Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jonah 3:5-9

Jonah 3:5-9
3:5 - Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.

Here is a classic paragraph that is written in the Eastern style: the summary is given first and the expanding/explaining is given in the subsequent verses. Verses 6-9 explain in greater detail just how the events of verse 5 happened.

So, in summary, God's message is received and acted upon by the people of Nineveh, much like the sailors responded to God's message in the storm.

Here is a good place to note what God may have used to soften the Ninevites' hearts to His message:
1. Jonah's appearance. Having been floating in the acidic stomach of a fish, Jonah may have looked like death itself. His skin would probably have been bleached and raw as well as his face, hair and clothes.

2. John MacArthur notes in his study bible that Nineveh also experienced two plagues and a solar eclipse prior to the events of Jonah, which would further prepare Nineveh for Jonah's message.

3:6 - When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.

In one day, the word had reached the entire city and sparked a revival like no other. From the king to the commoner, God produced repentance from Jonah's message. Jonah does the bare minimum, and God does the rest.

The king demonstrates his own repentance by getting off his throne (symbol of authority), laying aside his robe (symbol of comfort), covering himself with sackcloth (symbol of mourning), and sitting on ashes (symbol of repentance).

3:7 - He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.

The king issues a command to the whole city (with the weight of the throne behind it) to fast. Including the animals in the fast was a common custom in Persia for mourning ceremonies, according to MacArthur.

3:8 - But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.

The command of the king continues with direction to don sackcloth, call on God, and repent from their wicked way. It is interesting to note that the city of Nineveh responds to God's second call to repentance - the general call of plagues and eclipse did not achieve the desired response, but the confrontation by one does.

Another interesting thing found here is that while Jonah's message mentions absolutely nothing about the sins/wickedness of the people of Nineveh, the king and the people knew their sin - "turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands". They also knew that they deserved judgment.

Note that Assyria had a reputation for brutality, and Nineveh was the worst of the country. Some of the atrocities committed by the Assyrians included flaying people and covering walls or pillars with their skin, building pillars and walls from heads or corpses, burning captives with fire, cutting off body parts of captives, and mounting heads on pikes around the city. Nineveh was steeped in an absolutely evil and wicked culture.

3:9 - Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

The fear of the Lord has come to Nineveh. The king recognizes the truth of the situation and motivates his people to repent, by God's grace and direction. While the sailors responded to the will of the Lord by initially fighting against it, Nineveh responds immediately in bowing to His will in repentance.

It is interesting that the Ninevites repent with no promise of mercy from the Lord. Perhaps they recognized that since they were given a warning that they could obtain mercy from the same God that gave them the warning.

Paragraph Summary
Here is the climax of the second half of the book and it is similar to the climax of the first half. The apex is once again a form of a question: "Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

While the king and nobles command the signs of repentance: fasting, sackcloth, and prayer, it appears that everyone in Nineveh came to true repentance as we will see the effect in the next verse.

Vacation hamster wheel

Another 1.5 mile run at an 11 min/mile pace. Total time 16:30.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

vacation chest and tris

Second verse, same as the first. Both this workout and Monday's were done circuit style.

Bench press - 3 sets of 65 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Incline bench - 3 sets of 65 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Decline bench - 3 sets of 65 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Plank - 3 sets of 4 x 30 sec/30 sec rest
Flys - 3 sets of 40 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Leg pull in - 3 sets of 13, 14, 15
Tri pull downs - 3 sets of 40 lbs x 10, 11, 12

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Jonah 3:1-4

Jonah 3:1-4
3:1-2 - Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.”

These verses start the second half of the book. An interesting view of Jonah appears due to the introduction to chapter three: the book is divided in two with each half starting with Jonah's commission. The structure is remarkably similar between the two halves.
1. Jonah's commission
2. Jonah's response (flee/obey)
3. The pagan's response to God (salvation for the crew and Nineveh)
4. Jonah's response to God after the fact (relentance in chapter 2, anger in chapter 4)

3:3 - So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk.

Opposed to 1:3, Jonah obeys this time. Nineveh is described as a "great" city in 1:1, 3:2, 3:3, and 4:11. Here we find out that it is massive - a three days walk just to walk around it - upwards of 60 miles in circumference.

