mercy

Day 28 » Jonah

This blog post was written by Karen Keyser. Karen is the Director of Chi Alpha International at Georgetown University.

This blog post was written by Karen Keyser. Karen is the Director of Chi Alpha International at Georgetown University.

First of all, is the book of Jonah a true story? Though the book of Jonah seems pretty crazy, Jesus referred to it as history: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40) If Jesus indicated it happened, I think it did, too.

God wanted Jonah to go preach in the city of Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. The Assyrians were the evil, hated enemies of Israel and her people.

Chapter One – Jonah’s rebellion
Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh so he disobeyed the Lord & tried to flee from His presence. Why? We know from chapter four that mainly Jonah did not want the Assyrians to be forgiven. Also, Jonah may have felt God was asking too much from him since Nineveh was over 500 miles away by foot.

Jonah’s rebellion and disobedience were costly to himself and others. Disobedience against God may start out fine, but will eventually send you on a costly path.

Chapter Two – Jonah’s repentance & God’s forgiveness
God loved Jonah too much to let him go to Tarshish and ruin his life. God could have gotten someone else for the job, but He was concerned about Jonah & wanted to see Jonah learn & grow.

After being tossed overboard in the boat, Jonah finally reached a low point and called out to God, acknowledging where his salvation comes from: Jonah 2:9: But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD."

Chapter Three – Jonah’s Obedience & God’s loving grace
God has always been a God of the second chance. Jonah got the opportunity to go back to Ninevah to call them to repentance. The people mourned over their sin and turned to God. So, God had mercy and relented from calamity.

Chapter Four – Jonah’s Bitterness & God’s loving lesson
Jonah was mad! Why? Jonah hated the Assyrians and didn’t want them to be saved. He knew that God was “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” Just as Jonah predicted, God saw the lost souls in Nineveh as a great loss, and since they had repented, God relented. Jonah hated this.

God cared about Jonah by continuing to teach him through the lesson of the plant that gave him shade and then died:

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

That is the final verse of the chapter. What a profound punchline to end the book! It speaks to me today. Am I more concerned about cold temperatures or a favorite T.V. show than thousands of Georgetown students who, spiritually speaking, cannot tell “their right hand from their left?”

Dear God, give us your heart for people and the strength to obey you when you ask us to take a risk for you. May we have Your compassionate, forgiving heart to share the message of the gospel to others, even when it is uncomfortable.

Ideas adapted from “Jonah Study Notes,” Calvary Chapel Edinburgh, 2008.

Day 26 » Zechariah 13-14

This post was written by James Kim. James is an intern at Georgetown Chi Alpha. He graduated from Georgetown in 2014 and is serving the ministry that helped him grow spiritually during his undergrad years.

This post was written by James Kim. James is an intern at Georgetown Chi Alpha. He graduated from Georgetown in 2014 and is serving the ministry that helped him grow spiritually during his undergrad years.

We near the end of the reading plan today as we finish Zechariah. After reading the Minor Prophets share over and over again about the sins of God’s people, their destruction, and their restoration, Zechariah was refreshing to me.

This book is a turning point for several reasons. The children of those who have lived through the destruction of their homes are given a warning. They are told to remember the sins of their fathers and head towards righteousness. God shows favor to them by protecting this new generation from its enemies. Then, there are the prophecies that are as terrifying and confusing as the ones from the prophet Daniel. Though they include the first coming of Jesus Christ, the book ends with an apocalyptic image.

I am not a Bible scholar. Nor do I aspire to be one. But, as I make my best attempt to understand what God is saying through every part of the Bible, my goal is to figure out what I can do today for God, the things that I can practice in obedience to His word.

So, here are my thoughts from reading Zechariah.

God is very clear and direct about telling us that there will be a point in time when this will all end. All people judged. His people rescued and others condemned. Answering the how’s and when’s are not really my interest. After all, Jesus says that no one knows of the day or the hour (Matt 24:36). What is important is that it is going to happen. It is coming. As I’ve read multiple times throughout the Bible, and especially in the past few weeks, the end is near.

At a first glance, this seems like a scare tactic by God. But, remember, context. It is clear to me from reading Zechariah alone, and even clearer throughout the books of the Minor Prophets and also the Bible as a whole, that God has been chasing after us to warn us about the danger we are heading towards. Being omniscient and omnipresent God, He is fully aware of what He gave us, what we desire, and the consequence of sin. In all the times I read about the end times or God’s judgment, I am reminded that God is pointing to what I should avoid. He provided a yellow sign so that I will turn back in time.

The people of Israel experienced extreme favor from God. From God’s promise to Abraham to the exodus and to the land flowing with honey and milk, God did the impossible for them. But, they were quick to forget and their selfish hearts made the blind and deaf to the prophets’ warnings. God, on the other hand, is faithful. Although there are just consequences for the blind, God is full of mercy to those who repent.

For me, I’ve experience extreme favor from God. I am very thankful for how He watched over me and guided my steps. I am thankful for the brothers and sisters of His family He surrounded me with. I am thankful for the miracle of God coming down to earth as a baby to die on the cross and rise again for my sin. But, I admit that I am quick to forget and give into my selfish desires. If it weren’t for God’s grace, I would not repent. That’s why I am so thankful that in the moments I don’t cling on to God, He is clinging on to me, not willing to let go of my hand.