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Friday, December 9 2011
The Joppa Lessons Of Jonah And Peter
Joppa, from the Hebrew word pronounced yaw-foh, meaning beautiful, is located on Israel's Mediterranean (a word from Greek that means in the middle of the earth; see also From What Sea Has The Beast Risen?) seacoast between Caesarea and Gaza, about 57 kilometers / 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem. It is rendered variously in translations of the Word of God as "Joppa," "Japho," "Jaffe," or "Yafo." Today, the ancient city of Joppa is annexed to the modern city of Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city (see the photograph below).
Joppa has served as a port of sea trade for Israel since ancient times. The Lebanon cedar (see The Temple Cedar) that was used in the original Temple in Jerusalem arrived at Joppa, by sea from Tyre. The use of "gentile" cedar in the Temple, including in the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant and the written Ten Commandments were located (see also Written In The Heart Of Our Tabernacles), was itself a prophecy that salvation is open to all people who obey God's Law. As we will read, both Jonah and Peter later learned that lesson at Joppa.
"2:11 Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon [see also The King's Dedication],
After the original Temple was destroyed because the people of Judah became corrupt before the LORD (i.e. merely claiming to be God's people, while arrogantly having whatever religion that one lusts for, is the way to destruction, not to salvation; see Is Your Religion Your Religion?, Is Your Church A Cult? and Antichristians), the Temple was rebuilt in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Once again, cedar from Lebanon, shipped to Joppa, was used for the construction - and again, the lesson that the LORD determines what and who is holy, solely according to what is accomplished in deed (see The Manner Of Fruit).
"3:1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3:3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
When all of the shipments and preparations had been completed, re-construction of the Temple began (see also What Was Holy About Herod's Temple?).
"3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites [see Are Levites 'Jews'? and No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?], from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. 3:9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel [see also The Restoration Of David's Fallen Tabernacle]." (Ezra 3:8-10 KJV)
"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life"
Jonah, from the Hebrew name pronounced yo-naw, meaning a dove, was a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel (see The Prophets: North and South) at the time when the Assyrian Empire (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) was a growing threat to then-corrupt Israel. Ironically, Jonah was sent to prophesy to the "gentile" Assyrians, warning the Assyrians to repent, so that they would not be destroyed before their God-given task of destroying Israel because of Israel's unfaithfulness to the LORD. Jonah naturally would rather have seen the Assyrians devastated because they were a growing threat to Israel (i.e. Jonah at first put his patriotism to Israel ahead of his patriotism to God - "patriotism" literally means loyalty to the father, which to a true Christian means to God The Father), so Jonah attempted to flee on a ship from Joppa - and hence his famous encounter with a "great fish."
"1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken." (Jonah 1:1-4 KJV)
Jonah was a contemporary with other prophets who were given to warn Israel directly, but Jonah was sent to warn Israel's enemy, Assyria, to keep themselves from being destroyed before they were to be set loose upon Israel if Israel refused to heed the warnings of the other prophets (which Israel did not - and so the LORD brought about The Galilee Captivity). With his Joppa lesson learned, Jonah went to Nineveh, Assyria's capital city, and warned them. Much to Jonah's regret, He was successful at getting the Assyrians to repent.
"3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 3:2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
The "three days and three nights" prophecy of the Messiah of all people was based upon the incident of Jonah's preaching to the "gentiles" - to all the world, considering that it was from Babylon, where the Nineveh was located, that the Israelite father Abraham was born. Abraham was a "gentile" (see The Journey From Ur Of The Chaldees and Abraham The Christian; also Why Did The Magi Come?).
"12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
By the time of the "New Testament" (see Was Jesus A 'New Testament' Christian?), Joppa was still a busy commercial port. As it happened, it was at Joppa that the LORD, through Peter, restored the life of Tabitha ("restore" may be more appropriate than "resurrect" because Tabitha's ultimate resurrection is yet to happen; see Resurrections). Peter remained in the city long afterward, perhaps at least partly because Joppa was a seaport city in which Peter, the Galilee fisherman from the seaport city of Capernaum (see The Ships Of Galilee), would have felt more at home. Peter was not a man of the desert, mountains or pasturelands.
