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Treasure from the Book of Jonah
When we hear of the name Jonah, we often picture him as the disobedient prophet who initially refused to follow God. We are all acquainted of what happened to him when he departed to Tarshish; how he willingly had himself thrown to the sea, and how he stayed in the belly of the fish for three days. But the book of Jonah pictures more than the supernatural events that compelled him to follow the Lord - this book demonstrates the unconfined mercies of God.
One of the many reasons why the book of Jonah is unique is because of what seems to be its "missing" ending. Unlike most books in the Bible, this particular book does not have a conclusion of what transpired in the life of Jonah after his desire to die in his anger.
Jonah 4:4 Then said the LORD, doest thou well to be angry?
What caused Jonah's anger?
The place where he was divinely commissioned to preach repentance is situated in Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria - Israel's most hated enemy. The Bible revealed that it displeased Jonah to carry out the task that was given to him. In his point of view, the people in Nineveh do not deserve the mercies of God. Thus, he evaded to preach repentance to these people. Perhaps, he thought that if he will not preach repentance to the Ninevites, God will pour His judgment towards these people.
There are three timeless treasures that we could extract from the book of Jonah:
1. THE WILL OF GOD WILL STILL BE ACCOMPLISHED WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT.
We all know that the series of supernatural events led Jonah to still perform the perfect plan of God. If we will study the map, we will find out that Jonah did not need to ride a ship to reach Nineveh - it can only be traveled by land! But instead, Jonah conceived in his heart to "flee from the presence of the Lord" by embarking a long journey from Gath-hepher to Joppa, and from Joppa, he boarded a ship going to Tarshish. For Jonah to attempt to flee from the presence of the Lord, he must have thought that the Lord God of Israel is confined within the bounds of geographical location.
Psalm 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
Clearly speaking, Jonah failed to flee from God's presence - and before he know it, he was repenting of his actions inside the whale's belly. (Jonah 2:2-9) God gave him another chance, and for the second time, the LORD charged him to go to Nineveh to preach what the Lord wanted him to preach (Jonah 3:1).
And he commenced on another journey, only this time, he was fulfilling the will of the Lord. (Jonah 2:3)
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
We can't be selectively obedient to our Creator. We do not always have to agree to what the Lord wants us to do because the Bible says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). There are times when we do not simply understand why the Lord commands us to do something that transcends our logical understanding - but even so, we simply have to obey.
It is absolutely impossible to flee from the presence of an omnipresent God! The first couple in the world, Adam and Eve, have failed in their attempt to hide from Him. The Lord declared through Jeremiah that even at our best attempt, we can't hide from His presence.
Jeremiah 23:24 - Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.
The Bible says in Jonah 3:4-5
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.
Did Jonah like it? Most certainly not.
Did Jonah attempt to reject God's will? The Bible declared it.
In the end, did Jonah accomplish the will of the Lord? Absolutely.
Do you find yourself entangled between your will and God's will? Choose to follow the Lord - because sooner or later, you will still do so. Do not think that your comprehension makes a better alternative to what God has willed you to do. After all, His will shall be accomplished in the fulness of His time - and it will not be swayed by our opinions, belief, or preference.
2. THE MERCIES OF GOD WILL BE BESTOWED WHETHER WE AGREE TO IT OR NOT.
And when Jonah finally carried out the task, the people of Nineveh repented of their sins and believed in God!
Jonah 3:5-6 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.
In a miraculous turn of events, the people who were known to be notoriously wicked and utterly profane have come to their senses and believed in God! (Jonah 3:5) From the highest King to the lowest of the cattle, they fasted and begged for the Lord's mercy. Even the once boastful King had set aside his robe and traded it to sackcloth. What a great demonstration of humility and repentance!
Jonah 3:8 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. 9Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
The King did not only issue a decree to fast, he admonished them to turn from their evil ways. He was not only sorrowful, he was remorseful! He wanted to end the violence and the evil that has stained their hands. It was probably the first and the last revival that happened in the history of Nineveh. As a result, God has given them grace, and withheld the judgment towards Nineveh.
Jonah 3:10 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.
