Still working on my reading

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[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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