3:4 - Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

At first read, it appears that Jonah is doing the bare minimum with his preaching, however, the eight word message may have been all God gave. What is an indicator of Jonah's continued reluctance is that while the city is a three days walk, Jonah spends only one day preaching the message.

Paragraph Summary
God's will is realized as Jonah finally obeys and brings God's message to the city of Nineveh. God once again initiates the events of the second half of the book with the same commission as the first half. God's will has not changed.

Jonah's response, of course, does change. Whether begrudgingly or willingly, Jonah does the will of the Lord. The original audience might have reluctantly admitted that Jonah probably should do as the Lord commanded, but they would have still disagreed with it.

Vacation treadmill

Hamster wheeled 1.5 miles at an 11 min/mile pace. 16:30 total time.
Oh, today is my 25th wedding anniversary. You can send your condolences to Brandy.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vacation back and bicep workout

I'll probably put this in my usual format when I get home. Or maybe not.

Lat pull down - 3 sets of 70 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Machine crunch - 3 sets of 40 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Bench row - 3 sets of 60 lbs x 10, 11, 12
High pulley row - 3 sets of 60 lbs x 10, 11, 12
One arm row - 3 sets of 30 lbs x 10, 11, 12
Torso twist - 3 sets of 20 lbs x 10, 11, 12
2 hand curl - 3 sets of 30 lbs x 10, 11, 12
One hand Drag curl - 3 sets of 35 lbs x 5, 4, 3
Superman - x10, 11, 12

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jonah 2:10 and paragraph summary

Jonah 2:10 and paragraph summary
2:10 - Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

God responds to Jonah's prayer by preserving him and bringing him to dry land. It is not specified where; some people suggest it may have been Joppa, where Jonah first started on his sea journey. It probably wasn't near Nineveh as that trip would have taken the fish out of the Mediterranean sea, around Africa, (both salt water bodies) and up the Tigris/Euphrates river systems (fresh water rivers) in order to dump Jonah at Nineveh's doorstep.

Since the next verse echoes 1:2, it is most likely that Jonah would have been vomited up on the eastern side of the Mediterranean sea and has the same journey to Nineveh ahead of him.

Chapter 2 Notes and Summary
The nation of Israel acted in this same manner when the Lord would bring discipline into their lives. They would turn from their ways only when sufficient pressure was brought by external sources; God's blessing them with peace and prosperity did not turn their hearts to Him in gratitude but rather emboldened them to take Him for granted.

Because God promised to never forsake His chosen people Israel, the nation knew that they could do as they wished and God would always be there. But God is jealous for His people and so brings them back to Him, just as He does with Jonah.

A strange dichotomy exists in the northern kingdom's mindset: They recognize that the Lord is the only living god, but they continue to seek after false gods. Jonah's mindset is similar: The Lord is the only living God and is able to conform all things to His will, but I will fight against it anyways.

Chapter 2 boiled down to a sentence: Salvation is from the Lord.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Beautiful day for a run!

Yes, I was a little out of breath at the end, but I persevered and completed it! Next week, my workouts may be a bit sketchy as I'm going down to Naw'lins with my honey and her grandpa. We'll be visiting the WW2 museum; btw, grandpa doesn't really need to see it...he was there!

But, of course, he does want to see it, so we're taking him and look forward to spending some time with him and Brandy's dad and his wife.

I'm trying something new with the blog; I've scheduled some Jonah posts for the next week just in case you all are looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jonah 2:2-9

Jonah 2:2-9
2:2 - and he said,
“I called out of my distress to the Lord,
And He answered me.
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
You heard my voice.

Psalm 18 comes back to Jonah. He knows that God can hear him from the belly of a fish in the deep. He is also well aware that it is impossible to flee from the presence of the Lord (Psalm 139).

Psalm 18:6 - In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

Psalm 139:7-12 - Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
As noted before, the belly of the fish would have been as close to a real instance of Sheol that anyone could have experienced: total darkness, the smell of death everywhere, probably cold, definitely wet, perhaps burning from the stomach acid. Truly, Jonah's isolation seemed complete.

2:3 - “For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.

Jonah recognizes that this isolation is from the LORD. He has been separated from the only life he knows on the earth and is now in the deeps of the sea.

