Still working on my reading

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Posted by w0ep on June 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm

[Wednesday run: morning hills in Columbus 3 miles]

I mentioned at the start of the year that I wanted to try out a chapter check-off Bible reading schedule this year.

And I can report that I am still at it. I don’t get it done every day, but I often wake up early and settle in for a few chapters. I am not following a book-order or chronological order. I started in the prophets and got through all of them. I finished most of the OT historical books and I now just finished Genesis and Exodus. I hope to get through the law, Joshua and Judges and that will fill my card up to the Psalms. I think I may be a bit behind for finishing it all in one year. But I will knock it out eventually. Then I’ll have proof that I’ve covered it all at least once.

The book of Jonah is still my favorite, so far. Every time I read it I see something new.

One thing that I thought I saw in Jonah came back up in the various prophetic books and even happens as early as Moses: God tells his prophet to do something, then the prophet may put some personal spin on it or even change what he was commanded to do, and God still comes through with the miraculous result. I used to think that prophets were told strictly what to do and whatever result would only happen if they did their part to the letter. But I see now various instances of interplay where the prophet drives the bus. Sometimes they get in big trouble for that, like when Moses got angry at the second water-from-rock event. But notice that the water still came out.

In Jonah I had wondered if it was a prophetic message to the sailors when Jonah told them to throw him into the ocean or if that was Jonah’s last attempt to escape from the command of God to go preach in Nineveh. The storm did stop; so there is the miraculous result. But I’m not sure that proves it was God’s command. But then the fish was there to swallow him up, so his potential suicide was thwarted?

I think I’ve pointed out before that Jonah’s complaint, which he gives in the book for not wanting to do his job, was that the people he hated might believe and receive grace from God. And throughout the book, everyone Jonah talks to believes everything he says. It’s almost comical. By the time he leaves the sailors they are worshipping God. He doesn’t even have to walk all the way through Nineveh and everyone is repenting and getting right. It depresses him so bad he wants to die. (Sorry guy, you already tried that solution.) That is an upside-down story if I’ve ever heard one. It’s amazing.

I used to think he was upset because the judgment he predicted didn’t come, that it made him look bad. I don’t think that is it now. I think the real problem was that he didn’t think outsiders should have a piece of the action. And I think that is a common problem. Like the evil-obedient-brother in the prodigal son story, they’ve been “good guys” all their lives and it would really piss them off if someone jumped the line at the last minute and God let them get away with it. That’s the self-righteousness that is so easy to develop, yet so fatal.

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  • On June 15, 2019 at 11:35 am Jonathan Howard said

    The Jonah fish story always puzzled me. God used a miracle to save Jonah and thereby save people Jonah preached too. (Unless we think it was not a miracle for a fish to save him in such a way.)

    And we know Jesus used miracles later on.

    If God is okay with using miracles to save Jonah – and use them through Christ – why not use miracle directly to the customer and cut out the middle man?

    But I also grew up thinking common sense has no place in such things. That is second-guessing our creator. The mysteriousness of God’s way prevails.

    • On June 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm w0ep said

      That’s an interesting idea.

      Maybe it is related to those people who see miracles in everyday events.
      Like when they find out they missed being in the big multi-car wreck
      on the freeway, they were just there 10 minutes before it happened.
      I’m not sure if that counts as a miracle or not. Maybe it is
      and I just don’t see it right.

      In fact, I’m pretty sure the way the story is built in the Bible
      seems to say that God is running the whole show and the line
      between normal and miraculous is maybe not as clear as we would
      like to think. Something we might call normal or natural is
      actually the result of stead intervention. And maybe other things
      we would call miraculous are the common sense result of
      past events. I’m way over my head.

      I guess what I’m saying is: maybe there are direct-to-the-consumer
      miracles going on and we just don’t get it.

      One thing that strikes me about Jonah, among many, is that
      Jonah has his assigned job and really he can’t get out of it
      as much as he tries. It gives me some feeling of compassion
      for people put in special roles. “here, go bang your head
      on this immovable situation for a few decades. I’m setting
      you up as an example for people 200 years from now.”

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