Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday - Jonah 1 - An Unwilling Prophet



G
OD told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach. Instead, Jonah began to run from God.  Now, going to Nineveh would have been a long trip. But it wasn't the trip that bothered Jonah. He evidently hated the Assyrians that lived in Nineveh. How strange. He claimed to fear God, but he had no regard for the people who (at that moment had the most to fear from God. God was ready to destroy Nineveh for their sins (Jonah 1:2).  But Jonah didn't care. It seems that Jonah even considered death to be a better fate than having to preach to the Assyrians (Jonah 1:12).

Anyway, Jonah was running from God, and he knew it (Jonah 1:10). But God knew it too (Jonah 1:4). Running from God is more ridiculous than running from your own shadow. Jonah got on a ship headed for Tarshish, the opposite direction from Nineveh. And, as they sailed, he went to sleep in the belly of the ship. But God sent a storm to wake him up (both physically and spiritually).  Next thing we know, Jonah is overboard & in the belly of a whale.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday - Obadiah 1 - What did Esau See?



E
SAU was the father of Edom and Edom lay close to the Jew's land. They lived to the southeast of Judah on the southern border of the Dead Sea. Of course, we know that they were close to Israel in another way. Of all of the ethnic groups in the whole world, the Edomites (descendants of Esau) were the closest to being Jewish (without being Jewish). They had a common ancestor, Isaac. Isaac was the father Jacob and Esau. Jacob became Israel, and Esau became Edom (also called ldumea). But that is where the commonality ended. Israel became a great nation with many godly citizens throughout its history: Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Solomon, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jesus, etc. Edom became an ungodly nation who hated God and hated His people. So, what did they see? Judgment! (see also Ezekiel 35)

While God did give land to Esau (see Joshua 24:4), he also rejected him and his descendants (Romans 9:11-13). Here in Obadiah, God declares great wrath against Edom. While they were only a small nation (when compared to the nations and empires that surrounded them) they received some extra attention and scrutiny from Jehovah (Obadiah 1:2). Perhaps it is because of their geographic and familial proximity to Israel. Of all peoples, they (and to a lesser degree the Moabites and Ammonites to their north) should have been most familiar with Judaism, and with the true doctrines of Jehovah. They should have been proselytes. But they were not. They were heathen. So, a whole book (albeit a short one) is devoted to their condemnation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday - Amos 9 - Destruction & Grace



T
HERE is a great destruction that is planned for Israel. Yet, in contrast, God will also pour out great grace upon Israel (Amos 9:11-15).  So, which one is it, destruction or grace? The answer is, both. Amos was forecasting a time of great misery for the Jews, followed by a time of incomparable peace.

When God decides to execute justice, there is absolutely no way to hide from His hand. As Amos 9:2-3 teaches plainly, not only is God omnipresent, but He demonstrates His omnipresence with incredible clarity when He starts judging rebels. He always sees us, and He can always reach us (Amos 9:8).

One of the most marvelous things about God's wrath is the precision of it. There are never accidental consequences of His anger. There is no collateral damage. As Amos 9:9 points out, not one grain of wheat is lost, yet every worthless piece of chaff is burned. Even in the Bible stories where it seems that some of the characters are simply smashed in the story of the main character, without regard to their own story, we can be sure that God had their interest in His heart as well. We don't have the tale of what God was doing in the lives of Job's children when they all died as a result of the testing of Job’s faith, but we can be sure that if we only had their story and not the record of God's interactions with their father, the narrative would make just as much sense. God does work on a macroeconomic scale, yet even in that, He is always dealing with every single individual as if his or her life story was the only one being told. Every sinner pays his debt eventually (Amos 9:10), and every faithful servant is rewarded eventually. God never says oops.