What was the reaction of Jonah? The Bible says it displeased him and upon knowing it, he further revealed that the reason why he fled to Tarshish was because he know that the Lord was gracious and that he knows that He would show his mercy to Ninevites if they would repent. He was sorely angry that he wished death to come upon him.
In order for us to understand Jonah deeper, think of the most radical group or city in the world who are known for their profanity and evil. Maybe some of us will also refuse to preach repentance to them, because we reckon that they are unworthy of the Lord's mercy. Think of a person who has done evil to you - and imagine being given a task to witness God's plan of salvation to them. Will we find the pleasure to carry out such task? Perhaps some of us would begin to understand where Jonah was coming from. But is it correct? No.
Sometimes, we become like Jonah. We lose sight of the reality that none of us deserved the grace of God in the first place, yet he chose to give it to us liberally. But there are times when we are selfish in the grace that we received, that we don't want to share it to people who we deem to be unworthy. God is the God of Israelites, and He is also the God who extended His mercy to the Ninevites. As a fellow beneficiary of God's mercy, we must not question Him to whom He wills to bestow it.
God is just and impartial. It would defy His attribute if He will execute judgment to Nineveh who have already repented of their sins (though they may be the fiesty enemy of Israel during their time). To sum it all, the mercies of God will be bestowed to whom He pleases, whether we agree to it or not.
Romans 9:15 "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
3. THE JUDGMENT OF GOD WILL STILL BE FULFILLED WHETHER WE BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
When the people in Nineveh repented of their sins, God delayed the judgment in response to their unprecedented repentance. As previously mentioned, Nineveh might have had their first and last revival during the time of Jonah. Jonah was the first prophet to pronounce the impending judgment that awaits Nineveh, but he was not the last. After over a century, Nahum the Elkoshite was born. The book of Nahum seems to be a sequel to the book Jonah because they carried the same message, and the same prophecy towards Nineveh.
During the time of Nahum, Nineveh rose up to be the greatest and most advanced city in world. They had armies and were surrounded by reinforced walls (Nahum 3:2-3); but their prosperity led them back to their folly. The succeeding generation of the once repentant Ninevites had no regard to who God is - and in the abundance of their wealth, they have soon forgotten not only Jonah, but the prophecy that he pronounced toward their city.
Perhaps, the new generation of the Ninevites thought that Jonah was just a fable, and that God's judgment is just another legend that their fathers used to believe. They didn't fear God because they were the most powerful nation during their time. In fact, they esteemed themselves so highly that they were taunting the God of Israel who had been nothing but merciful to their grandfathers a century ago.
Isaiah 36:4; 18 4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
Truly, Nineveh was already ripe for judgment. But God has exhibited His longsuffering yet once again peradventure that they will change. After Assyria's mockery to Hezekiah, it was only until 612 B.C where the prophecy of Nahum came to a fulfillment. Nineveh fell, and great was the fall of it (Eze. 32:33). They were invaded and destroyed by the Babylonians, Medes and the Scythians. In fulfillment of God's judgment, Nineveh was utterly destroyed that it was never rebuilt. The only remnant that we could take a hold of today are their sins, and the judgment that came upon them.
Jonah was the forerunner of the judgment that would have been poured out to the Ninevites after 40 days. But through their repentance, they were spared by God until the succeeding generation went back to their old ways - the 40 days then became approximately 200 years. Like Agag, they must have also said "surely, the bitterness of death is passed", but just like Agag, they were wrong.
The point is, our unbelief will not influence the surety of God's judgment. The Assyrians' inability to commemmorate God's mercy did not make God's judgment any less accurate. It was fulfilled whether they chose to believe it or not.
We may not be as wicked as the Ninevites, but please know that at this very moment, God is extending His mercies to us. He has been patient in our weaknesses, and he is waiting for us to change. Like the Ninevites, we have been pardoned because of our repentance and belief - but it should not stop there. Remember that the quality of faith that you are living is the greatest gift that you could give to the next generation. Had the Ninevites wholeheartedly repent and change for good, they could have produced God-fearing sons, grandsons, and future generation. Brethren, today let us take a stand and put an end to the generational sin that enslaved our forefathers. May we all learn from the Ninevites.
