Monday, November 30, 2009

That Day

Malachi 4:1-2
(1) "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
(2) But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

This is at the end of the English Old Testament. The Hebrew Old Testament actually ended with Chronicles, but this is still a high note for us to end on. Here we see that there is judgment coming, but that there is a way out of it. I take the "sun of righteousness" to refer to Christ.

Whose name do you fear? Your boss? Your spouse? Your parents? It is of course good to treat folks with respect. Ultimately we need to fear the name of the Lord. Is that where your focus is? If not, what is stopping you?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Building Sandcastles

Malachi 1:4
(4) If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the LORD of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called 'the wicked country,' and 'the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.'"

When I read this I think of my daughter building a sandcastle a little too close to the ocean. She can get all kinds of sand piled up. Yet nothing will stand against the waves when they come in. No matter how hard she tries the ocean always wins.

It's the same way when we fight against God. He is always going to win in the end. We may build up what He wants to be torn down and in the end He will tear it down. The verses before this passage talk about how God loved Jacob, but He hated Esau. This does not refer to emotions in the sense we would usually take for "love" and "hate," but refers to preference.

This is a reminder to me of what an incredible privilege it is to be a chosen child of God. If you are His, rejoice in that fact. As we come off the time for national Thanksgiving, this is something for which we all should be particularly thankful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Coming King

Zechariah 9:9
(9) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Anyone who has ever been to church on Palm Sunday should recognize this passage. As Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem He rode on a donkey's colt. What are the chances of this happening by accident? I'd say that they were pretty slim.

Of course, one might make the argument that this happened because He wanted to fulfill the prophecy. In other words, the situation was contrived so that it would happen that way. But how was it even possible for it to happen that way? How was it sufficient to simply say that "the Lord has need of it" when the owner of the colt asked what the disciples were doing? I would maintain that it was God's providence in guiding the whole thing.

This is the God who is in heaven. This is the God who created everything and who rules over all things. The God who can make prophecy come true hundreds of years after it was recorded. That is the God I want to worship.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What We Do

Zechariah 7:5-6
(5) "Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?
(6) And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

This reminds me of a passage in the New Testament as well:

1 Corinthians 10:27-31
(27) If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
(28) But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience--
(29) I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?
(30) If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
(31) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The context of the New Testament passage is a bit different because it is talking about matters of conscience. However, the point is that whatever we do it is to be for the glory of God. That should be the overriding focus of our lives.

This passage in Zechariah really condemns those who were not living with proper motives. It's easy to take care of the externals. Going to church each week is pretty easy if you get into the habit. Tithing is not difficult if you change your attitude a little bit. However, doing these things for God is a lot harder.

I think of this with my diet and exercise. I fought a long battle with gluttony and laziness. Yet through it all it was easy to get caught up in doing it for myself. God would get the credit for helping me, but I really was just glad to be losing weight and getting more fit. I still struggle with that.

Ultimately our fasts should be for God's glory. We may reap benefits from them, but they need to be God-centered. I take fasting to go beyond just food as well. It could be abstaining from anything good in the pursuit of Someone better.

Who do you fast for?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Creating the Temple

Zechariah 6:12
(12) And say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.

This passage should take us back to Jeremiah. Whenever we see "Branch" mentioned we should think of the coming Messiah as predicted by the prophets and as fulfilled in Christ. Zechariah is giving us a prophecy of the coming Messiah and what He will do.

So what I wonder is whether this has to do with a literal temple that is coming, or if this refers to the temple at the very end where everyone will come and worship. I have a hard time seeing how the future temple relates to Israel as they are understood in the Old Testament sense. Instead, I see it as a place of worship for everyone who is in Christ.

I don't have any particularly profound applications or truths to apply from my reading today, so all you get are these musings. I'd be interested to read thoughts on this around the blogosphere.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Clean Garments

Zechariah 3:1-5
(1) Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
(2) And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?"
(3) Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.
(4) And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."
(5) And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.

This passage is just pregnant with meaning for us who are on this side of the cross. The next time you read through the Old Testament and you feel like you're really slogging through Leviticus, I hope that this passage helps you to see the point. Joshua's garments had excrement on them. This would make the high priest unable to offer sacrifices.

Similarly, we naturally stand before God this way. We cannot clean ourselves up. I think of how my 2 year-old tries to clean himself. All he does is smear peanut butter around his face. It takes mom or dad with a wet washcloth to get him really clean.