2:4 - “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight.
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

In the belly of the fish, Jonah feels cut off from God as He allowed him to languish for three days and nights, but despite this act of what seems to be abandonment, Jonah insists that he will look to God for help. Once again, another Psalm comes to Jonah's mind:

Psalm 31:22 - As for me, I said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You.

2:5 - “Water encompassed me to the point of death.
The great deep engulfed me,
Weeds were wrapped around my head.

This echoes Psalm 69:1-2
Save me, O God,
For the waters have threatened my life.
I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.

2:6 - “I descended to the roots of the mountains.
The earth with its bars was around me forever,
But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.

Jonah's description of his imprisonment in Sheol is complete with total and utter isolation behind the bars of the very earth itself. It is no wonder that some commentators think that Jonah actually died and was raised again to life for God's purpose. There is no indication of this in the text, however, Jonah shows that he has been brought very low by the Lord.

This verse can also support that God refused to allow him to die as Jonah recognizes that the LORD has sustained his life in the midst of the pit, or Sheol. Psalm 18:5 comes to mind: The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me.

2:7 - “While I was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.

Very near death, Jonah "remembers" the Lord and cries out in prayer. Imagine your utter helplessness if, in the middle of Sheol as described by Jonah, you cannot even die so as to escape the situation. What ever the end of the rope that Jonah thought he was at and that death would soon take him proved to be false. Three days and nights of waiting for the end to come was fruitless, so now Jonah resigns himself to turn to the Lord.

Once again, Psalm 18:6 comes to mind:
- In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

2:8 - “Those who regard vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,

This can be a difficult verse to interpret. It could be read "Those who worship useless idols forsake the only faithful God (who can do anything for them)."

Once again, the Psalms provide additional help in 31:6 - I hate those who regard vain idols, But I trust in the Lord. The next verse adds some more context.

2:9 - But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.”

Jonah declares his devotion to God and recognizes that salvation is from the Lord. Does this imply that Jonah admits that God can do as He wishes with who He chooses for salvation? Or is it focused on Jonah's personal salvation from the "depths of Sheol"? It is both/and.

The answer is found in Jonah's declaration to "pay what he has vowed" and so bring God's message to Nineveh; in addition to that, he will sacrifice with the voice of thanksgiving for his personal deliverance.

Psalms related to this verse include:
Psalm 50:14 - “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;

Psalm 50:23 - “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me;
And to him who orders his way aright
I shall show the salvation of God.”

Psalm 3:8a - Salvation belongs to the Lord;

Paragraph Summary
This is the end of Jonah's prayer. At this point it appears that the prophet has had a change of heart, but his actions in the next two chapters tells a different story. Relentance, not repentance has come to Jonah; his obedience stems from external motivators rather than from a humble and contrite heart.

Nowhere in this prayer does Jonah turn from his hardened heart or even recognize his wrongful ways. He describes God's heavy hand of discipline, his cries for deliverance, and his final turning to obedience. The rest of the book will bear this out.

My Outlook settings are out of date

Or so my OS overlord tells me.

The gym is closed tomorrow for Good Friday, so I moved this w/o to today and will do a kettlebell home workout tomorrow. Going forward, I think I'll run on Tue/Thu/Sat for now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Must not skip leg day!

I was not sure how much I could comfortably leg press; 180 lbs is about right. I mean, if I weigh over 210 lbs, then I think I should be able to leg press 180...

Next week, I'm going to be on vacation in New Orleans, so hopefully I'll be able to get in some workouts so I'm not a total slob.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another day on the wagon...why am I tired?

I'm not promising that I'll get in all 5 workouts + a run on Saturday...that's just crazy talk! And, yes, I took it easy - don't want to break this old body.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Time's a'wast'n

So I'd better get to it!

Ok, new plan for the tough mudder: skip all the obstacles! Oh, I'll size it up and watch my friends tackle it, then just say, "naaaaaaaaaaah, I'll skip this one..." That will go over well, I'm sure. I'll probably find myself face down in a mud pit by the third challenge...maybe the second.

NEW PLAN! Get in shape!

To implement this NEW PLAN, I decided to move my alarm back to 3:30 AM so that I could get my Bible study in before work. Today is the first day of doing that, and I feel great! I'm hoping that I crash/can get to sleep around 8 or 8:30 tonight to set up the new schedule.