Nineveh is a proof of God's longsuffering; but in the abundance of His tender mercies lies another attribute that He can't compromise - and that is, HE IS JUST.
A THIEF IN THE NIGHT
November 3, 2017
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Over the centuries, the belief of Christ's imminent return for His Saints have been the most awaited and most talked about event in every Christian's life. It is the blessed hope of every believer that Jesus Christ Himself shall descend from heaven for all His saints to be caught up and meet Him in the air. (See footnote about the saints)
The word "caught up" in versae 17 was further altered to the word "Rapture" (from the Latin word "Raptus" which means to snatch away or carried away) in the 16th century to provide the exact name for this glorious event that would mark the history of all mankind. However, the word "rapture" appears nowhere in the Bible, but the event does.
I- What then is Rapture?
The "Rapture" or the caught up is the event where the Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, and with a command - The bodies of those who died in Jesus during the Church Age will be "caught up" followed by the existing believers and ascend upon hearing the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God to be quickly changed into our new incorruptible body and meet Him in the air. This event will happen in a flash, in a millisecond or as Paul stated "In a moment, int the twinkling of an eye" 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The rapture "caught up" formally ends the dispensation of the church on earth as the members of His church will then be removed from earth and taken to heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) This is a happening that no living people on earth (who have not accepted him) will be able to participate or observe. They will not witness it, but only experience the effects of it afterwards.(Matthew 24:40-42) Grievous mourning then shall wrap the whole universe for the reason that those who were left behind will come looking for their family and friends yet greater mourning shall come upon those who have heard the gospel yet chose to harden their hearts and opted to pattern their lives according to the world's standard, that Satan, the god of this world established. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
The worls will tremble with fear and confusion about the unexplainable vanishing of people all over the world, but as soon as their recollection brings them back to the day where the zealous Christians and Pastors preached these things, their hearts shall then be filled with great sorrow and repentance upon the recognition of the Bible's verity and the infallible truth in it. They will cry out for mercy and regret but just as how the hour glass runs out of sand, so shall the dispensation of grace will be. The progressions od these cataclysmic occurences are now inescapable as they march on towards the world's greatest delusion - The rise of the Antichrist, the revelation of the son of perdition. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
II - What are the purpose of "Rapture"?
I would like to correlate this event when God removed Noah and his family before the great flood that came upon the earth some thousands of years ago to exterminate the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
These accounts in the Old Testament times only demonstratedthe righteousness of our God for setting apart the just with His horrendous annihilation with the unjust.
This draws a parallel to the much anticipated event in our generation where God will supernaturally remove His church out of this world before He pour out His wrath on the deteriorated humanity which shall last for 70 weeks as prophesied by Daniel called "The Great Tribulation". (Daniel 9:24-27) It will be the most excruciating era that has ever happened from the beginning of the world and will certainly never happen again.
(Matthew 24:21) For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
THE VISIBLE PURPOSES
1. To remove the Church from the impending plagues that will soon enfold the entirety of the Earth.
Revelation 3:10-11 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly : hold fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
2. For the total destruction of our sinful, mortal, corruptible body and purify it into an immortal and incorruptible one.
Paul speaks of it clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 :
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
3. For the fulfillment of the Messiah's long-awaited promise.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
III - The Day and the Hour Unkown
Several accounts in the Bible confirmed the indefinite timing of this event. As Matthew 24:36 affirmed:
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
Yet Jesus left us with great signs in Matthew 24 to discern how we are living in the last stretch of the last days. However, there are many clear references in the Scriptures that appear to indicate that the "Rapture" will take place before the Great Tribulation; one of the chief evidence of a "Pre-tribulation Rapture" is found in the book of Revelation where the Church is mentioned in the first three chapters (nineteen times) but in Revelation 4-19 (which describes the Great Tribulation in great detail), there is not one mention of the Church being on the Earth.
Second point to consider is how the Scriptures made a clear distinction between the "Rapture" and the Second-Coming. The Bible stated Matthew 24:42 "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." which refers to the happening of the "Rapture" while the whole duration and sequencing of the Great Tribulation was fuly expressed in the details by our major prophets in the Bible.
