2-3-13-1-Jesus and Jericho
The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule is laid down as the summary of the whole teaching of the Law. It involves complete self-giving. It is pointed out that it is not what we say about our loyalty to God that counts, but doing his will and that alone (Matt. 7:15-28). We should concentrate on all we can do to show our love for God and others. We also see it in the following quote.
(Matt. 22:36-40)”Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Jesus answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
By Jesus, definition, what kind of “Lover” are you?
(Luke 14:25-35) provides us a parable which illustrates that the service of God is costly and demands sacrifice. All the quests who were invited had good reasons for staying away, but none of them was prepared to put the obedience of God before his own private concerns. It is this lesson which our Lord reinforces on the cost of being a Child of God and the necessity for self-renunciation.
Now is the time to trust Him. Give Him your life. He will love you like you have never been loved before.
You would like to feel that there is a God who is interested in you of course, You don’t want to make any big mistakes that will mess-up your life.
Suppose you are ready to call God’s bluff! Suppose you are willing to give it a trial. How does God, become real to you? “What do you do?”
Well He wants lives – all or nothing. He wants your life committed to Him now – not tomorrow.
When you do, you will be home. You will know for yourself His warm and wonderful love, how he will guide you, and help you, give you joy you have never had before.
It is important to listen to what God’s word says, but it is much more important to obey it, do what it says.
Jonah Book Overview
Israel had just restored her Northern borders under King Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.), as Jonah had prophesied. At this time, Israel was politically secure, spiritually smug, and morally corrupt. Nineveh, the city to which Jonah was sent by God, was the capital of Assyria. Assyria was a ruthless empire which threatened tiny Israel, and eventually conquered it in 722 B.C. Nineveh was 500 miles east of Joppa, but Jonah boarded a ship heading 2000 miles west, revealing how far and fast Jonah wanted to get away from a people he dreaded. Israelites had many reasons to hate the proud Ninevites, as Nahum points out in a prophecy likewise dedicated exclusively to the Ninevites. Nineveh’s repentance and revival under Jonah was short lived. The second time around for proud, cruel Nineveh resulted in her fall in 612 B.C. She was never heard from again.
|793 b.c.||Jeroboam II becomes king; Jonah becomes a prophet|
|792||Uzziah (Azariah) becomes king of Judah
|785?||Jonah preaches to Nineveh|
|783||Shalmaneser IV becomes king of Assyria
|772||Ashur-dan III becomes king of Assyria
|760||Amos becomes a prophet
|754||Ashur-nirari V becomes king of Assyria|
|753||Jonah’s ministry ends
|722||Israel falls to Assyria|
|Purpose:||To show the extent of God’s grace—the message of salvation is for all people|
|Author:||Jonah son of Amittai|
|To Whom Written:||Israel and God’s people everywhere|
|Date Written:||Approximately 785-760 b.c.|
|Setting:||Jonah preceded Amos and ministered under Jeroboam II, Israel’s most powerful king (793-753 b.c.; see 2 Kings 14:23-25). Assyria was Israel’s great enemy; it conquered Israel in 722 b.c. Nineveh’s repentance must have been short-lived, for it was destroyed in 612 b.c.|
|Key Verse:||“But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” (4:11).|
|Key People:||Jonah, the ship’s captain and crew|
|Key Places:||Joppa, Nineveh|
|Special Features:||This book is different from the other prophetic books because it tells the story of the prophet and does not center on his prophecies. In fact, only one verse summarizes his message to the people of Nineveh (3:4). Jonah is a historical narrative. It is also mentioned by Jesus as a picture of his death and resurrection (Matthew 12:38-42).|
He had every right to run (he thought). Why should he go to that stinking city? He hated the place. Why should he warn the Ninevites about God’s judgment? After how they had treated his people, they deserved to be wiped out. The last thing Jonah wanted was for his enemies to receive God’s blessing.
So he ran … as fast and as far as he could away from what God wanted him to do.
But God had other plans.
You know the story: God stirred up a storm. Jonah bailed out of the boat and ended up in the belly of the fish.
God gave Jonah time to think over his actions and attitudes. For the first time Jonah didn’t complain, he prayed. (Probably the only time any-one ever prayed for a fish-burp.)
