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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.

Map Of Joppa

"2:11 Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon [see also The King's Dedication],

Because the LORD hath loved his people [see The First Christian Church], he hath made thee king over them.

2:12 Huram said moreover,

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son [wise before he replaced God's Wisdom with carnal "wisdom"; see Rehoboam's Answer], endued with prudence and understanding, that might build an house for the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.

2:13 And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father's, 2:14 The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan [see Dan's Galilee Panhandle], and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.

2:15 Now therefore the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine, which my lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants: 2:16 And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.

2:17 And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel, after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and they were found an hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hundred. 2:18 And he set threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of burdens, and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the mountain, and three thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people a work." (2 Chronicles 2:11-18 KJV)

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).

A Seal Of Joppa

"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.

3:4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles [see The Tabernacles Celebration After The Fall Of Babylon and What Did Jesus Christ Teach At Tabernacles?], as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD. 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia." (Ezra 3:1-7 KJV)

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."

Tel Aviv Coastline

"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)

"1:15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

1:17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:15-17 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.

3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 3:4 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. 3:5 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.

3:6 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. 3:7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 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. 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

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." (Jonah 3:1-10 KJV)

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.

12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." (Matthew 12:40-41 KJV)

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.

Jaffa, Israel 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.

10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord?

And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa." (Acts 10:1-8 KJV)

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.

11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: 11:13 And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:1-18 KJV)

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?
See the series of ten studies beginning with The Way To Salvation: Step 1


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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.


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Copyright © Wayne Blank