Joppa is unique in the history of The Gospel of The Kingdom of God because it was there that the Church was first given to understand the truth that the Gospel is for all people who are repentant and obedient to God (see What Made Abraham Righteous?). The lesson originated from a man in Joppa, who was not only a gentile, but a Roman military commander - a man that the people of Judah would have naturally resented and detested because of the brutal and arrogant Roman military occupation of their country - including their execution of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, that Roman centurion (a "centurion" was an officer in charge of 100 troops; the English words century and cent originated from the same root word; see also Legions Of Men And Angels) was a "devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway."
"10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
It's important to keep in mind that the "birthday of the church" Pentecost was attended by Jews from many nations, not "gentiles" from many nations ("2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" Acts 2:5 KJV). For that reason, many in the Church (which literally means called out ones, not slam the door shut on everyone else ones) regarded itself as exclusive to Jews i.e. one had to become a Jew to become a Christian. But the Gospel of salvation is not a "closed group" - a Biblical reality that many puffed-up "Sacred Name" fanatics (a short-sighted movement, invented only in the 1920s, which ignores the very God-commanded reason for "speaking in tongues" - preaching the Gospel in the native languages of all people), or non-Jews who are playing make-believe Jew (thinking that it makes them more Christian, or Christian at all; "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not" Revelation 2:9 KJV) would do well to realize. It's fine to be a native Hebrew speaker or a Jew - if you actually are a native Hebrew speaker or a Jew - but that is not what determines what is righteous. Born in Babylon, "father of the faithful" righteous Abraham was not a native Hebrew speaker or a Jew! (see The Journey From Ur Of The Chaldees, Don't Look Back and Who Were The First Jews?). It was the very same correction that the apostle Paul, the Pharisee Saul, would later also learn when Jesus Christ appointed him to be the "apostle to the Gentiles" (i.e. the "Books" of Luke and Acts were written by a gentile; see The Gospel By The Gentile) - a lesson that had already been given to Peter and all the others by the man in Joppa; so when "they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God."
"11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Fact Finder: As we've read, the only people who are "foreign" to the LORD are those who refuse to obey Him. By what means is salvation open to all people?
This Day In History, December 9
536: Flavius Belisarius (most-often known simply as "Belisarius"), a general of the Eastern (or "Byzantine") Roman Empire, captured Rome.
1625: The Treaty of the Hague was signed under which England and the Netherlands agreed to subsidize Christian IV of Denmark in his campaign in Germany.
1824: The Battle of Ayacucho, during the Latin-American war of independence; an anti-Spain republican rebel victory over royalists on the high plateau near Ayacucho, Peru.
1868: W.E. Gladstone became British Prime Minister for the first of his four terms.
1870: The Society of Biblical Archaeology was founded in London.
1905: An Act for the Separation of Church and State became law in France, repealing Napoleon's Concordat of 1801.
1917: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), British forces under the command of General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem from the Ottomans (listen to our Sermons The Ottoman Empire and The Balfour Declaration). It occurred on Hanukkah, which commemorates the recovery of The Temple after the original "abomination of desolation" that was committed by The Seleucids while under the rule of the heathen Antiochus Epiphanes (see Abomination of Desolation - Where? and listen to our Sermon Hanukkah In Prophecy).
1931: Spain became a republic.
1940: British forces launched their first major offensive in North Africa during the Second World War.
1941: China declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.
1945: U.S. General George Patton was involved in an automobile accident at Kafertal, a suburb of Mannheim, Germany. The collision was relatively minor, however Patton, who was not wearing a seat belt, flew upward and struck his head on the roof of the vehicle; he was paralyzed from the neck down and died 12 days later.
1949: The United Nations General Assembly voted for the entire city of Jerusalem to be transformed into a corpus separtum - an "international" city.
1957: Lester Pearson (who later served as Canada's 14th Prime Minister, 1963-1968) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the award for his work while Canadian external affairs minister in negotiating a settlement of the 1956 Suez crisis by proposing a UN peace-keeping force as a means of easing the British and French out of Egypt.
1961: Captured Nazi Adolf Eichman was found guilty of war crimes by a court in Israel.
1961: Tanganyika became independent from Britain and took the new name Tanzania.
1990: Former "Solidarity" labor union leader Lech Walesa won Poland's presidential election.
1994: The closest (to date) recorded approach to earth by a celestial object occurred when an asteroid the size of a small house passed within 100,000 km. of the planet (about 1/4 of the distance to the moon). Known as asteroid 1994XM1, it orbits the sun in the same area as the earth and is believed that it will eventually collide with earth.