BTW, I'm studying 2nd Timothy, and let me tell you, I think I did more research on the time-locked portion than I did on Jonah! And, I find myself going off on rabbit trails like I did this morning, but they are so worth it!

This morning's distraction stemmed from Paul's assertion in 1:3 that he served God "with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did." Well, since he was from the tribe of Benjamin, I immediately thought of the last two chapters of Judges, where all of Israel rise up to judge the wickedness of the Benjamites. Hmmmmm, must not be those forefathers....

However, it looks like (and I'm not quite done) that Benjamin was fully restored at the split of the kingdom and was instrumental in rebuilding Israel after the Babylonian exile. Ok, so maybe Paul has a point about a faithful ancestry...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jonah 2:1 and paragraph summary

Jonah 2:1 and paragraph summary
2:1 - Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish
The preceding verse must be taken into account when reading this verse. The three days and nights transpired before Jonah finally prayed to the LORD. Jonah's location for this prayer is the stomach of the fish. Jonah finally comes to his senses after all of the Lord's discipline.

Another thought is that after three days and nights, Jonah realized that God would not kill him. This might make more sense given the rest of the book. Jonah doesn't so much want to obey; he just doesn't want to spend any more time in the environment of the fish given that God would continue to sustain his life for an unknown amount of time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jonah 1:17 and Paragraph Summary

Jonah 1:17 and Paragraph Summary
1:17 - And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
Once again, we see the Lord's hand in all of chapter one: the storm, the sailor's actions, and finally, the appointed fish.

Here we find the final stage of the Lord's discipline: isolation. When the general call to repentance, the confrontation by one, and the confrontation by many do not achieve God's desired results, He brings isolation. In Jonah's case, it was absolute isolation: from humanity, from light, from anything resembling life - he rightly describes it as Sheol, the underworld.

It is easy to gloss over the information in this verse without giving it its proper consideration. The second half of the verse is especially relevant in assessing Jonah's heart. It takes three days and nights of isolation in the absolute dark, with the stink of death around him and being near drowning himself for Jonah to finally relent to do God's will.

Three days...Three...days. Three days without light, without fresh air, possibly without food or at least fresh food, only rancid sea water to drink, and the smell of death and decay is inescapable.

And it took Jonah three days of being in this environment to finally relent. How hard, hard, Jonah's heart is toward the will of the Lord and His purposes.

Chapter 1 Notes and Summary
Israelites may have seen themselves in Jonah in that they had been called God's people but instead ran from Him. They would recognize the Judges cycle in this chapter and resolving in the next chapter with Jonah's restoration.

The missionary aspect of chapter one would have been a new revelation of going out to the pagans with the word of the Lord instead of drawing them to the land and converting them. The northern kingdom may have been shamed by the sailor's repentance at the discipline of the Lord when they were unwilling. However, they would probably be in the same place spiritually as Jonah - unrepentant at sparing Nineveh the judgment that their wickedness had brought upon them by the hand of the Lord.

Chapter 1 boiled down to a sentence: God's will, will be done.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Jonah 1:15-16

Jonah 1:15-16
1:15 - So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.
Cause and effect. The lot called out Jonah as the cause of the storm, and Jonah's words in v. 12 predicted the effect of throwing him overboard.

An interesting note: Jonah never speaks falsely. He never tries to hide who he is, what he is doing, what he thinks (revealed later). He is the ultimate hypocrite, though as he says and believes one thing while acting differently.

1:16 - Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
Salvation has come to the ship! The sailors:
1. Feared the one and only God rightly.
2. Offered a sacrifice to the Lord.
3. Made vows (to the Lord, it is assumed).

Paragraph summary
Unlike the unrepentant prophet, the sailors respond to the discipline of the Lord. It is ironic that Jonah refused to go to Nineveh to take the word of the Lord to the city of pagans, but he ends up exposing the pagans of the ship to the word of the Lord and bringing a sort of salvation to them.

The original audience would rightly recognize the repentance of the sailors in the face of Almighty God and would have felt even more justified at Jonah's refusal to go to Nineveh. If God would save ungodly pagan Gentile sailors, He would do the same and more for the ungodly Gentile Ninevites.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Jonah 1:10-14

Jonah 1:10-14
1:10 - Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, "How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
The confrontation by many reaches a crescendo with "How could you do this?", which, given the intensity of the situation, might better be rendered, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS????!?!?!?!!!!"

