|Volume 21 Number 10 October 2019||
Almost everyone knows the name Jonah. Most know that he tried to run from God and was swallowed by a large fish. After three days, God had the fish throw Jonah up. Jonah, then, went to the great city of Nineveh and preached to them. All of those in Nineveh, including the King, were converted by Jonah’s message.
The account of Jonah is primarily to show that the Lord cares about all men. He wants all men to be saved. Even as bad as the Assyrians were, God wanted them to be saved. There are others in the Book of Jonah who were saved as well. Not much is ever said about them.
Jonah hired a ship to take him to Tarshish. He thought going that far from Israel would get him away from the Lord. The Lord sent a mighty storm. The sailors all called to their gods. Of course, there was no answer. They cast lots to see who had caused the storm. The Lord gave the answer. The sailors wanted to know who he was. It seems from that question that Jonah may have been wearing a disguise. They could not recognize he was a Hebrew.
When he told them that he was a Hebrew and served the Lord, the sailors were afraid. Jonah told them to throw him overboard if they wanted to be saved. They did not want to do that, but no matter how hard they tried, they could not bring the boat to land. It is interesting that at this point the sailors address the Lord. Non-Jews are never recorded as addressing God as the Lord. That title was reserved for those in the Mosaic covenant. So, it is very possible that these sailors were Jews who had fallen away from God.
Eventually, the sailors decided to do what Jonah had suggested. They threw Jonah into the sea. As soon as that was done, the storm stopped. Then, we are told that the sailors feared the Lord exceedingly. More importantly, they offered sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. This would indicate that they were brought back to the Mosaic covenant. Even if they were not really Jews, it is a fact that through Jonah’s actions, these sailors were converted and had a relationship with the Lord. Sometimes bad actions can have unexpected consequences. God cared about these sailors as much as he cared about the Assyrians.
Study your Bible. Learn about the Lord. Obey Him, and if any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.
Donald R. Fox
The word “foe” is defined as “an adjective signifying hated, hateful, or hostile, is used also as a noun denoting an enemy, translated ‘foes’ in Matthew 10:36…” (Vine’s). Satan is our greatest foe because of the insidious devices he uses in order to entrap us. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1 Peter 5:8).
Some of us can remember the great impact on our lives and on our relationship with our immediate family as we chose to follow our Lord in a scriptural way. Close, normal family ties became stressful, and in some cases, they became hateful—thus true to what our Lord predicated.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-38)
We wonder how many have denied and failed to be obedient to our Lord because of a greater love for family than for our Savior. For some of us, our Lord’s teaching (Matthew 10:37) carries great anguish and distress because of the dividing of family. From my own personal knowledge and experience, this is sadly true. Can you visualize a great love and close ties of a family broken because of one’s acceptance of the true faith in Christ Jesus? We must remember however, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Love for God must be paramount in our lives. “…Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Compare what Jesus said, recorded in Matthew 10:37. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
This is one of the “hard sayings” of Christ. Luke’s account phrases it even more bluntly. “If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Actually, these accounts (Matthew and Luke’s) have identical meanings; by comparison, one learns that “hate” as used in this context actually means “to love less.” It does not imply malice or vicious hatred in the ordinary meaning of the word. An Old Testament example is Jacob’s “hatred” of Leah (Genesis 29:31), which can only mean that he loved her less than Rachel. The teaching in this place is simply that Christ must be first in the lives of those who would truly follow him. (Coffman)
“Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within” (Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616).
Coffman, James Burton. James Burton Coffman Bible Study Library. CD-ROM. Abilene: ACU Press, 1989.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. CD-ROM. Nashville: Nelson, 1985.