Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Confessing Before Men

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. (Jonah 1:9 KJV)

In 2009 our Senior Saints made their first day trip, visiting a museum with early Christian artifacts. Among the many pieces of funerary items, several depicted Jonah as well as Christ. On one side would be Jonah and the great fish – the other would show Christ and the cross. It’s a story every Christian knows because of the book of Jonah and the sign Jesus said would be given - in Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16:4, Luke 11:29-30.

We aren’t the only ones who know the story – Muslims for centuries have tended what is purported to be Jonah’s grave. This month, the Islamic State damaged or destroyed it.  Today, Nineveh is in need of a prophet to proclaim what God sent Jonah to do:

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2 KJV)

However, I have not received God’s word to be that person. It doesn’t appear that another has, either. I have been instructed to do what Jonah did in confessing before men, for though I am not a Hebrew, I do worship the Lord who made the sea and the dry land.  His son gave instructions, too:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)

Paul saw that confession was truly good for our soul:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 KJV)

At first Jonah turned his back on God’s instruction, to the point that he left town and headed in the opposite direction. I doubt he believed he would survive being thrown overboard, but that suggestion was his:

Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. (Jonah 1:11-12 KJV)

His shipmates didn’t take that suggestion – at first, but eventually, to save their lives:

So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. (Jonah 1:15 KJV)

There are many more good lessons in the four short chapters of Jonah. Running from God is just one of the examples we see in mankind today. The one I like best, though, is what happens when we do confess:

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. . . . .  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (Jonah 3:5 . . . . 10 KJV)

Things work so much better when we believe God and let people know that we do.

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