We find out several things in this verse.
1. Jonah told the sailors the reason for his journey. The sailors probably didn't think much of the information at the time as in their minds, regional gods could be run away from. Of course, when Jonah revealed which God he was running away from, the information became extremely important.

2. The fear of the Lord is put into the sailors' hearts. The evidence surrounds them of this God's power, and they are deeply afraid. What is interesting is that the sailors realize the stark reality of the situation, and Jonah is still in rebellion in the face of all that is happening.

3. All of the questions coalesce into "How could you do this?" The question is loaded with implications and accusations:
How could you put us in danger?
How could you run from this kind of god?
How could you not repent at all that has happened?
How could you not pray for God to relent in the storm?
How could you not care about our livelihood as we tossed the cargo overboard because of the storm?
How could you not even care about our lives???

An interesting contrast is presented here: Jonah says that he fears the Lord and acts differently. The sailors didn't fear the Lord, but when the source of the storm is finally revealed, they display in their question and subsequent actions, the fear of the Lord.

1:11 - So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.
Who better to ask about directions for appeasing the angry god than the one who is angering him?

Two things stand out:
The sailors are asking what they should do to appease Jonah's angry God. They don't plead with Jonah to do something. They don't force Jonah into repentance or prayer for relief from the storm. They recognize that Jonah ain't gonna do squat for them. What a sad reflection on God's prophet.

The second is that the storm continues to not only rage but also grow in intensity. God continues to apply the pressure on Jonah by the means of the storm's effect on the sailors (and Jonah). God continues to call Jonah to repentance throughout this whole chapter. At any time during this discipline, Jonah could have called out in repentance, and I believe, God would have stopped the storm, turned the ship around and proceeded with the plan for Nineveh.

1:12 - He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.”
Jonah is not even willing to throw himself overboard in order to save the crew and the ship!! How hard Jonah's heart is! He is willing to die at the hands of pagan sailors, but is unwilling to sacrifice himself to save them.

Here is the first indication that, as Jonah will voice later, he would rather die than go to Nineveh. I believe that the original audience would view Jonah as being in the right and even as being noble for allowing the sailors to throw him overboard. I believe that they would also be impressed that Jonah would be willing to die rather than allow Nineveh the opportunity to avoid God's judgment on them. They still would be firmly in Jonah's camp.

Note Jonah's passivity. Much like Adam did in the garden, Jonah stands passively by while he has the means and knowledge to stop events from spinning out of control. Adam could have stopped his wife from partaking of the tree, and Jonah could have stopped the storm at any time by turning back to God. Sadly, neither one manned up.

1:13 - However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.
The pagans show a lot of concern for one man (in stark contrast to Jonah's indifference to a lot of souls) as they desperately row to make landfall. But God's storm gets even worse, and they are given no other option but to throw Jonah overboard.

The godless ones act more godly than God's prophet in their efforts to save Jonah from himself, but as they are fighting against God Himself, their efforts are in vain. The original audience may have even snickered at the sailors' attempts to go against the LORD God while not even recognizing Jonah's feeble plan to escape from God's will.

1:14 -  Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”
Finally God's will in this trial is realized in the pagans. They repent of their fighting against God and give in to His will: Throw Jonah into the sea.

They pray for deliverance from the LORD. They pray for forgiveness for the "innocent blood" of Jonah. They recognize that the LORD is doing just as He has pleased. In this short prayer, the sailors display a remarkable understanding of the LORD God and fully repent/relent of their actions.

And Jonah does none of this. God's discipline causes everyone on the ship to turn to Him except the one who is the target of that discipline. Once again, look at how hard Jonah's heart is.

Paragraph summary
This paragraph is the climax of the first section/chapter. The confrontation by many, the raging fury of the storm, and the terrified sailors culminate into the question "How could you do this?" One could almost hear the LORD God Himself asking this question of Jonah as he fights against the all powerful " Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

When the sailors reach the absolute end of everything in their power to do, they turn to the Lord. They, instead of Jonah, cry out to the one true God for deliverance not only from the storm but also from the "innocent blood" of taking Jonah's life. The pagans repent and believe; the prophet does not.