That is how God's grace works in our lives. There is nothing we can do on our own. Yet God in His grace chose to clothe us with clean garments. Now we can stand before Him. If you are in Christ have you considered this? If you are not in Christ, please consider your attempts to clean up your own life. Are you perfect yet? If not, there is still work left to do and only Christ can do it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Zechariah 2:13
(13) Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

This verse comes at the end of a vision about the Lord's judgment. The vision shows just how powerful He is and what He is able to do. This verse is a logical consequence of seeing the Lord's power.

How are you doing with this command? As for me, I could improve on this. I am great at doing, but not so much at being silent. The closest I come is when I go running in the mornings. Even then my mind wanders to trivial things like today's football game or some other matter.

The Lord has indeed roused Himself from His holy dwelling. He became a man, lived a perfect life, and died as an atonement for our sin. That should certainly lead to praise and to holy living, but it should also lead to quiet reverence at His majesty, amen?

Friday, November 20, 2009

He is Faithful

Zechariah 1:6
(6) But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us."

The Lord is faithful. Chris Tomlin (among others) sings a great song about this. The chorus goes like this:

Forever You are faithful,
Forever You are strong,
Forever You are with us,

Isn't that beautiful? Whenever I hear that song I am of course reminded of God's covenant faithfulness. I'm reminded of how He has brought me through so many self-inflicted storms. I'm reminded of the work He has done in my life and it fills my heart with praise.

However, this verse touches on another side of God's faithfulness that we may not usually consider. He is not just a grandfather in the sky who winks at iniquity. He is also faithful to do what He says He will do to those who disobey Him. Israel learned about this the hard way.

The good news for us is that we are on the other side of the cross. God has taken out all of His just wrath on His Son if we will accept this gift. Otherwise, He is going to remember our iniquity and it won't be pretty.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Value in Trials

Haggai 2:15-17
(15) Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the LORD,
(16) how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty.
(17) I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the LORD.

I realize that I keep writing about this, but that's only because it keeps showing up in the Minor Prophets (or the Twelve, if you want to go with the Hebrew name). God uses trials to bring us to Him. Sadly, this doesn't seem to work all the time.

What I see is that folks were just as narcissistic then as they are now. If something doesn't seem to immediately benefit us then we cannot see its value. I can remember going through trials as a child and my dad would say that it is "character-building." Of course, a child doesn't really understand that, but I do now. God uses trials to build our character and bring us to Him.

This is easy to write about here in the comfort of my home with nothing pressing on me right now. But I think now is the time to consider such things before the pressures do mount because they certainly will someday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God's People

Zephaniah 3:12-13
(12) But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD,
(13) those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid."

This comes just after God declares His impending judgment on the world. It won't be pretty in the day that God gathers the nations to feel His wrath. Yet here is a wonderful promise about the remnant that He will preserve.

Are we a people "humble and lowly?" If we are in Christ then we absolutely must be. How else can we be? We were set free from our lives of sin. Though we still sin, we are forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Christ. God has given us new natures that we could not manufacture in ourselves because of our natural bents toward sin.

God did all of this in us and we deserved none of it. If we are not humble and lowly then I don't think we really understand the gospel at all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Calvinist Call

Zephaniah 2:1-3
(1) Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation,
(2) before the decree takes effect --before the day passes away like chaff-- before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD.
(3) Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.

Calvinists are often accused of having a theology that is anti-evangelism. Critics figure that if God has an elected people chosen before the beginning of time then there is no point in telling people the gospel. I think that the only thing it changes is our language. I don't think it is wise to speak about God's will with any kind of absolute certainty since we don't know who He chose for salvation. However, we can still evangelize with confidence because we know that it is God who saves and not our own cleverness.

Zephaniah seems to have that kind of perspective in this passage. He is calling folks to repent, but he also acknowledges that not all will be hidden. He also knows that the day of the Lord is coming on the Lord's time, not mankind's. Therefore, we had better repent sooner rather than later.

