|Volume 18 Number 3 March 2016||
Jonah had one job – go preach to Nineveh. However, Jonah did not want to go. Instead, he decided to board a ship and head to Tarshish, thinking that he could escape the presence of the Lord. While on the sea, God hurled a great wind and brought up a great storm so that all the sailors became afraid. They began tossing the cargo into the sea and praying to their gods, but Jonah was asleep. They cast lots to see whose fault it was that they were in the midst of this great storm, and the lot fell to Jonah, who then instructed them to throw him overboard to stop the storm. The Lord then appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and there he stayed for three days and three nights.
Jonah’s trip to the far country (cf. Luke 15:11-32) did not turn out to be as he had hoped, which is typical of sin. Often, we start down the road because we want to see what it’s like; we want to test the waters. However, once we get started on the road of sin, exits and U-turns are hard to find. Soon enough, we find ourselves encompassed and engulfed (Jonah 2:5).
[Editor’s Note: The youthful pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25; 2 Timothy 2:22), if we are not careful, can last a lifetime. The Bible provides every student of it the opportunity to view the outcome of alternate paths through life that lie ahead. Thereby, one can conscientiously and carefully select the narrow pathway that leads through the narrow gate into eternity where God dwells (Matthew 7:13-14). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
In a world of ever increasing doubt and skepticism, it is only a matter of time before the idea of questioning whether Jesus really lived surfaces again, and this time with more force. With the availability of the Internet, especially social media, it is likely that the issue will surface sooner rather than later. Therefore, we need to be prepared to give an answer. How can we know that Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, really lived? How do we know He is not just a literary character used to teach a moral code? Is there any proof of Him outside of the Scriptures or outside of early Christian literature?
The answer is, “Yes.” There is material that refers to Jesus outside of the Bible and early Christian literature, and it comes from the end of the first century. There are a number who could be cited, but the most prominent is Josephus, a Jewish general who fought in the war with Rome. Yet, later he was adopted into the Flavian family when he predicted that Vespasian would become the Emperor. Thus, Josephus is both a Jewish and a Roman witness to Jesus. Neither the Jews nor the Romans, if you remember, were exactly on good terms with Christians. Josephus wrote about the days when Pontius Pilate was Procurator of Judah, “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men who receive the truth with pleasure… and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day” (Antiquities 18.3.3). Not only do we have testimony of hostile witnesses, but also see how well it measures up to the Scriptures.
Attacks come and go. When this one arises, we should be ready to defeat it.