrothed woman in the city and she does not scream, both are to be put to death for committing adultery.

Another verse referenced is 2 Samuel 2:11-12: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

David’s punishment is essentially that the same thing that he did to Uriah will be done to him. Because David had Uriah killed and secretly slept with his wife, David was going to have the same thing done to him, except in public knowledge; he will see and know that his women are being loved (shakab) by other men. It says nothing about rape (shagal). Some have noted that God has caused the women to commit adultery. I would argue that he did not cause it, but simply allowed it. But that is another story.

 

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So many problems could be avoided in life if we would simply tell the person that we’re upset with that there is something wrong. Most of the time in life it seems that someone is angry about something for months and the person they’re upset with doesn’t know until the thing explodes. Life could be even more simple if people would just forgive others in the first place. Unforgiveness and grudge holding is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Furthermore, if the person we’re upset with doesn’t know that they have hurt you, how can they fix it? There are some people in my life, who are adults, who refuse to talk to me when something upsets them. It’s as if they expect me to read their minds! Don’t do this to your friends, family, children or your spouse. It’s childish behavior and it does not lead to reconciliation. Go to the person who has offended you, tell them why you are offended, and then choose to forgive them. It’s simple, it’s right, and it will bring you peace.

I leave you with a few verses on forgiveness:

The Bible tells us to forgive others. Not when we “feel” like it, not because we want to, but because He has forgiven us and He has commanded it. Jesus tells us that we should forgive an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18). We are told to “put up” with one another: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)

We are told to forgive because we have been forgiven. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And in Mark 11:24-25 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Luke 6:37 tells us “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

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In the last part of “Cause and Effect”, we looked at a dramatic example of the consequences of a few poor “personal” choices on the part of a college-aged guy. Here I will give some examples of how to make better choices and why. This is a work in progress and will hopefully be completed within the day.

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“Salty and Bright?”

(audio coming soon)

 ‘“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how [a]can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a [b]hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a [c]basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:13-16

Introduction: are you a person of INFLUENCE?

  • We all have influence over others in our daily lives, and others often influence us as well. What kind of an influence are you?

Proposition: In Matthew 5:13-16 we discover how we fulfill our responsibility to the world.

I. By being SALT to the world. (v. 13)

  • Salt has several effects:
    1. In Jesus’ time salt was used to preserve meat: after having salt rubbed into it the meat (i.e. the world) will continue to decay, but through our Christian example we can slow the decaying process. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
    2. It creates thirst: As Christians, our life should create a thirst for something more, a thirst for a relationship with Christ. Nonbelievers should look at us and say “wow, I want what that person has.”
    3. Adds Flavor to dull foods: As Christians we should add “divine flavor” to an otherwise dead and lifeless world.
    4. Used to clean wounds: our saltiness should sting others when they see us doing good. It should prick their conscience and move them toward good works and repentance. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
    5. A useful article I found: http://www.struggler.org/Salt.html

A. A VALUED commodity that is also useful.

    • Salt was an exceptionally useful and valued commodity in Jesus’ time. It was used primarily as a preservative for food and was so highly valued that Roman soldiers were sometimes even paid in salt. (This is where we get the phrase “Not worth his salt.”) In fact, the same root word that we get our word salary from is the same root for salt. There was a saying at that time that only the sun was more valuable!
    • WE are a valuable commodity to God! We can be used greatly to further His kingdom and bring glory to His name. He has a plan for each of us, and a specific location that he has placed us in, with something he has called us to do. (See 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4)

B. We must MAINTAIN our saltiness.

  • In our day, salt does not lose its saltiness; however, in Biblical times their salt contained many impurities and could in fact become un-salty. When this happened it was no longer useful for its original purpose, but could still be used to spread over walkways to make paths less slippery.
  • “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” If you have failed in your mission to be salt to the world, don’t worry, you can be useful for trampling!
    • There is also a metaphor in the fact that their salt had impurities that would cause it to decay: if we allow impure things to sneak into our lives it will cause us to lose our saltiness. Ephesians 5:3-5 tells us: “But immorality [c]or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among [d]saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no [e]immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Read the verses in context.)
    • We must use our saltiness to “season” our unsaved friends. We should not be seeking intimate fellowship with nonbelievers (that’s what Christian friends are for) but we should influence them positively. When we begin to be influenced by them and by their actions, we are not being effective witnesses for Christ.

II. By letting our light SHINE in the world. (vs. 14-16)

    • Light has always been a symbol of truth, purity, and the divine presence. In artwork divine characters are often presented with a halo of light, and a ray of light might serve to illuminate a pure character or an important moment.
    • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16 (context).

A. Fulfilling our PURPOSE. (vs. 14, 16)

  • What is the purpose of light? In Biblical times candle light would have been their only light source. The light of a fire or candle had two main purposes:
      1. To dispel darkness: Consider this passage. Really READ it, and don’t just gloss over it. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them;  for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 [f]trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even [g]expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are [h]exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:6-14
      2. To create heat: Revelation 3:16 is the famous passage about being lukewarm. As Christians we should be HOT for God, and we should spread that warmth to all who step within the rays of the light we shine.

B. We must remain VISIBLE. (vs. 14-16)

    • We must be bold and speak up for our beliefs, and not hide our light. We must speak up against injustices, strive to right wrongs, and refuse to participate in activities that go against the call of Christ. (Things your friends will tell you “aren’t that bad.”) (See 2 Corinthians 3 and Acts 4:31)
  • Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
    • People around us should literally SEE a difference in our lives! The Good Word without good works is useless. (James 2:20)
    • “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)
    • “You are the light of the world. A city set on a [b]hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt 5:14). In Biblical times the cities would often be built of limestone, which would reflect the lights of the city against the walls. How brilliant and beautiful that must have looked! The city would have been very visible, even from a distance, and so should we be.