Are you ready for the day of the Lord's anger? If you wonder what's taking Him so long I would refer you to 2 Peter 3:9. God is gathering all of His elect and then He is coming back in glory. Are you going to be ready for that?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Great Offer

I am organizing a bulk purchase of BibleWorks 8. Please let me know if you would like to get in on this. The bulk purchase will lower the price from $350 to $250. This is the premier exegesis software for the PC. If you do any work with the original languages you will want to buy a copy. So far I have 5 of the 10 I need to do this, so please let me know if you are interested. You can also read the blurb I put on my seminary blog here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Will Rejoice

Habakkuk 3:17-19
(17) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
(18) yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
(19) GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

This is the very end of Habakkuk and we see that he has learned a valuable lesson. He has done a 180 from his previous lament. He wondered earlier why God ran the universe the way He does. Now he realizes that God deserves praise no matter what is happening.

I'll be honest about suffering. I've never really suffered a whole lot. My senior year in high school was pretty miserable because I didn't get along very well with my stepmother. It was no fun when my parents divorced and I was in 7th grade. We had a molar pregnancy in between Lily and Noah. None of these things were good to go through.

The only one that I endured as a Christian was the molar pregnancy. Looking back, I think it was much harder on Amanda than it was on me. I think it was hard on me only in that I didn't want to see Amanda suffer so much. At any rate, it was nothing like a cancer diagnosis or losing one of our children to disease or accident.

My point is that my experience does not carry much weight, but it seems to me from the clear reading of Scripture that we are to rejoice at all times. There will be times when the fig tree does not blossom. The Christian life is not all happy-clappy joy joy. Trials will happen. I may not have suffered through the worst that this fallen world can throw at me, but I stand on the authority of God's Word that the proper response is still rejoicing.

Of course, that is impossible apart from knowing Christ. Unless we are in Christ God is just a capricious monster who pulls the wings off of flies. But if we do know Him, we can trust that God is a loving Father who knows what is best even when we don't.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

iPhone Bible App

I've been using the same mobile Bible app for a long time now. In fact, I've read the whole ESV on it more than once. What I really like is the ability to do highlighting and note taking. Plus, I understand that they are working on getting syncing working between the PC and the iPhone.

You can check it out here. Olive Tree may do a few things that this one doesn't just yet, but I think that it is a nicer interface and a smoother reader.

Waiting for Judgment

Habakkuk 2:2-4
(2) And the LORD answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
(3) For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
(4) "Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

I'm having a conversation over at this blog about the nature of God's judgment and how we respond to the problem of evil. There are some obvious theological differences that I am going to have with that blog's author, but I don't think that we're too awfully far apart. At any rate, I think it is interesting to find myself in Habakkuk today in light of that discussion.

Habakkuk lamented to God about the problem of evil. He also wondered why the wicked were allowed to perish. He saw the Babylonians and wondered how God could allow such things to happen to His people. The verses above are God's response.

Basically, God is telling Habakkuk and us that we need to wait and trust in His timing. He will take care of the wicked. If we are righteous then we will have to live by faith. Of course, we are not righteous except for the imputed righteousness of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. That's important to note lest we become puffed up in our pietism.

At any rate, the answer is not that we need to understand. In fact, I don't think that we will ever really understand why things work out the way we do. I think it is foolish to attribute reasons to a Hurricane Katrina or the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. What I do know is that all deserve to die, but it is by God's common grace that we do not. I'm going to trust the God who saved me that He has a plan bigger than I can get my mind around. Besides, who wants to worship a God that he can completely understand?

Monday, November 09, 2009

God Is...

Nahum 2:3
(3) The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished.

The Church of Oprah and other vague spiritualities like to emphasize the fact that God is love. It is true that God is loving. As I've written before, we have a hard time imagining just what His hesed is all about. We can get parts of it, but we can't really comprehend it.

This passage tells us that there is a side of God that you don't want to be on. One theory about the color of these shields is that they are red from getting bloody in battle. In other words, they remain red because the blood of God's enemies is regularly splashed on them. I'm not sure how that fits into Oprah's image of her god.

The book of Nahum is a prophecy against Nineveh. While the city did repent in the days of Jonah they turned back to their evil ways and God used Nahum to proclaim a judgment against them. God always takes wickedness seriously.

This is why it is so important to come to the cross and live. Apart from the saving work of Christ we are as doomed as Nineveh was. I'd rather be behind the warriors with the bloody shields than in front of them, wouldn't you?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Honor the Triune God

I get a daily devotional with Scripture arranged as prayer. This is a really good one. If you are interested in subscribing you can click here.

I must give honor to the three persons in the Godhead distinctly, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that great and sacred Name into which I was baptized and in which I assemble for religious worship, in communion with the universal church.