The prayer was answered and Jonah eventually traveled to hated Ninevah. He preached to the people there. Though his odor wasn’t appealing, his message was and the Ninevites repented. God relented (as Jonah knew he would), and Jonah fumed, furious over the turn of events. He sulked.
We can be so difficult.
But God can be so patient.
The book of Jonah is more3 than a fascinating account of one man’s futile attempt to run away from God. It is a story of God’s love for even the most unlovable, despicable people we can imagine – and of our responsibility to tell them the Good News.
Sin runs rampant in society—daily headlines and overflowing prisons bear dramatic witness to that fact. With child abuse, pornography, serial killings, terrorism, anarchy, and ruthless dictatorships, the world seems to be filled to overflowing with violence, hatred, and corruption. Reading and hearing about these tragedies—and perhaps even experiencing them—we begin to understand the necessity of God’s judgment. We may even find ourselves wishing for vengeance by any means upon the violent perpetrators. Surely they are beyond redemption! But suppose that in the midst of such thoughts, God told you to take the gospel to the worst of the offenders—how would you respond?
Jonah was given such a task. Assyria—a great but evil empire—was Israel’s most dreaded enemy. The Assyrians flaunted their power before God and the world through numerous acts of heartless cruelty. So when Jonah heard God tell him to go to Assyria and call the people to repentance, he ran in the opposite direction.
The book of Jonah tells the story of this prophet’s flight and how God stopped him and turned him around. But it is much more than a story of a man and a great fish. Jonah’s story is a profound illustration of God’s mercy and grace. No one deserved God’s favor less than the people of Nineveh, Assyria’s capital. Jonah knew this. But he knew that God would forgive and bless them if they would turn from their sin and worship him. Jonah also knew the power of God’s message, that even through his own weak preaching, they would respond and be spared God’s judgment. But Jonah hated the Assyrians, and he wanted vengeance, not mercy. So he ran. Eventually, Jonah obeyed and preached in the streets of Nineveh, and the people repented and were delivered from judgment. Then Jonah sulked and complained to God, “I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people” (4:2). In the end, God confronted Jonah about his self-centered values and lack of compassion, saying, “But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” (4:11).
As you read Jonah, see the full picture of God’s love and compassion and realize that no one is beyond redemption. The gospel is for all who will repent and believe. Begin to pray for those who seem to be farthest from the kingdom, and look for ways to tell them about God. Learn from the story of this reluctant prophet and determine to obey God, doing whatever he asks and going wherever he leads.
|1. Jonah forsakes his mission (1:1–2:10)
2. Jonah fulfills his mission (3:1–4:11)
|Jonah was a reluctant prophet given a mission he found distasteful. He chose to run away from God rather than obey him. Like Jonah, we may have to do things in life that we don’t want to do. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to turn and run. But it is better to obey God than to defy him or run away. Often, in spite of our defiance, God in his mercy will give us another chance to serve him when we return to him.|
|God’s Sovereignty||Although the prophet Jonah tried to run away from God, God was in control. By controlling the stormy seas and a great fish, God displayed his absolute, yet loving guidance.||Rather than running from God, trust him with your past, present, and future. Saying no to God quickly leads to disaster. Saying yes brings new understanding of God and his purpose in the world.|
|God’s Message to All the World||God had given Jonah a purpose—to preach to the great Assyrian city of Nineveh. Jonah hated Nineveh, and so he responded with anger and indifference. Jonah had yet to learn that God loves all people. Through Jonah, God reminded Israel of its missionary purpose.||We must not limit our focus to our own people. God wants his people to proclaim his love in words and actions to the whole world. He wants us to be his missionaries wherever we are, wherever he sends us.|
|Repentance||When the reluctant preacher went to Nineveh, there was a great response. The people repented and turned to God. This was a powerful rebuke to the people of Israel, who thought they were better but refused to respond to God’s message. God will forgive all those who turn from their sin.||God doesn’t honor sham or pretense. He wants the sincere devotion of each person. It is not enough to share the privileges of Christianity; we must ask God to forgive us and to remove our sin. Refusing to repent shows that we still love our sin.|
|God’s Compassion||God’s message of love and forgiveness was not for the Jews alone. God loves all the people of the world. The Assyrians didn’t deserve it, but God spared them when they repented. In his mercy, God did not reject Jonah for aborting his mission. God has great love, patience, and forgiveness.||God loves each of us, even when we fail him. But he also loves other people, including those not of our group, background, race, or denomination. When we accept his love, we must also learn to accept all those whom he loves. We will find it much easier to love others when we truly love God.|