C. So that God is GLORIFIED. (vs. 16)

    • “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
    • 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    • Philippians 1:9-11 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may [g]approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless [h]until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
    • Often the divine moment in our life that affects others for God’s glory might be disproportionate to what we perceive the moment to be.

Conclusion: Don’t miss the divine OPPORTUNITIES to influence others for HIS glory!

Thoughts to Consider:

  1. 1.       Am I giving a visible example to my non-Christian friends and associates?
  2. 2.       Are any of my activities, hobbies, interests, or things I find amusing a negative example? Do some of my actions reflect poorly on Christ and His image and His church?
  3. 3.       Are there any impurities in my life that might be causing me to start to lose my saltiness?
  4. 4.       What is one thing I can start to change this week to become a better light to the world and salt to the earth?

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“Yield”

Knowing God’s Will Part 2

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

  • Introduction: The exercise of His rule or SUPREMACY over all His creation.
  • Proposition: In Jonah 1:4-13 we will examine God’s sovereignty at work in fulfilling His plans.
  1. By Using UNBELIEVERS  (vs. 4-10)
    1. a.      To AWAKEN Jonah from sleep to prayer (vs. 5-6)
  • Notice that Jonah had not been praying, even in the midst of the terrible storm. Jonah was a prophet, and he knew that God would not hear his prayer as he ran from Him and committed the sin of disobedience. (“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Psalm 66:18)
  • The unbelievers were praying to their gods and nothing was happening, but they knew Jonah to be a prophet of God, and asked him to cry out to the Lord. They recognized God’s sovereignty, and that he was a powerful God.
  • Thought to consider: has there ever been a time in my life when a non-believer asked me to pray for them because they knew that I was a Christian and thought God might heed my prayer to help them?
  1. b.      To CONFRONT Jonah’s disobedience. (vs. 7-10)
  • Jonah’s behavior was irresponsible: he brought calamity upon others through his disobedience. “What have you done?” they asked(vs. 10). They knew he was running from God.
  • Thought to consider: Has MY sin ever caused someone around me pain or inconvenience? If I love God, why am I still doing _______________?
  • When the sailors cast lots to see who had caused the problem, the lot fell to Jonah. God even used an inanimate object to point out his sin.
  • Jonah refused to go witness in the place that God had called him to, and so God used him as a witness to the unbelievers on the boat!
  • As Charles Spurgeon said, “God never allows His children to sin successfully.”
  • Thought to consider: has God ever used a non-believer to point out an area of sin in my life? “If you’re really a Christian, why do you ________?”
  1. By using the WEATHER. (vs. 4, 11-16)
  • If you do not listen to the whisper of God’s voice, he may have to stir up a storm to get your attention!
  1. b.      STIRRED up a storm (vs. 4, 11-14)
  • God had given him a direction, as he gives many of us an “impression” of what we need to do, but far too often we continue to row our own way in our little boat to escape God’s commands.
  • As the night progressed it became increasingly stormy. Even in the storm God calls us to “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”(Psalm 46:10)
  • “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
  • God has you under the umbrella of His will. If you step out from under His umbrella, you WILL get wet.
  • Psalm 107
  1. c.       CALMED the storm, resulting in reverence. (vs. 15-16)
  • The unbelievers saw the result of Jonah’s actions, how God calmed the storm when Jonah was thrown overboard: “At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.” We do not know if this means that they gave their lives to the sovereign Lord, but we do know that God used this situation to touch their lives, and these pagan sailors reverenced Him. God even used Jonah’s disobedience to reach people!
  • Many times in life God may not calm our storm, but God will always calm the faithful believer to get them through the storm.
  • God promises that we will have trials in life, but He has overcome them. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • He has also promised that he will never leave us: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence,’The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?’”
    (Hebrews 13:5-6)

 

  1. By using a FISH(vs. 17)
    1. a.      APPOINTED a fish to swallow him.
  • God had a very large fish in the right place at the right time, so that it could help Him complete His plan to save Jonah. When Jonah was thrown overboard he probably thought He was going to die. And STILL he didn’t pray.
  • In Numbers 22 God even used a Donkey to save Balaam’s life, and finally the Donkey had to SPEAK to him before he would listen.
  • Thought to consider: Have I ever known that God was trying to speak to me using someone/something, but purposely ignored it? How much tribulation do I have to go through before turning to God in obedience?
  1. b.      PRESERVED for His purpose.
  • God saved Jonah, both from himself and from the trials associated with running away from God.
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  • God wanted to save Nineveh, and he wanted to use Jonah to do it. Jonah, in his half-digested state, would have been an effective witness to the Ninevites.
  • You can never escape God’s plan, only slow it down for a while.
  • Conclusion: are you yielding to His sovereign will?
    • Do not forget God’s sovereignty! In the old testament, God told the Israelites to set up markers at certain places so that they would remember the good things that God had done for them. What good things has God done for me that I should remember?
    • Thought to consider. Man often acknowledges God as supreme over all creation, but not over man. Am I guilty of this type of thinking?

 

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
you who are now far from my righteousness.
13 I am bringing my righteousness near,
it is not far away;
and my salvation will not be delayed.
I will grant salvation to Zion,
my splendor to Israel.

Isaiah 46: 8-13

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