Monday, June 24, 2013

Why Nineveh?

Jonah 4:11 (NKJV) And should I [God] not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?"

The book of Jonah is an amazing picture of God's grace for a city full of sinful people. If you have ever heard the story, you know that God asked Jonah to preach a message of salvation to Nineveh. Jonah rebelled and attempted to flee to Tarshish (1). During the journey, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. In the end, the people repented and Jonah did not approve of God's grace. The book ends with our verse at the top of this post.

I find it very interesting that the name Tarshish means a region of the stone (2). Since the Ten Commandments were written on stone. This tells me Jonah tried to take God to the Ten Commandments. This was a reason not to provide a means of salvation for Nineveh.

Jonah felt these people did not deserve salvation---they were lawbreakers.

However, God provided some fascinating revelation in the last three words of our verse, and much livestock. When I first read these words, they did not make any sense to me. They appeared to be out of place; after all, God does not lack livestock. I asked God what this meant and discovered a powerful message.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 7:22, "And the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you." This verse tells us the, beasts of the field, can be a difficult challenge. I believe these are invisible demonic forces that can influence people.

In our verse at the top, the word, livestock, comes from the same Hebrew word translated as, beasts, in Deuteronomy. God told Jonah; Nineveh did not know right from wrong, and they were influenced by many beasts.

Of course, when we tap into God, we can overpower the demonic. We need to understand the influences of our enemy in this world, whether people are saved or not, there are influences. We need to take authority over them in prayer and fellowship with God. We cannot do it in the natural realm.

God has grace for Nineveh, whether you still struggle with coming out of Nineveh or someone who upset you still dwells there, we all need grace to defeat the beasts of the field. Fleeing to the law will not do it!

Be blessed.
(1) Jonah 1:1-3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
(2) Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by James Strong, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s number, H658 - Tarshish.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How long was Jonah in the fish?

Jonah 1:17 (NKJV) Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the story about Jonah and the fish. There is animated cartoons and even major motion pictures that present it. However, did you know Jonah was not in the fish for three days and three nights?

Well, let me explain. Let's start with the name Jonah. Using a tool called an, Interlinear Scripture Analyzer (1), I can search the name in the original Hebrew text. This word is made up of four Hebrew letters and is pronounced yo-naw' (2).

In the original Hebrew Scripture, this word appears twenty-seven times. It is also translated differently in the different books of the Old Testament.

In the book of Leviticus, this word appears seven times, each time it is translated as turtledoves. The Bible says in Leviticus 5:7, "If he [the trespasser] is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering." When a trespasser could not afford a bull or lamb for an offering, he was permitted to use a dove or pigeon. The same word used for turtledove is the same word translated to Jonah.

So now you may be thinking, his name was turtledove, so what is the big deal? Now we need to look at the words, days and nights. According to Strong's concordance, days comes from a Hebrew word pronouced yome. This word can also mean the warm hours. The word nights comes from a word pronounced la'-yil (3), this word means a twist away from the light. These words can mean periods of the day or periods of the night.

So what is the significance?

The Bible says in Exodus 29:39, "One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight." Offerings were to be presented at the break of day or the break of the night. The verse says Jonah was in the belly of the fish over twilight. This was important if he was going to be the sin offering for these people.

The Bible tells us the people of Nineveh, who Jonah went to preach to, did not discern right from wrong and likely knew nothing about sin offerings (4). Jonah 2:2 tells us Jonah said, "Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You [God] heard my voice." Jonah died in that fish. He was likely in the fish for three hours of daylight and three hours of the night.

According to Hebrews 9:22, "... Without shedding of blood there is no remission." Jonah became their sacrifice. This is a picture of God's grace. These people did not know any better, so God provided a sacrifice. This is what Jesus did.

Be blessed!
(1) ISA Basic, copyright 2011 by Andre de Mol.  
(2) Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by James Strong, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s numbers, Jonah-H3124, H3123
(3) Strong's numbers, Days-H3117, Nights-H3915
(4) Jonah 4:11, "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?"

Monday, June 10, 2013

Limit God?

Psalm 78:41 (NKJV) Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.

Can God be limited? The Bible reveals God as the omnipotent creator of all things, yet this verse tells us mere human beings can limit Him.

God had a plan from the beginning---to give dominion on the earth to humankind (Ge. 1:26). As a born-again believer, I have an avenue to God and all His power into my affairs. However, I can also limit His power in my life.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." We exercise dominion by our words.

If you are a child of God, you are well protected. The greatest area of vulnerability is other people. The devil will often use people as a way into your life. When someone wrongs you, it is usually the devil behind it.

Many of us have been betrayed in the past. Often when this happens, we need to share it with someone. Sharing it with someone can be a critical part of the healing process, but we need to understand that our real enemy is the devil. Our sharing can often turn into cursing the people that hurt us. Although this may help us feel better in the short term, it does not put the devil where he belongs---under our feet.

When the enemy works through someone, they need God to break the chains of the devil. The best way to do that is to stop cursing them and bless them instead.

You may be asking, "Why would I ever want to bless my enemy?"

God said in Isaiah 57:19, "I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near, and I will heal him." You need to kick the real enemy, the devil, where it hurts by breaking his bondage over that person. God wants to heal those that hurt us. Release God into their life by declaring good fruit over them.

Be blessed!

Monday, June 03, 2013

From the inside out!

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

The greatest gift in life is Jesus. He literally took our sins and made us pure. He prepared us to be God's dwelling place.

I find it amazing that as I learn to recognize Him, He becomes so real. And He is available anytime I need for courage, wisdom, or love. He is readily available to break bondage over my life. When He looks at me, He does not see my sins; He sees a treasure, a child of God.

The first nineteen years as a Christian, I wrestled with a smoking addiction. I did not think God wanted me as a smoker. The truth is, He loved me no matter what. When I realized that, I gave up on trying to quit smoking. Wow, what freedom I felt. Smoking no longer condemned me in God's presence. I would talk to Him and even pray with a cigarette in my hand.

One day I realized, I still wanted to quit smoking. Not because I had to, smoking was a waste of time and money. It was terribly inconvenient, especially in winter. It had all kinds of side effects. I wanted to be free of this bondage. I understood that Jesus came to set the captives free (1). I wanted His help.

The first thing I did was to thank Him for this freedom from bondage. I still had the addiction but I thanked Him for freedom almost every time I lit a smoke. For me, it took a couple of weeks. Everybody is different.

After a couple of weeks, I asked God why I was still smoking. After all, He told me that He came to set me free. All of the sudden a voice came from inside me---stop putting them in your mouth. I was so afraid to quit; I tried so many times before and failed. However, I knew the voice was from inside my heart so I gave it a shot. Wow---the cravings were gone.

Two things I want to bring to your attention about our verse at the top. First, notice it says God works inside you. Next, notice the word His in italics. That word was never in the original text. God works in us for good pleasure---ours and His. When we are happy---God is happy. We are His treasure.

Most of my Christian walk, I believed I had to make God happy. I realize now there is only one way to do that---let God make me happy. I talk to Him and listen to what He has to say inside me. If it agrees with His word and does not condemn me (2), it is the voice of God.

Be blessed!
(1)  Luke 4:18 (NLT) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me [Jesus], for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.
(2) John 3:17 (NLT) God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.