|served as a prophet to Israel and Assyria from 793-753 b.c.|
|Climate of the times||Nineveh was the most important city in Assyria and would soon become the capital of the huge Assyrian Empire. But Nineveh was also a very wicked city.|
|Main message||Jonah, who hated the powerful and wicked Assyrians, was called by God to warn the Assyrians that they would receive judgment if they did not repent.|
|Importance of message||Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he tried to run from God. But God has ways of teaching us to obey and follow him. When Jonah preached, the city repented and God withheld his judgment. Even the most wicked will be saved if they truly repent of their sins and turn to God.|
|Contemporary prophets||Joel (853-796? b.c.), Amos (760-750 b.c.)|
Unlike most other Old Testament prophetic books, Jonah gives an account of a single incident in the life of the prophet. The story is briefly told in some 40 verses. His prayer consumes the remaining eight verses. The Jews accepted this book as reflecting the experience of the actual prophet Jonah. However, some regard this book as an imaginative tale, akin to a modern “fish story.” Others view Jonah as an allegory or parable, teaching God’s universal love. Jonah’s missionary message finds later parallels in the message of Peter (see Ac 10:1-11-18) and Paul (see Ro 9-11). Jesus also referred to Jonah (Mt 12:38-41). Jonah’s preaching to Israel’s enemy (the hated Ninevites) was likely criticized by those who would limit God’s love to more deserving folks. The theological emphases in Jonah (on universal love, sovereignty and redempt5ion) are equally applicable today.
1 These are the sayings of King Lemuel, an oracle£ that his mother taught him.
2 O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my promises, 3 _ do not spend your strength on women, on those who ruin kings.
4 _ And it is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave liquor. 5For if they drink, they may forget their duties and be unable to give justice to those who are oppressed. 6Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. 7Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. 9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
A Wife of Noble Character
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. 11Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12She will not hinder him but help him all her life.
13She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14She is like a merchant’s ship; she brings her food from afar. 15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. 16She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. 18She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night. 19Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
20She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
21She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm clothes. 22She quilts her own bedspreads. She dresses like royalty in gowns of finest cloth.
23Her husband is well known, for he sits in the council meeting with the other civic leaders.
24She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. 26When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. 27She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness.
28Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. 31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Little is known about Lemuel except that he was a king who received wise teachings from his mother. His name means “devoted to God.” Some believe that Lemuel and Agur were both from the kingdom of Massa in northern Arabia.
Drunkenness might be understandable among dying people in great pain, but it is inexcusable for national leaders. Alcohol clouds the mind and can lead to injustice and poor decisions. People in leadership who anesthetize themselves with alcohol will eventually compromise their principles.
Proverbs has a lot to say about women. How fitting that the book ends with a picture of a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion.
Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, servile, and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements, however. They are a result of her reverence for God. In our society, where physical appearance counts for so much, it may surprise us to realize that her appearance is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character.
The woman described in this chapter has outstanding abilities. Her family’s social position is high. In fact, she may not be one woman at all—she may be a composite portrait of ideal womanhood. Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail; your days are not long enough to do everything she does! See her instead as an inspiration to be all you can be. We can’t be just like her, but we can learn from her industry, integrity, and resourcefulness.
The book of Proverbs begins with the command to fear the Lord (1:7) and ends with the picture of a woman who fulfills this command. Her qualities are mentioned throughout the book: hard work, fear of God, respect for spouse, foresight, encouragement, care for others, concern for the poor, wisdom in handling money. These qualities, when coupled with fear of God, lead to enjoyment, success, honor, and worth. Proverbs is practical for us because it shows how to become wise, make good decisions, and live according to God’s ideal.