I adore you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, Matthew 11:25(ESV) and the eternal Word, who was in the beginning with God and was God, through him all things were made, and without him was not any thing made that was made; John 1:1-3(ESV) and who in the fullness of time Galatians 4:4(ESV) became flesh and dwelt among us and showed his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14(ESV)

And since it is the will of God that all men should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father, John 5:23(ESV) I adore him as the radiance of his Father’s glory and the exact imprint of his nature; Hebrews 1:3(ESV) herein joining with the angels of God, who were all bidden to worship him. Hebrews 1:6(ESV)

I pay homage to the exalted Redeemer, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth, Revelation 1:5(ESV) confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:11(ESV)

I also worship the Holy Spirit, the Helper, whom the Son has sent from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, John 15:26(ESV) and who is sent to teach me all things and to bring all things to my remembrance; John 14:26(ESV) who indited the Scriptures, holy men of God writing them as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21(ESV)

The Solution to Evil

Nahum 1:7-8
(7) The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
(8) But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.

A lot of folks have a problem with the God of the Bible because of the problem of evil. They wonder how a good God could allow so much suffering and evil in the world. Why doesn't He eradicate it?

I would say that these folks are being too small-minded. We all naturally tend to think of this world and experiences within it. They are looking for some kind of earthly justice. God has something much bigger in mind. They will suffer eternally for their evil, while the good will enjoy fellowship with Him forever.

Keep in mind that there is no one good, so this would be a real problem if we were left on our own. However, one who was perfectly good stepped in our place to take God's wrath for us. Christ died on the cross so that we might be reckoned among the righteous.

In the end, we don't really want a just God as we understand justice. We want a gracious God. The good news is that perfectly describes the true and living God in heaven.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Making it Happen

Micah 5:2
(2) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

It's one thing to make prophecies that are general. Nostradamus' work sometimes takes a little mental gymnastics to fit into what seem to be fulfillments. Then you have the work of St. Malachy, who is hopefully right that the Papacy is winding up. Either way, his work takes some mental gymnastics too. If you squint just right you can see where he has been right through the years.

While there is some prophecy like that in Scripture, this verse is not one of them and it shows us just how incredible the Bible is as an inspired text. Plus, it's hard for us to imagine just how small Bethlehem was. We may sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" at Christmas, but the smallness is almost inconceivable to us now. Think of the smallest little country town you can think of. In today's terms, Bethlehem might have had a blinking light to mark the town center, but certainly would not have had a full-fledged traffic light. It would have been just a few hundred people at best.

What would be the chances of two kings coming from that town? I'd say pretty small. Yet that is what happened. David was born there and ended up being Israel's most faithful king. Then Jesus was born there to a virgin girl. What humble beginnings for the earthly ministry of the king of the Jews! This is especially remarkable when you consider that He has existed with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit through all eternity past. To go from being part of the creation of the universe to a baby in a tiny backwater town is humility indeed. This helps to give me some context for Philippians 2 as well.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Don't Suffer Shipwreck

This was today's daily Tozer. It fits in pretty well with the other post from today:

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck....
--1 Timothy 1:18-19

Yet the ministry is one of the most perilous of professions. The devil hates the Spirit-filled minister with an intensity second only to that which he feels for Christ Himself. The source of this hatred is not difficult to discover. An effective, Christ-like minister is a constant embarrassment to the devil, a threat to his dominion, a rebuttal of his best arguments and a dogged reminder of his coming
overthrow. No wonder he hates him.

Satan knows that the downfall of a prophet of God is a strategic victory for him, so he rests not day or night devising hidden snares and deadfalls for the ministry. Perhaps a better figure would be the poison dart that only paralyzes its victim, for I think that Satan has little interest in killing the preacher outright. An
ineffective, half-alive minister is a better advertisement for hell than a good man dead. So the preacher's dangers are likely to be spiritual rather than physical, though sometimes the enemy works through bodily weaknesses to get to the preacher's soul. God Tells the Man Who Cares, 90-91.

"Lord, the battle is intense and the enemy is strong. I pray for every one of my fellow-servants this morning, especially those who may be close to succumbing. Give Your great grace and victory today. Amen."

Tickling Their Ears

Micah 2:11
(11) If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, "I will preach to you of wine and strong drink," he would be the preacher for this people!

