Not So Fast, Jonah

Not So Fast, Jonah

“I’ll take ‘Places in Jonah’ for $1000, Alex.”

“The answer is ‘Of Nineveh, Tarshish, and Joppa, it’s the one closest to Jerusalem.’

So how did you do?  Lose $1000?  Don’t feel bad.  Most Bible readers have little if any idea where the Old Testament cities and villages are located.  It’s probably not important anyway.  Or is it?

Most Old Testament readers place Bible cities somewhere in the Middle East.  But look at this map.  Tarshish is at the southern end of Spain, and Nineveh is in the northern part of present-day Iraq.

The Bible tells us Jonah was commanded by God to go to Nineveh but went to Joppa to book passage on a ship to Tarshish. Wow! Jonah planned to get as far away from Nineveh as possible, and Tarshish was that destination.

I have no idea how long that trip would have taken. Months? Sometimes when things don’t seem to be working out, there may be a mental tug to physically make a change. You may know someone who moved from one coast to the other to start over with a career or their personal life.  You may be that person.  It’s not always wrong to relocate unless you’re trying to run away from God’s plan for your life.

Did Jonah think God would not be in Tarshish?  Jonah never found out.  His disobedience led to a storm that endangered his life and the lives of the others onboard. You know the story.  Jonah was thrown into the ocean and ended up being swallowed by a great fish.  Three days later he was vomited up onto a beach.

It is rumored that from that point forward Jonah refused to vacation on a cruise ship. Ask your pastor. 😊

The point of all this is when God asks us to step up it’s not time to step away. We can relocate or just change churches, but God will not stop his pursuit.    

That darn free will sounds like a good deal until it gets into a tug of war with God’s sovereign will.  Jonah finally gave in and warned the citizens of Nineveh about God’s coming judgment.  What do I need to give in to?  How about you?  Tarshish sounds like a great place to start over until we find ourselves in the belly of a fish.

Habakkuk Chapter 2

Habakkuk walked slowly to his favorite alone place just outside the city.

“I’ll just sit down here on this rock and wait for the Lord to show up.  When He speaks, I will listen and think about how I might reply.”

A short time passed, and God showed up.  He sat down on the rock next to Habakkuk.  Neither spoke, but each kept his eyes on the other one.  Then God stood up.

“Habakkuk write what I will tell you.  Better yet, write my words on a stone tablet.  Then if anyone in Judah still remembers Me, he can read my words.”

God chuckled then continued, “It won’t surprise me if he runs away as fast as he can. I have some plans for these people, and everything will happen when I decide. But mark My words, it will happen.

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Habakkuk Chapter 1

The once united nation of Israel became two kingdoms.  The northern kingdom Israel was conquered and taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

It is now around 620 BC.  The southern kingdom Judah is now precariously close to an end.  God has had it.  There will be no more ‘if my people repent, I’ll save them.’  The cycle of rebellion then repentance then rebellion then repentance is over.  The people of Judah are all fat and happy.  And wicked.

The prophet Habakkuk sadly observes the conduct of his countrymen and wonders why God has not stepped in.

Chapter 1 begins with a question.

Verse 2 Habakkuk is speaking.

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?”

In verses 3 and 4 Habakkuk summarizes his distress. Don’t you see what your people are doing? Violence. How long? Wickedness. How long? Strife and contention. How long? Why isn’t God taking care of this? 

The wait is almost over, Habakkuk.

In verse 5 God is speaking.

“Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days you would not believe if you were told.”

At last. I wonder if a smile slowly travels across Habakkuk’s face. Yes, astonish me, God!

Hold on, Habakkuk.  You may not like what you are about to hear.

In verse 6 God continues.

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs”

The Chaldeans?  No, God, not the Chaldeans!  Although the Chaldeans were a specific people group that lived in the southern part of Babylon (present day Iraq), in this passage the name refers to Babylonians in general.  They were not nice people. Read verses 7 through 11 to get an idea of their conduct.

“They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves.

“Their horses are swifter than leopards and keener than wolves in the evening.  Their horsemen come galloping, their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swooping down to devour.

“All of them come for violence. their horde of faces moves forward.  They collect captives like sand.

“They mock at kings and rulers are a laughing matter to them.  They laugh at every fortress and heap up rubble to capture it.

“Then they will sweep through the wind and pass on.  But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god.”

Self-centered and evil, they are a gang of bullies playing by their own rules.

Verse 12 Habakkuk speaks.

Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.

Although Habakkuk is speaking to God he seems to be reminding himself of what He knows about God. 

  • God is eternal.
  • God is the true Holy One.
  • God will not let them destroy us.
  • God is just using the Babylonians to judge Judah’s wickedness.
  • God is using them to correct the people of Judah.

In verses 13 through 17, with confusion Habakkuk directly speaks to God.

Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?

Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, like creeping things without a ruler over them?

The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, drag them away with their net, and gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.

Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net; because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.

Will they therefore empty their net and continually slay nations without sparing?

Does this seem very God-like to you?  Does it seem almost impossible that God who is pure and holy and perfect would use an evil nation to judge and correct His people in Judah?  Isn’t there some other way?

To answer my last question, yes, because God can do anything there is always another way. 

My take-aways from chapter one:

  • The people of Judah were not acting like people of God are expected to act.
  • God is patient, but He will tolerate only so much.
  • It is God’s choice how He will respond to man’s disobedience.
  • I see America in the description of Judah in verses 3 and 4.

Next week we look at chapter 2 where God has a few things to say.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

Would Rosa Parks Take A Knee?

December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The law required her to sit in the “colored” section of the bus. The white and African-American sections of the bus were separated by a sign.

As the bus continued on its way and began to fill with passengers, the bus driver noticed some white passengers were standing. He stopped the bus and moved the segregation line back one row giving the white passengers additional seats. Rosa was now seated in a white row.

