OriginalChristianity.Net

Not Traditional, Original

The Vision of OriginalChristianity.Net

The vision of OriginalChristianity.Net is to look at the beliefs and practices of the the original Christians.  The reason why this is important is that over the millennium Christianity has developed numerous factions that all claim that that they are the true continuation of original Christianity.  I heard exactly that when I visited a Greek Orthodox Church, I have read it in Roman Catholic literature, it is in the bulletin of a local non-denominational church in my area.  They make these claims despite the fact that they have disagreed, even violently at times.  For other articles on this topic, see A Major Objection to the Restoration Movement Is That Christianity Has Not Changed Substantially Over Time, and Another Claim of Original Christianity in Practice Today,

Throughout this website are numerous articles written on the numerous divisions in the Church that we have today, how a lot of these doctrines developed that are behind all these divisions, and some key points on how original Christianity differed from today.  It is important to look at all these things because they are part of Christianity now and play a big part, perhaps more as obstacles, in the faith of the individual believer.

But the key point of this website is to be able to envision what original Christianity, and in particular the time of Jesus and the apostles and disciples that he touched was really like. There was an incredible spirituality. With the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and afterward the sending of the Holy Spirit we see the most incredible movement of God on earth since creation.

Click to Read More…

This was a time of power, miracles, healing, and deliverance, not only by Jesus, but by those he touched, his apostles and disciples. People saw God in action through these men. They saw the word of God living, because they lived it together. There was incredible community and sharing. There was incredible believing. There was great faith.

It was a time of simple doctrine.  There were no official doctrines on infant baptism or believer’s baptism. There was no doctrine that prophecy and the other gifts and manifestations of the spirit had ceased. There were baptisms being carried out, and the last supper repeated as a memorial, but there were no “sacraments”, somehow mysteriously conveying grace by ritualistic practices. There were no autonomous churches disputing which form of church government was doctrinally correct, which end times theology was correct, or arguments over whether or not there was eternal security.

There was no argument over the status of the Bible, because there was no Bible. Jesus had referenced the law and the prophets, including the Psalms, as the word of God. And only those books with the addition of the words of Jesus were considered the word of God. There were no written Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There were no epistles of Peter, Paul, Hebrews, John, and Jude. So there was no argument over doctrines derived from them like eternal security, justification by grace, predestination, or even the Trinity.

Philosophy was rejected as an unwise practice of the Greeks that actually tore down faith more than it built, so discussion of faith wasn’t an analytical exercise in the nuances of the meanings of words, but rather simple directives, and powerful stories and analogies that emphasize the important meanings to be focused on while ignoring the myriad details that can lead people astray.

What existed was the good news that Jesus the Messiah had come, that he had fulfilled the law, had sent the Holy Spirit, and now many believers were walking in great faith and power. What existed was great praise, great faith, and great love of God.

All of this is not to say that this was an easy time. There were persecutions, challenges, and trials, as both the Jews and the Romans saw this burgeoning Christianity as a threat. But this just served to bring the Christians closer together, and more united in their faith.

Original Christianity was a time of great unity, simple doctrine, great believing, with many believers walking in the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as you read these articles that discuss all of the divisions, and developments, both good and bad throughout the millennia of history of Christianity, it is important to maintain the focus of the simple vision of original Christianity.  Pray, praise the Lord, walk in the power of the spirit, love God and love your neighbor, and rejoice in what Christ has done. Join together with any Christian who is doing the same.  And in the process perhaps we can bring some of what made original Christianity so great back to life.

© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

Welcome to Original Christianity.Net

It appears that universally, in the church, we Christians marvel at both at Jesus’ miracles and the wisdom in his parables. We especially are in awe of his life, his incredible birth, his short but incredibly powerful ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. We love him for those. We are also moved by the depth of the wisdom and inspiration of books like the Psalms and Proverbs. Almost universally, although most would say all true Christians, acknowledge him as Lord, and strive to follow his leadership as we walk in a dark world filled with daily challenges, including overcoming evil.