Notice that the Bible is describing two events here. The first is indefinite while the other one is specific.
To our dear readers, while we are waiting for the imminent day of the Lord jesus Christ, how can we be sure that we really do belong to Him? My friend, let us not be caught unprepared. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. When the day finally arrives: Where would you rather be? Will you be escorted to Heaven by Jesus Christ Himself? Or will you remain more years here on earth while experiencing the wrath of our ever Righteous God?
Today, I challenge you to choose your choice.
Your destiny awaits you.
(Are you uncertain about your destination?)
Allow us to usher you to the Road of Salvation's page and we hope it would be a blessing to you.
To my Brethren in Christ,
Paul stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Many professing Christians nowadays are lapsed into complete passivity. The sad thing is, backsliding Christians are now escalating in great numbers. Are you in a deep spiritual sleep today? My brethren, now is the high time to AWAKE out of your deep slumber and be ignited by the Holy Ghost to be fully convicted with God's perfect will in your life.
God did not save us from spiritual death to be idle, but to be a partaker of the Great Commission that He left to us. As we live day by day carrying His name, let our words and deeds count worthy of who we are representing. As God's elect, we are charged to be the light of this world despite of the fact that we are living in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. (Philippians 2:15)
I challenge all of us to be zealous Ambassador of Christ in the Spirit of Meekness and unity as we wait for the day where Jesus will come to lead us home, where we belong.
Jesus said in Revelation 22:20 "Surely, I come quickly."
"Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus Christ!"
References: Grant Jeffrey, Armageddon
Johan Malan, University of North
HOLY BIBLE KJV 1611
Bless the Lord, O my soul: A personal devotion
May 28, 2014
Psalm 103 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
I believe that the Psalmist stressed the necessity to bless the Lord for a purpose. Otherwise, he would not see the need to repeat it if things were not so. I sincerely believe that God is glorified whenever the very heart of our souls blesses Him. The etymology of the word bless is derived from the Hebrew wordbarak which means to kneel (an implication to bless God as an act of adoration). I am appalled to realize how many times we(yes, including me) bless the Lord with our mouth in the midst of our backslidden soul and rotten heart.
The act of blessing the holy name of the Lord is enwrapped with divine benefits and we ought not to forget it. We must always come to remembrance how the Lord pardoned our transgressions not partially but completely; “As far as the east is from the west” as the Psalmist added in the latter verse. Not only did He pardon us but He also healed us from diseases whether it is in physical or spiritual form. As of this writing, I could only ask myself what I did to be a beneficiary of His Divine love. The answer is found on the cross. Yes, the cross! Through that cross, I found that God’s love is pierced for me. It is through the cross that my life was redeemed from distractions not knowing that a great destruction awaits me. I was only a helpless sinner not knowing that I am in need of a Savior. I knew what the cross was, back then, but I did not know the depth of its power; nor did I ever fathom that it can cleanse even the most stubborn stains of sin.
After years of gliding to and fro, not knowing where to go, I came to the saving knowledge; I repented of my sins and laid all my sin’s guilt and shame on the cross. I believe that being pardoned is the deepest desire of every criminal who is sentenced to death; and in my case, I was unknowingly heading to that direction. To me, my pardon suffices my service for my Lord. As a servant, I gladly bowed down to my Master not knowing that His kindness does not end in my salvation and that I would also be crowned with His loving kindness and tender mercies!
The Bible also tells us that the Lord satisfies us (our mouth) with good things and not with rich things, worldly things, many things or everything. Instead, He gives us good things. The things that would do good to us, the good things that would be beneficial for us, and the good things that would not do us harm so that our youth is renewed like the eagles.
"Just as how the eagle can renew its strength, whose eye can gaze upon the sun, and whose wings can mount up above the storm, so should the Believers be." There are so many things that the world needs in order for them to be satisfied; wealth, fame and power to name a few. For believers, it is only God who can satisfy the very depths of our being.
As visible as it is, this chapter renews the very complexity of any longing soul. Whenever we seek an assurance from the word of God, we may read Psalm 103. In fact, opening Psalm 103 is the personal 911 of our soul. In that way, we could be comforted and reassured of how we stand before the Lord.