The Montgomery law allowed bus drivers to ask African-American passengers to give up their seats in white sections. If they refused, the police could be called and the passenger could be arrested.

The driver asked the African-American passengers seated in the new white row to stand so white passengers could sit. Three passengers complied. Rosa did not.

The driver demanded to know why Rosa did not get up. She replied “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” Rosa was arrested. Later that evening she was released on bail.

It was 1955, and an unknown African-American lady was arrested for violating a law. That may seem like a non-issue to most of us, but the result was a 381 day bus boycott by the African-American citizens of Montgomery, Alabama. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered the integration of the Montgomery bus line. That led to the integration of bus lines across the nation.

Fast forward to 2016. Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem to protest how America still oppresses people of color. Despite intense criticism the protest continues to grow. And with its growth the protester protest also grows.

If Rosa Parks were alive today, would she take a knee?

Some might say she definitely would. Others might say she would not. None of us can be certain how she would react.

A better question is what does Rosa’s action in 1955 have to do with today’s anthem protests and the protester protests.

If you support the current protests you might be wondering if you should continue reading this. Please continue. As a protest protester I am highly critical of both sides.

What exactly is being accomplished by those who protest (the Kneelers) and those who protest the protesters (the Standers)?


You may choose to listen with deaf ears and see with blind eyes, but we have a serious problem in this country. Racism still exists.

It’s easy to use the general term ‘oppressed’ and equally easy to boo at football players who use that term, but is anyone doing anything to solve the problem?


You want to talk about disrespect and freedom of speech? Fine. While we’re busy pointing fingers at each other, kids in urban areas are going to bed hungry. Why? Is your protest and my protest protest doing anything to bring about a permanent solution? What does kids going to bed hungry have to do with racism? I don’t know. Do you?

Here’s a crazy idea. What if the Kneelers and the Standers became sitters and sat down across the table from each other and had a conversation about racism? What if we actually tried to identify issues and solve them?

Are we willing to do anything to find permanent solutions?


Folks, this is not an African-American problem. It is an all-American problem. It won’t be solved only by African-Americans. It’s going to take all of us.

When the topic is racism, I can’t begin to know what all the issues are or how to solve them. Do you? Has either of us taken the time to try?

Kneel if you want. Stand if you choose. While you doing either ask yourself how you are helping to solve the problem of racism in this country.

Rosa experienced a specific area of racism first hand. An issue was identified and she acted. Can we do the same? Will we?

For more about Rosa Parks click here.

Let’s Talk About Dancing



True confession. I have never understood the point of dancing. Maybe someone can enlighten me. What exactly am I missing here?

Consider slow dancing.

You face your partner in a semi-hug position. You “hold” your partner close or not close depending on your relationship. You move (or try to move) to the rhythm of the music. You step, you sway, and you smile. Why? For me it has always been a struggle to step and sway. Don’t get me wrong. I can step and sway with the best of them. I just have a fragmented disconnect between rhythm and step-and-sway.

By the way, I have rhythm, but it’s introverted. It’s deep and introspective. I choose not to flaunt it, but it’s there.

So there I am on the dance floor. I listen to the music, searching for the rhythm. Once found I try to translate it to my feet and body (step-and-sway). The neuro-synaptic response just isn’t there.

My appearance can best be described as hesitant, awkward, and robotic.

I feel like I’m walking through a cow pasture trying not to step in something. My dancing style has that same aroma. Adults snicker. Teens point. Small children anxiously cling to their mothers.

It’s that bad.

Am I alone? Are there others who share my failure? Is there a support group I can join? Can anyone help me? Please?

I won’t even begin to address that monstrous practice known as fast dancing.

Watch your step.

Sunset in America


I just finished reading Night by Elie Wiesel. Rarely does a book impact me emotionally. Night did. It’s a true story of a 15 year old Jewish boy who, along with his family, was forced by the Nazis to leave his home. He endured a year of hardship and survival in Nazi concentration camps.

The book is an account of separation from his mother and younger sister and the declining health and death of his father.

It was sad. I felt its effect for several days after reading the last words.

But it was sad on another level. Until the day the German troops marched into Mr. Wiesel’s village the citizens were in denial they would be affected by the war. In fact, they were sure defeat of the German army by the Russian Red Army was imminent.

And we, the Jews of Sighet, waited for better days that surely were to come. Spring 1944. Splendid news from the Russian front. There could no longer be any doubt. Germany would be defeated. It was only a matter of time, months or weeks, perhaps.” Page 8

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Teachings from Mighty Mouse

“Here I come to save the day! That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!”

might mouse

For those of you not familiar with Mighty Mouse here is his theme song:

There are a lot of Jesus teachings in the Mighty Mouse theme song. I do not intend to demean Jesus by comparing him to Mighty Mouse, but the theme song has so many Biblical parallels.

Shall we take a look?

Mr. Trouble never hangs around when he hears this mighty sound. “Here I come to save the day.”

Jesus conquered death. He is greater than Satan. If we are willing to submit to Him He will be there for us. We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

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Am I In?

I didn’t know if my resume’ was a bridge or a roadblock. I sat on one side of the table. He sat on the other. It separated us or united us. I couldn’t tell. His smile gave me no hint.

“So, why don’t you tell me why you should be part of our organization?”

“Well,” glancing down at my resume’ then back up at him “I’ve detailed my accomplishments.”

I forced a grin. He just smiled back.

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Ah, God Is in Control


Yes, fellow Christian, just sit back and relax. God is in control.

You want to end a conversation about the chaos in the world today? Utter these soothing words, “God is in control.”

Case closed. Go on to the next subject. Crab grass. Vacation. Car shopping. Whatever.

Then sit back and do absolutely nothing.

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