I suppose it would be easy to use this verse out of context as a proof-text for complete abstinence from alcohol. I don't think that is what Micah is doing here, and neither does the author of the notes in the ESV Study Bible. Instead, what Micah is saying is that anyone who preaches to the desires of the people would be very popular.

I am amazed at the chronological snobbery of those who think that the Bible is outdated. While our technology has improved I don't think human nature is any different. Osteen's latest book is proof of that. We are no different from those folks from so long ago. We want people to validate what own desires as being godly. Instead we should be looking to God's Word to change our desires.

That's easier said than done. Preaching that way will garner no private jets. However, I think that the reward in heaven will be worth it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Misplaced Anger

Jonah 4:9
(9) But God said to Jonah, "Do you do well to be angry for the plant?" And he said, "Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die."

This is the end of Jonah's pity party for himself. He really wanted to see God rain fire down on Nineveh, but they repented and God relented. He preached his message, but he didn't really want for them to believe it. Instead he wanted the hated Ninevites to perish.

I'm very glad that God doesn't look at us the way we look at each other. I'm sure that there are plenty of folks who wish that I had never believed the gospel. If we turn it around it gets even more interesting. Suppose that Osama Bin Laden repents and believes in Christ. How would we react? Would we treat him with compassion or would we have Jonah's attitude?

I'd like to think that I would accept him as a brother, but I'm not sure. I don't trust my heart enough to say one way or the other. I also would hope that I could get past my own selfish needs and look to the salvation of his soul as more important. Jonah was more concerned about his comfort than he was about the salvation of Nineveh. I have to ask myself about my own approach to the world. Do I care more about my comfort or about reaching the lost with the gospel?

It's easy to read this passage and look down my nose at Jonah. What I find is that the passage can also be a mirror that convicts me of the same attitude at times.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Jonah 2:8-9
(8) Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
(9) But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!"

This is the end of Jonah's prayer from inside the fish/whale. Incidentally, the Hebrew word is a bit ambiguous, but I think it's safe to say that there was some kind of large sea-going animal that swallowed and later vomited Jonah. This is one of those things that seems awfully ridiculous to the skeptic, but apparently so does creation ex nihilo

I just want to emphasize this passage because it continues the drumbeat of the prophets. Salvation is from the Lord. The Lord saves us because we can't save ourselves. If we instead turn to idols we forsake the hesed of God. How ridiculous! This would be like giving my family a Wii for Christmas and Lily wanting to spend all of her time playing with a bag that holds the controller. It's absurd, yet it's what we do.

Of course, salvation implies that there is something we need to be saved from. We are no different than the Ninevites that were in line for God's wrath. We deserve judgment. Yet in His incredible hesed He chooses to save some.

Perhaps you're reading this and you don't know if you are chosen for salvation. You may wonder what chance you have. Well, if this is something that you are thinking about and earnestly desire then I would say you have your answer. Genuine salvation is a heart-change. What is the most earnest desire of your heart?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wartime Conversions

Jonah 1:14-16
(14) Therefore they called out to the LORD, "O LORD, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you."
(15) So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.
(16) Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

We diagrammed Jonah 1 in Hebrew class on Thursday and this happened to come up in my slow walk through the prophets, so I thought I'd comment on something. Earlier in the chapter we see that each man was calling out to his own god. By the time the storm really got going and they learned more about Jonah and the God that he supposedly serves, they were convinced that their own gods could do nothing to save them.

This is bolstered by the language used. Earlier in the chapter each man was calling out to elohim, or gods in general (though this is sometimes used for YHWH). But by this point in the chapter they are calling out to YHWH. In other words, they realized the futility of their own gods and saw their need for the One True God.

As professing American Christians we tend to look down our collective noses at the ignorance of these sailors and are glad that they came to see the light as we have. I would submit that these sailors had a deeper and truer faith than most in the pews this Sunday morning. We may not have the same names for our gods that these men did, but we tend to be just as guilty.

Take away someone's job and see how he reacts. Does he trust God or does he get upset because you've removed his idol? Downgrade his car. Replace his wardrobe with one from the thrift store or from Wal-Mart. See what he thinks.

Take away someone's coffee. Take away the fine food that they enjoy, or at least reduce the quantity significantly. See how that goes over.

Take away the NFL. What would our nation do on Sunday afternoons in the fall? Take away Division I football or basketball and see how it goes over.

And so on. We all have to fight idolatry at some level. Let's not look down at these formerly pagan sailors, but let's emulate the deep faith that they developed in YHWH.