Thursday, August 24, 2017

Timeless Truths: Who, Me? or A Fish, a Worm, and a Wrong Direction - Conclusion

This is the conclusion to number 2 in the series of 5 baccalaureate blog posts.
Originally presented June 10, 1984
Last week you read Jonah's Diary. 
This week we review the story with:
The e-mails from Jonah to his friend

June 1 – 10:00PM
Hey, Vern. Just heard from God. He wants me to go to Ninevah! Yeah, that Ninevah! And preach! Just thought I’d let you know what’s going on.

June 3 – 11:00PM
Thanks for the advice! What do you know about preaching anyway? And, you ever been to Ninevah? Those folks are pagans! I’m thinking about going to Spain for a while.

June 5 – 7:00AM
I’m here at the dock, waiting for the boat for Spain. I know you think I’m stupid for trying this, but I can’t believe God really wants anyone to preach to Ninevah (especially me!). Gotta go.

June 9 – 10:33PM
The boat’s okay, Vern. It smells a little, but I can’t tell if it’s fish or the sailors! I’m going to bed now. The sailors say it feels like a storm’s coming on. Personally, I don’t notice any big change in the up/down, up/down, up/down motion of this thing.

June 10 – 6:00AM
Whoa! This is a BIG storm. The sailors woke me up. They are really scared. They think some god is causing the storm, because it’s so big. I told them God was probably causing it, and they should toss me overboard. They looked shocked. They’ve tossed a bunch of stuff overboard already. Oops. Gotta go. Looks like I’m in the next load to go overboa—

June 10 – 6:30AM
Wow! I didn’t think this device was waterproof. I’m happy it is. And I’m really happy I got that wireless Internet service. You’re not gonna believe this, but I’m inside a fish. Really! The sailors tossed me into the drink, and this giant fish gulped me down. I KNOW why it smells in here.

June 12 – 8:00AM
Vern, I’m really tired of being inside this fish. I’m glad you think it’s a grouper. I never realized you were an ichthyologist. (I had to use my thesaurus on that one!) I’m tired of being in here! I’ve prayed my brains out, but God’s not listening. Oh-oh! Something’s rumbling. Gotta g—

June 12 – 8:15AM
What a ride! Did you know fish could vomit? I’m here on shore. After I shower and get some new clothes, I’m heading for Ninevah. I guess God was listening while I was inside the fish. And I guess He really does want someone (meJ) to preach in Ninevah.

June 20 – 9:00AM
Well, Vern, here I am at the city gate of Ninevah. Looks HUGE from out here. I’ve decided I’m going to walk once through the whole place down the main street. I’m gonna “tell it like it is” to these heathens. Then God can send down fire and brimstone on ‘em all!

June 22 – 6:00PM
This is a BIG city. I just got to the other side. You know what’s weird? These people actually listened to me. I’m not kidding. There King even decreed some big day of mourning and repentance because I said God was going to destroy the city and all of them! I think God’s gonna let them off the hook. That’s just like God, and it’s really disgusting.

June 23 – 12:00noon
This is the worst day yet! Even worse than inside that stinking fish! Not only is God going to NOT punish the Ninevites because they repented, the nice shade vine I’ve been living under was eaten by a worm last night. I’m melting in the scorching sun all because I did what God wanted. I’m telling you, Vern, it’d be better if I died than if I lived.

June 30 – 11:59PM
Sorry it’s been so long between e-mails. Mostly I’ve been sitting and thinking. Of course, some of the sitting was on a camel. Yeah, I’ve hooked a ride back home. I’m not sure what I’ll do now that I’m home, but I know I DON’T want to be a preacher!

July 2 – 6:00PM

Yo, Vern! I just got home from my new job. I’m working at a travel agency. I figure I know for sure some places to make sure our customers never go! Hey, after I work here for a month, I get a free trip. Maybe I’ll come you’re way. Oh, yeah. You were probably right about God knowing best.

Conclusion begins here.

    1.   Jonah sleeps through the storm (See also Matt 8: 23-27)
Jonah’s story has several parallels with episodes of the life of Christ. This is one of those parallels. The outcome of the episode recorded above is drastically different than the Jonah version.
(#1 was the end of last week's blog post.")

    2.   Sailors are appalled that Jonah would lie to God (See also Acts 5:1-11 for the story of Ananias and Sapphira).
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
In this passage you can see why the sailors were fearful. Even though the event recorded above happened about 800 years after Jonah’s escapade, word of “The God of the Hebrews” was known throughout the Holy Land in Jonah’s time.
     3.   Sailors are terrified when Jonah's prophecy of the storm stopping comes true - they offer sacrifices to God.
    4.   During Jonah's prayer from inside the fish, HE NEVER REPENTS.
    5.   When the Ninevites repent and call upon God, He spares them - God always keeps His promises.
    6.   Jonah pouts.
    7.   The end of The Book of Jonah never resolves anything. We never know if Jonah changed his attitude.

Many of you have the same kind of unresolved attitudes; you are unrepentant. 
  • God has given you the right to have bad attitudes. 
  • He will not force you to do anything. 
  • He will allow you to be stubborn as long as you want.
I can't recreate the cards from the original trick. I know what happens. I just can't figure out how to make the cards so they do what they did when I did it. Therefore, I'll annotate the commentary below.

The alternative in this post were the e-mails from Jonah.

Remember the cards in the book cover? Good. Let's see how well you remember. 
Name the colors on the cards IN THE ORDER WE DID THE FIRST TIME! 
As you call them out I’ll take them from inside the book cover.

Students: RED
What students saw.

Me: Correct.

Students: GREEN
What students saw.

Me: Correct again.

Students: YELLOW. 
What students saw.
Me: Wrong. [the card pulled out was RED]

Me: What? Use the either side? Ok. [I turned the card over]
What students saw.

Me: Wrong again. [Turning that card around revealed RED again.]

Too bad, you were doing sooo well, too.

Because of the "trick," no one ever gets the last card color correct. Everybody is wrong.

  • Jonah made a wrong choice.
  • You all just made a wrong choice.
  • We will never know what finally happened to Jonah, but each of YOU control happens to your life.

The wrong choice you just made makes no difference in the pattern of choices that is your life. 

However, there is ONE choice that you must make that will ultimately determine YOUR eternal destiny. 


  • At the trial for Jesus life, Pilate tried to wash his hands of that decision.
  • At the foot of the cross where they crucified Jesus, the Centurion realized the true nature of the ONE hanging on the middle tree when he said, "Truly, this man must be the Son of God."
  • One of the thieves crucified with Jesus called on Him to save them both. He decided to go with Jesus only if He would prove He was a winner.
  • The other thief chose to accept Christ for what He had shown Himself to be. The second thief was promised Paradise by the Son of God.

It is my prayer for you—Class of 1984—that you all will make the choice to follow Christ all the way to Paradise. [That’s still my prayer for you today-August 2017]

As you graduate, God bless you in all of your choices.

  • Don’t ask, "WHO, ME?" like Jonah. Accept that He wants you and go and be a disciple of the Master.
  • Don’t make “the Wrong Choice.” And don’t blame whatever “Fish” or “Worms” that end up in your life for your choices.

In the Book of Revelation, Chapter 3, verse 20, Christ is speaking,
"Be in earnest then, and turn from your sins. Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house."

  • The door mentioned in the verse is the door to your soul.
  • You must ALLOW God into your life, the house mentioned in the verse. 
  • Christ will not barge in. You have to open the door to your soul.


Next Timeless Truths:  Dropping the Stone

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