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In fact, there are some universal, and some almost universal, elements in Christianity. Universally held elements of Christianity include this deep awe of Christ, and likewise, for the bible. The bible, or at least for some, sections of the bible, such as the parables of Christ in the gospels, the powerful poetry of the Psalms, and the wisdom in Proverbs are universally held in the deepest regard. Almost universally held elements include the belief in Christ as the only begotten son of the Father, physically born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, who died for out sins, and was raised from the dead and is presently seated at the right hand of God. Christians look forward to spending eternity with the Lord. Even more, there is common ground as churches promote worship, baptism, and communion with some similarity.

But beyond some basics like these, there is far less agreement on the tenets of Christianity. In fact, there is an elephant in the Church, an elephant of disagreement resulting in tens of thousands of sects, disagreeing on many doctrines.

The disagreements have been legion, often bloody, and always confusing. Christians have killed other Christians for defying the rule of infant baptism and proclaiming “believer’s baptism”. Many Christians have declared other Christians apostate because of their view of the Bible, whether it is inerrant, infallible, or at least partially of human origin.

And even if they agree on the status of the Bible, they don’t agree on what it says on these issues. For example, there is disagreement over basic principles of interpretation like whether the overriding principle is based on the covenants of God versus which dispensation we are in.

There are Christians that call other Christians apostate (traitorous) because they believe that the gifts of the spirit, i.e., prophecy and speaking in tongues, etc. still exist, and vice versa. These days there are sharp divides over homosexuality, abortion, the Word of Faith movement, the emergent Church movement, and the role of women in the church.

Even if Christians don’t call others apostate, they still disagree to the point of not fellowshipping over issues like: dietary laws (whether they need to be followed), drinking alcohol, end times (Eschatology), eternal security, evolution vs. literal seven days of creation, giving vs. tithing, predestination, psychology: the acceptability of Christian counseling, sacraments as conveyers of grace or not, the “in the name of Jesus” debate, and pacifism vs. the concept of a just war, and other issues.

Then there is the ecumenical concept of Christian “orthodoxy” that suggests that none of the issues so far discussed really matter even there are huge divisions over them. The only issue that really matters in “orthodoxy” is whether one accepts the doctrine of the Trinity, that Jesus the man is really God and a person in a triune godhead with two other persons, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. This doctrine is promoted as the absolutely most important concept in Christianity even though this emphasis is totally missing for the first centuries of the church.

And let alone that the very doctrine of the Trinity has been disputed over the centuries with more Christians killing other Christians over this issue than any other. It appears that for some that as long as a church accepts the doctrine of the Trinity it doesn’t matter if it teaches that homosexuality is normal or apostate, and/or abortion is choice or murder, and/or baptism should be infant baptism or believer’s baptism, and/or there are two “ordinances” or seven sacraments, and so forth, and so on.

This mess is a huge blemish on the body of Christ. Some of these issues may be legitimate, but to have so many “orthodox” churches teaching so many disparate doctrines flies right in the face of Paul’s charge for believers to have the same mind:

Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 LITV)

If, as Paul teaches, we corporately are the body of Christ, then does the current collective body of competing Christian theologies accurately reflect the mind of Christ. Certainly, no one can think so.

But, before the present time with our tens of thousands of Christian denominations, and before the Reformation that shifted the focus of Christianity from the decisions of church councils and the Pope to the Bible as the principle source of guidance, and before the great schism about a thousand years ago, even before there were arguments over the nature of Christ, the Trinity and whether Mary was the mother of God in the beginning of the age of Christendom (fourth century), even before there was a Catholic church (110 A.D.) there was original primitive Christianity.

While some of the focus of Christianity remains, much has changed over the millennia. The question is whether all or even any of the different traditions that have developed are correct, or the original believers were the ones that actually got it the most right. The place to start is by looking at the beliefs and practices of original, primitive Christianity, and seriously consider embracing them again even though some of them may be radically different from what you or I hold today.

