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Thursday, December 13 2012
What Did Jesus Christ Send Jonah And Paul To Do?
Jonah and the apostle Paul were Israelites who lived many centuries apart, but their ministries had a number of similarities. Jonah and Paul were personally called by "the LORD God" (i.e. Jesus Christ; see The Kingdom Of The LORD God) and sent with the Gospel message to Gentiles. Both Jonah and Paul experienced a near-fatal storm at sea during their ministries, from which both of them miraculously survived after the LORD appeared to them during the storm. By the end, both Jonah and Paul had successful ministries to Gentiles, despite, before they were called, both of them having regarded Gentiles as heathens, unworthy of salvation.
"The word of the LORD came unto Jonah"
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 [see What Does Word of God Mean To You?] 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." (Jonah 1:1-2 KJV)
Tarshish is regarded to be a Sanscrit or Aryan word, meaning the sea coast. It's unclear where that particular Tarshish was located, however it would seem obvious that it was neither in Israel or Assyria/Babylon.
"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." (Jonah 1:3 KJV)
The incident of Jonah and the "great fish," including the repentance of Nineveh thereafter, was used as the only "sign" of the Messiah: "12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 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 12:39-41 KJV)
There were however other parallels e.g. The Messiah's "8:24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 8:25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish" (Matthew 8:24-25 KJV) and Jonah's "1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep." (Jonah 1:5 KJV). Another was Jonah's "1:14 Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee." (Jonah 1:14 KJV) and the Messiah's "27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that." (Matthew 27:3-4 KJV).
"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. 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them.
Whatever the fish was, whether literal "great fish," or a submarine version of a "chariot of fire" such as had taken Elijah away, "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
"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 1:17 KJV)
More parallels between Jonah's three days and three nights, and the Messiah's three days and three nights in the Tomb (see also The Two Sabbaths Of Passover Week):
"2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, 2:2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 2:3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 2:4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 2:5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?]: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 2:7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 2:9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
Jonah then obeyed the LORD. He went to Nineveh and succeeded in getting the city, of that time, 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 Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome"
Paul is first recorded as an anti-Christian Pharisee. After his conversion however (see The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas and The Ministry Of Paul And Barnabas) Paul came to understand the great knowledge that he possessed. That enlightenment immediately caused him to come into conflict with those with whom he had persecuted Christians. Upon his return to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, Paul was arrested by the Romans because of the riot that the religious council had instigated against Paul.
"23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees [see also The Passed Over Pharisees], he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
During his "trial" before the Roman occupation governors, Paul, as a Roman citizen (Paul was born in Roman-occupied Turkey) demanded to appeal his charges to Caesar.
"25:10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 25:11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar [see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars].
So it was the Paul was placed, as a prisoner, on a ship bound for Rome. It was late in the sailing season, at the time when the Mediterranean Sea is subject to powerful autumn storms.
"27:9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast [i.e. the Day of Atonement; see Day of Atonement: The Messiah's Deliverance] was now already past, Paul admonished them, 27:10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. 27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
After being driven across the Mediterranean for days, Paul announced to the otherwise doomed passengers and crew, "I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee."
"27:21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. 27:23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 27:25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 27:26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island." (Acts 27:21-26 KJV)
The miracle was hitting Malta - a big island, but a relatively tiny target in a vast sea, found by a ship that had totally lost its own steering capability. "And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land."
"27:39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. 27:40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 27:41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
Three months later, the castaways continued their voyage to Rome on another ship.
"28:11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria [i.e. the city in Egypt named after Alexander the Great; see A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids], which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. 28:12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. 28:13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: 28:14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. 28:15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him." (Acts 28:11-16 KJV)
Jews had been scattered throughout the Roman Empire. It was natural for Paul to meet with the Jews of the city and explain to them why he had been arrested in Jerusalem and sent to Rome. Their response was, at first, neutral.
"28:17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 28:18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. 28:19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 28:20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
Paul's preaching of the Gospel ("he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets") soon produced a division ("some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not"). Paul then made a statement to them, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it," that no doubt alienated most of those who had accepted what he had been preaching up to that time. Paul had fully emerged as the "apostle to the Gentiles" thereafter and "dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him" - he didn't preach in the Synagogue, he preached from his own house.
"28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 28:24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 28:25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Fact Finder: (a) Was the "Book" (actually a scroll) of Acts itself written by a Gentile - Luke? (b) Did Jesus Christ teach the apostle Peter the same lesson about Gentiles as He taught Jonah - and in the very same city, Joppa, from which Jonah's voyage began?
This Day In History, December 13
558: King Chlothar I reunited the Frankish Kingdom after his brother Childebert I died. Chlothar thereby became sole ruler of the Franks.
1204: Medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon) died at age 69.
1250: Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany and Sicily (see The Holy Roman Empire), died and was succeeded by Conrad IV.
1545: The Council of Trent, summoned by Pope Paul III in 1542, opened to discuss doctrinal matters, especially the rise of Protestantism.
1577: British explorer Sir Francis Drake left England with 5 ships, including the Golden Hind, on his voyage around the world - a journey that took almost 3 years.
1642: New Zealand was discovered by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.
1643: During the English Civil War, the Battle of Alton was fought in Hampshire.
1862: During the U.S. Civil War, General Robert E. Lee with 80,000 Confederates repulsed General Burnside with his 150,000 Federals at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. After hard fighting, Burnside lost almost 14,000 troops.
1916: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), an avalanche killed 10,000 Austrian and Italian troops in Tyrol.
1937: Japanese forces took the Chinese city of Nanking. Over the next 6 weeks, in one of the worse atrocities of the Second World War, they killed an estimated 200,000 Chinese in what became known as the "Rape of Nanking."
1939: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the captain of the German battleship Graf Spee ordered his vessel scuttled after being encircled by 3 British cruisers (Exeter, Ajax and Achilles) off the coast of Uruguay.
1941: During the Second World War, British forces withdrew to Hong Kong island as the invading Japanese army took Kowloon and the New Territories.
1945: France and Britain announced that were leaving Syria and Lebanon.
1949: In defiant response to United Nations and Papal demands to make Jerusalem an "international" city, the Israeli Knesset unanimously approved David Ben-Gurion's proposal that the sovereign legislature of the state of "Israel" (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah and A History Of Jerusalem: The Capital Of Judah) be moved to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv, which it was the next January 1.
1967: King Constantine of Greece and his family fled the country after a counter-coup failed to topple the military-backed government.
1981: In response to the success of the Solidarity Union, Polish communist leader General Wojciech Jeruzelski proclaimed a national emergency and martial law. His action in all probability prevented a Soviet invasion which would have made Solidarity's later victory less likely.
1993: The European Union ratified a treaty creating the world's largest trade bloc, the European Economic Area (EEA).
2000: Al Gore conceded the U.S. Presidential election to George W. Bush, 5 weeks after the very close election was held.
2003: Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (a former U.S. "ally" during the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s) was captured near his home town of Tikrit.