Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 5

Prayer Point: This psalm is meant to be prayed at the beginning of the day. What is bothering you as you begin the day?  Stop, lay them before the LORD, and wait in expectation for him to act. (See verse 3)

Luke 8:40-56

Who has been waiting for Jesus’ return from the Gentile side of the lake? Can you imagine how the man with the sick daughter felt as the crowds delayed Jesus’ arrival?

The woman in the crowd had been bleeding for 12 years. She was considered unclean all that time. Anyone she touched was unclean. Can you imagine being denied human contact for twelve years! Why do you think she is so afraid when Jesus notices that she touched him? Is there anything magical about Jesus’ cloak? Why does Jesus heal her anyway, even when this woman ‘got it wrong’?

During the delay, Jairus’ daughter dies. How does Jesus respond? Who gets to witness the miracle? Peter, James and John were considered to be the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. What are the parents told to do with what they have just witnessed? Why do you think Jesus gave this command?

Acts 26:24-27:8

Paul has just given his defense before King Agrippa. He is on trial for his life, but you get the sense that there are other things that he cares about more than securing his release. What hope does Paul have that is more important to him than his freedom (see 26:27-29)? Why isn’t Paul released in verse 32?

The right to appeal to Caesar was the right of every Roman citizen. Paul was born into his citizenship (a rare privilege in those days), and it is this right that will carry him to Rome. Why do you think Paul values going to a Rome as a prisoner over his own freedom(see Acts 23:11)?

Paul’s final voyage to Rome now begins, but he is not alone. Who is allowed to accompany Paul? Notice that verse 2 says, “we”. Luke the author of the Gospel of Luke and a companion of Paul wrote the book of Acts. How does God show kindness to Paul even though he is in chains?

Jonah 1:1-17 – Jonah’s Response to the LORD’s call

Who is Jonah? Well, I’ll give you my opinion of who Jonah is. Jonah is my favorite yet most unsuccessful prophet. Let me clarify. Jonah was unsuccessful because his prophecy concerning Nineveh never happened. That can only mean that he was perhaps the most successful prophet with regard delivering his message. His eight word sermon by the power of the Holy Spirit: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overturned.” managed to turn the hearts of the Ninevites. Now on the what the professionals have to say.

From The ESV Study Bible Notes pp. 1683-1684

“Author and Title”
“The title of the book is the name of the main character, Jonah. The book is anonymous, and there are no indicators elsewhere in Scripture to identify the author. The foundational source for the book was likely Jonah’s own telling of the story after his return from Nineveh.”

“Date”
“Since Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam (II) (782-753 B.C.; see 2 Kings 14:23-28), and since Sirach 49:10 (from the 2nd century B.C.) refers to the ‘twelve prophets’ (namely, the 12 Minor Prophets, of which Jonah is the fifth), the book of Jonah was written sometime between the middle of the eighth and the end of the third centuries. No compelling evidence leads to a more precise date.”

“Theme”
“The LORD is a God of boundless compassion not just for ‘us’ (Jonah and the Israelites) but also for ‘them’ (the pagan sailors and Ninevites).”

“Purpose, Occasion, and Background”
“The primary purpose of the book of Jonah is to engage readers in theological reflection on the compassionate character of God, and in self-reflection on the degree to which their own character reflects this compassion, to the end that they become vehicles of this compassion in the world that God has made and so deeply cares about.

“Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:23-28), who ruled in Israel (the northern kingdom) from 782 to 753 B.C. Jeroboam was the grandson of Jehoahaz, who ruled in Israel from 814 to 798 B.C. Because of the sins of Jehoahaz, Israel was oppressed by the Arameans (2 Kings 13:3). But because of the LORD’s great compassion (2 Kings 13:4, 23), Israel was spared destruction and delivered from this oppression (2 Kings 15). This deliverance came through a ‘savior’ (2 Kings 13:5), who may have been Adad-nirari III (810-783 B.C.), king of Assyria.

“Jeroboam’s father, Jehosh (798-782 B.C.), capitalized on this freedom from Aramean oppression and began to expand Israel’s boundaries, recapturing towns taken during the reign of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:25). Though Jeroboam ‘did what was evil in the sight of the LORD’ (2 Kings 14:24), he nevertheless expanded Israel even farther than his father did, matching the boundaries in the days of David and Solomon (2 Kings 14:25); this was ‘according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Garth-hepher’ (2 Kings 14:25). Thus Jonah witnessed first-hand the restorative compassion of God extended to his wayward people.