In the days of original, primitive Christianity:

(In the listings below hyperlinks offer more information on the point being made.)

Elements usually still held today:

Elements still held today by some:

Elements held today by few, if any believers:

Elements that are divisive today but didn’t appear to exist then:

The most current blogs (articles) are below. The articles can touch on a large number of topics including ancient history, the original language of the bible, grammar and logic, dividing doctrines besides the basics of Christianity, what Jesus taught, and development (movements) in Christianity throughout the centuries. For an organized listing of the blogs (articles) to get an overview and better understanding of the contents on this web site, go to the table of contents. There is more information on design of this website on this page; look on the right sidebar under Original Christianity and click “Why? Click to Read More…”

LP4000 The Role of Tradition and its Old Testament Influence

It would be remiss to discuss the Old Testament and its relevance to Original Christianity without talking about the oral traditions called the Talmud in later times. In the Bible, they are just called the tradition of the elders.

In Jewish history, for as long as there has been a written law, there has been an oral law that is “ a set of teachings, interpretations, and insights that complement the written Torah.” that were part of Jewish life.i In fact, Orthodox Jews believe that Moses received this oral law, also called the oral Torah , when he received the written law. From there it was passed on orally, from elders to Prophets, to the men of the Great Assembly and on and on. Many Jews consider this oral Torah just as much the word of God as the written Torah.ii

Of course, there are factions within Judaism that don’t take things as literally as the more conservative sects just as in all other religions. And so you might encounter Jews for which the Talmud is considered a valuable book, but to them, it evolved over time and some of it is no longer relevant.

Basically, according to Jewish authority, the need for the Talmud stems from the brevity of the sections of the Law in the Torah. For example, how do you perform a wedding ceremony? What does “an eye for an eye” mean exactly? How do you handle sacrifices when the temple is destroyed and that is the only supposed place for them?iii

The Talmud is further broken down into two parts, the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah is the collection of legal rulings by noted Rabbis such as First-century Rabbis. Hillel and Shammai as well as others. The Mishnah is organized into 6 basic Sedarim (orders) relating to areas of seeds, set feasts, women, damages, Hallowed things, and Purities. Within each order are numerous tractates.

The Gemara is a book of discussions commenting on the teachings in the Mishnah. It has stories, legends, parts of sermons, and other teachings relating to the relationship between the Torah and Mishnah.

The Talmud was strictly oral until the first and second centuries when the destruction of the Temple, as well as the increasing complexity of the tradition, impressed the need for codifying the material into a written form. Judah Ha-Nasi is credited with the first edition of the oral law creating a written Mishnah at the beginning of the third century.

There is a claim that the Talmud is unchangeable and if that were true then we would know what it was in Jesus’ and the Apostle’s time but evidence shows that it is a changing document so as conditions in the world changed so did the commentary on what was appropriate in the Talmud.

The fact that the written version wasn’t written down until the third century and has been updated since leaves us uncertain about some of what was the oral tradition in the time of Jesus and the Apostles but there are New testament references that talk directly about some issues.

Let’s look at a Talmud example relating to the mixing of seeds

“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material. (Lev 19:19)

Here in the law is a law on mixing species, seeds and materials. We will look at seeds for our example.

The same laws are in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-two. Look at verse nine:

“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. (Deu 22:9)

So we see that mixing seeds in a field is strictly forbidden. Now let’s see what the Talmud says?

There is a discussion on chabad.org about the Talmud on these verses.iv They explain that mixing seeds or species is called kilayim. They note that there are 77 Mishnah related to this topic with “elaborate analysis”. That is a lot of discussions!

Looking at Kiddushin 39a we see Gemara comments asking whether the field is part of the Land of Israel, and then the Gemara answering that the prohibition of diverse seeds doesn’t apply outside Israel.

Another comment in the same Kiddushin 39a relates that Rav Hanan and Rav Anan saw a man planting wheat and barley between grapevines. So one says the Master should ostracize him but the other says that since Rabbi Yoshiya said one is not wrong unless he sows these three seeds with one hand motion he is not to be ostracized.v

So, in this case, these three different plants growing near each other is not an example of mixed seeds in a field. Notice that this is not the strictest interpretation of the law. It is an example that sometimes the strictest interpretation isn’t chosen, at least by some Rabbis.

The point apparently here is that it is not as simple as it looks. In this example there are different plants planted near each other which some might say is mixing seeds. But looking at the Talmud we see guidance that this example does not constitute sowing mixed seeds as the seeds are not sown together in one hand motion.

As far as seed mixing goes there are many other references to consider if those circumstances don’t match yours. And this has not been an exhaustive study by any means, just an illustration of researching the Talmud for answers. The source referenced above lists 77 Mishnahs involved.

Because of this level of inspection and review the Talmud is approximately 10 times the size of the Torah. The Babylonian Talmud is listed as 2711 pages. It is very complicated and its sheer size requires much study to know what it truly says. The sheer size of the information involved can make it confusing. In order to avoid breaking the law, it appears that the Talmud is the final authority to at least some children of God although many appear adamant that the Torah is the Word of God and the Talmud is only advice.

Remember that the Talmud was in oral form during Original Christianity but it was painstakingly handed down from generation to generation just as it was painstakingly adhered to by some Jewish leaders.

iJudaism for Dummies, Rabbi Ted Falcon and David Blatner, Wiley and Sons, Hoboken NJ, 2013, p.39

iiIbid

iiiIbid

ivhttps://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3570273/jewish/What-Is-Kilayim.htm

vhttps://www.sefaria.org/Kiddushin.39a.12?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

1.2 The Synagogue Became a Substitute For The Temple

We have looked at how the liturgy developed in the old Testament from simple sacrifices held by heads of households to the giving of the Law and God-given instructions for a much more elaborate liturgy. We also have looked at how the Israelites started their own traditions that accompanied some of these rituals in books like the Haggadah where additional details were added to the Seder meal.

Next, we are going to look at the development of the synagogue which was in full swing by the time of original Christianity. While the Temple was major in Judaism at that time and others, the synagogue became more of a center of everyday Jewish life.

The origins of the synagogue are uncertain, but we do know a few things. When the law was given the Tabernacle was the center of worship. Once the Temple was built the Temple became the center of worship. The temple was unavailable, however, during periods of Exile or when it was destroyed. So it is believed that the synagogue became a replacement for the Temple at that time.

The Babylonian captivity started in 597 BCi. The general opinion is that that is when synagogues started. By the time of Jesus, synagogues appeared wherever Jews lived together.ii

Similar to the Greek word for church, ekklesia, meaning called out or assembly the greek word for synagogue is sunagoge, also meaning assembly. While both words later came to also mean the buildings where people assembled, both words actually refer to the gathering of people together.

A synagogue, then, is a gathering of God’s chosen people. There is a record in Ezekiel of a gathering of elders that some think is a reference to a synagogue:

In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. (Eze 20:1)

Ezekiel was a prophet at the time of the Babylonian captivity and lived in exile in Babylon and this verse looks like him meeting with the leadership of a Babylonian synagogue, but that is not certain.

Also in the Book of Ezekiel is a reference that Jewish leadership interpreted as meaning that the synagogue would be a substitute for the Temple for Jews that lived in other nations:iii

Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ (Eze 11:16)

Synagogues did not have defined dimensions and specifications from the Torah like the Temple so the edifice itself depended on the wealth and abilities of the participants although there are specifications given in the Talmud.