“In God’s providence, the expansion by Jeroboam was made easier because of Assyrian weakness. The Assyrians were engaged in conflicts with the Arameans and the Urartians. There was also widespread famine, and numerous revolts within the Assyrian Empire (where regional governors ruled with a fair degree of autonomy). Then there was an auspicious eclipse of the sun during the reign of Ashur-dan III (771-754 B.C.). This convergence of events supports the plausibility of the Ninevites being so responsive to Jonah’s call to repent.

“It was not until some years later that Tiglath-pileser (745-727 B.C.) would gain control and reestablish Assyrian dominance in the area, and his son Shalmaneser V ( 727-722) was the king responsible for the conquest of Israel and the destruction of Samaria in 722. Thus Jonah prophesied in an era when Assyria was not an immediate threat to Israel and when Israel enjoyed peace and prosperity because of the compassion of God.”

{Actually, much of the shifting of the balance of power looks so much like “my friend is my enemy’s enemy”. That is the only way I can conceive of Israel ever being in alliance with Assyria. Once Assyria regained its prominence, the balance would again change (and not to Israel’s benefit).}

Where is the LORD sending Jonah, son of Amittai? (The LORD wants Jonah to go to Nineveh, Assyria to preach repentance. “Go to that great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2 NIV))

Why does the LORD care about Nineveh? (Actually the answer is in Chapter 4 but for our purposes here it is simply because: “The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV) While it is true that Peter wrote those words six hundred years later, still the truth of those words is eternal. More obviously, since everyone is an “image-bearer” of God, the value to God is self-evident. It is important to understand that the worth of the image-bearer is incalculable. Whether friend or enemy, all have equal value before God. — j.t.)

What was Jonah’s response to the LORD’s “request” that he go to Nineveh? (Jonah did not actually refuse to go to Nineveh, he just left town so he would not have to deal with the assignment. Unfortunately his response will have serious ramifications on those with whom he comes in contact.)

How did Jonah actually “leave town”? (Jonah got passage on a ship headed for a place called Tarshish (which we believe is what is today known as Spain) “After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. (Jonah 1:3 NIV))

Since the LORD wanted to grab Jonah’s attention, what did he do? (“Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jonah 14 NIV))

It is now that Jonah’s response to the Lord begins to effect those around him. What happens aboard ship? (“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.” (Jonah 1:5 NIV))

What was Jonah doing all this time? (He was sleeping it off. The captain came to him woke him up and told him to call upon his god: “Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” (Jonah 1:6 NIV) The significance of this is that a similar thing happened to Jesus while he was aboard ship in the Sea of Galilee. “Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (Matthew 8:23-26 NIV) Both men were asleep at the time of the churning sea and both men brought about the calming of the sea.)

How do the sailors determine that Jonah was the source of their trouble? (They did it the old fashioned way: “they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.” (Jonah 1:7b NIV))

What does Jonah say that terrifies the sailors? (“I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” (Jonah 1:9 NIV) I am only guessing here, but the sailors had worshiped many gods: a god of the sea, a god of heaven, a god of the land, a god of rain, a god of sun, etc. So if Jonah worships the God of heaven who made both the sea and the dry land, this must be a greater God than all of theirs. This is what terrified them.)

How was it that the sailors knew Jonah was fleeing the Lord? (Jonah had told his compatriots he was fleeing from God. “(They knew he was running from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)” (Jonah 1:10 NIV))

At this point things look rather bleak. What do the sailors ask Jonah? (“What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” (Jonah 1:11 NIV))

What is the thing that Jonah does which may be considered quite heroic, quite unselfish, and even Christ-like? (Jonah says: “‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.'” (Jonah 1:12 NIV))

How do the sailors react to this unconventional solution to the current problem? (“[T]he men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.” (Jonah 1:13 NIV)

So these men have a measure of morality and compassion, but they realize their efforts are futile. The view themselves as forced to a dramatic and regrettable choice. What must they do and how do they prepare themselves for the task left to them? (The first thing they do is to pray to this God of Jonah, after all, he is greater than their own gods. They plead with him not to hold them accountable for what they are about to do. “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” (Jonah 1:14 NIV) Similar words of the sailors were uttered several hundred years before by David: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” (Psalm 115:3 NIV) Clearly, these men were not quoting David, but it is interesting that one can come to the same conclusion via a different route.– j.t.)

I hope I haven’t tipped my hand much, but what do the sailors do and what is the result? (“Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.” Bear in mind that Jonah gave his life willingly just as Jesus will do in years to come. He was not forced: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV) Here we have yet another similarity between Jonah and Jesus. — j.t.)

I believe that for the sailors the story ends there. What, however, happens to Jonah? (“But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17 NIV) This is precisely the event in Jonah’s life that Jesus refers to: “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, ‘This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.'” (Luke 11:29-32 NIV))

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