There is a description in Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah of an ancient synagogue that describes various beautiful ornamentations on the doors and moldings, two colonnades forming a passageway east and west separating the gallery of men from the pulpit and chief seats, the structure including a supposed women’s gallery, the floor being a slab white limestone and the walls impressively two to seven feet thick. There was an area for the movable ark, the Bima (elevated stand) that held the luach or desk where the scrolls were read, and a chair for the speaker to sit. (The law is read standing, the sermon is given seated.)iv

These were a few of the guidelines that the Jews themselves apparently enacted. Other guidelines include the participants seated facing Jerusalem, the building should be conspicuous, preferably on the highest ground around with the roof above surrounding buildings.v

Synagogues were segregated, men alone in the main chamber with women and children separated from the men to avoid distractions. The ruler of the synagogue was elected by the elders. The order of service was a creed, prayers, readings from the scrolls, a sermon, and a question and answer period for men to question the minister. There was the movable ark of sacred scrolls in a curtained alcove behind the pulpit, only to be opened by doctors of the law. Between the alcove and the pulpit were the chief seats, also known as Moses seats where the chief teachers and readers sat.vi

The purpose of the synagogue was not sacrificing as in the Temple, but rather instruction. Teachers of the Law taught and expounded. There was also praying and singing. Priests weren’t in charge of synagogues, but they would be honored guests. Also, tithes were not used to finance the synagogue, they were dependent on free will offerings. Persons known to be knowledgeable would be allowed to speak, especially people who were good at explaining the law.vii

The main difference between the Temple and the synagogue besides the Temple being in Jerusalem and synagogues being built everywhere is that in the synagogue the reading of the Torah took the place of sacrifice in the Temple.viii

The synagogue was a community center besides being a place of worship. It housed the local school, the local government including the local court, as well as being a public meeting place. The elders of the synagogue were magistrates and local authorities.ix

The synagogue appears to have become the place where God was brought to the people in substitution for the Temple. I don’t know how this became okay in light of God’s declaration that he would name the place for worship and sacrifice (Deut 12:5) but it is clear that there was no sacrifice at synagogue so all the details of this verse are not being violated.

The Gospels talk about the courts and disciplining that happened in the synagogue:

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, (Mat 10:17)

In an adjunct room to the assembly hall, the synagogue housed the local court system where the law was strictly interpreted, and the punishment was often severe. Punishments included excommunication, scourging, and death. Scourging was limited to 40 stripes, but to avoid mistakes (a punishable mistake itself) stripes were limited to 39. There were 168 faults for which the punishment was scourging.x There is also more than one form of excommunication.

The Talmud does have specifics on synagogues. I could not find any ancient Talmud references about the synagogue but there are some online for the current times.xi There are specifications there for both the structure and what needs to be in the building. Many details are given including the building direction, the windows, The Ark, the bimah (table), the Amud (lecturn), the Mechitzah (partition between men and women), and a number of other things.

We are at the end of the development of liturgy in the Old Testament and we are discussing a topic, synagogues, from which there is no, or hardly any reference in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms while there are guidelines that were set up both in the Talmud and from other Jewish authorities. That is very interesting. And that is the setting upon which Jesus arrived.

ihttp://timeline.biblehistory.com/period/the-exile

iiThe New Bible Dictionary, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, J.D. Douglas Editor, 1962 p. 1227

iiiIbid, p. 1227

ivLife and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, Alfred Edersheim, 1953, p. 787 available at http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/The%20Life%20and%20Times%20of%20Jesus%20the%20Messiah.pdf

vManners and Customs of the Bible, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, James M Freeman, 1972 p. 334-335

viHandbook to the Bible, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, David Alexander and Patricia Alexander, 1973, p. 96

vii Manners and Customs of the Bible, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, James M Freeman, 1972 p. 334-335

viiiNew Bible Dictionary, p. 1227

ixHandbook to the Bible, p.494

xIbid, p 347

xihttps://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1144404/jewish/Building-a-Synagogue.htm

LP3132 Jonah

Jonah, chronologically, is thought to be the first of the books of the prophets as the events of the book happen around 790BC. Jonah is listed as a minor prophet simply because the book on his ministry is short.

Jonah is famous , for one reason, because Jesus refers to him:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
(Mat 12:38-41)

There is a strong contention by a number of writers that Jonah is fictional as surviving in the belly of a fish for three days sounds preposterous. One view is that the whole book is a satire. However, in the above verse by our Lord, it certainly looks like our Lord believed in Jonah and there is another reference to Jonah in 2 Kings:

In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.
(2Ki 14:23-25)

In the above verses, we see that Jonah ministered for God to God’s chosen people. Also in the above verse, he delivered a message about the border of Israel.

The book of Jonah is unique among the books of the prophets. In its four chapters Jonah only says one line of prophecy, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The whole book is a narrative of this one series of events. Additionally, we see something about this spokesman for God that we don’t see in the other prophets who have books. Jonah was not sent to one of the Kings of Israel or Judah, rather he was sent to Nineveh. Ninevah wasn’t in Israel or Judah, rather it was a huge city in the Assyrian Empire. There is some claim that Ninevah was the great city founded by Nimrod.

And we see some unique workings in God’s relationship with his spokesman, Jonah, when we see that Jonah doesn’t want to do what God wants him to do. In Jonah, we see an entire conversation between God and a man, albeit that man is a prophet of God, so there must be a line of communication between them. And then we have the famous story of Jonah and the great fish which is prophesied to be a forerunner of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The fact that Jonah was sent to Nineveh brings up some interesting points about the Old Testament and God’s workings. It emphasizes the point that while the descendants of Abraham were certainly God’s chosen people God did interact with other peoples, at least from time to time in the bible. There are records of dreams and other signs given to people other than the children of Israel. While there may not be a lot of records of this type God has always been the God of all. An example of other people’s relationship with our Father God would be Melchizedek, the king and priest of Salem. Melchizedek was someone Abram paid tithes to, but Melchizedek was not one of the chosen people. And Melchizedek had to be somebody very significant as Christ himself is called our high priest after the order of Melchizedek:

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
(Heb 6:19-20 ESV)

So as you probably know the story is that Jonah got the word to walk the streets of Nineveh telling them to repent. But he didn’t want to do it! So he hired a ship as if he could sail away from God Almighty! But as we know God caused a great storm, and to make a long story short, Jonah told the crew the ship to throw him overboard so that they wouldn’t get demolished in the storm. So the crew threw him overboard and he was swallowed by a great fish. Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. After that time the great fish spit about on dry land. He did go and tell the people of Nineveh to repent. Which they did! But Jonah wasn’t happy about that, and he went and sulked on a hill.

So God had a little trick up his sleeve. God made a great plant to shadow him. But then he let a great worm destroy the plant! And he used the plant as an object lesson.

Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
(Jon 4:6-11 ESV)

Look at the detailed conversation going on here between Jonah and the Lord God. Before this we just see a simple directions that the Lord commanded Jonah:

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” (Jon 1:1-2 ESV)

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” (Jon 3:1-2 ESV)

But in between those two very similar declarations by the Lord is this prayer by Jonah to the Lord. In the prayer notice his humility, his repentance.

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
(Jon 2:1-9 ESV)


So we see in the conversation between God and Jonah how Jonah was concerned over the welfare of the plant but not of the citizens of the great city Ninevah.

So, as a result, we learn a great deal about God, prophecy, and prophets in this book. We learn that God did communicate with people other than his chosen people, and some did have the heart to serve him, and accordingly, God rewarded them!

We learn that being a prophet is not always an easy task and that prophets don’t always want to do what they’re told! And we learned that God works with prophets, talking with them, to teach them and guide them. We learn that in the end Jonah did his job.

Furthermore, we learn that prophecies can have different outcomes depending on the response of the people. Nineveh went from being a city that was going to be overthrown to an example of a people that would judge the people of Jesus’ time.

Biblical references are from the ASV version unless otherwise noted.
Posts and articles © copyright Mark W Smith 2007 - 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mark W Smith and OriginalChristianity.Net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. You can reach Mark by emailing Mark at OriginalChristianity.net.

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