Thought for the day – Monday 1 June

Thought for the day - Monday 1 June
Dear All
With the benefit of so many TV channels these days, we can watch just about anything we wish and at any time. With widescreen, surround sound, and high definition ‘boxes’ it makes our experience so amazing, It’s so good!
I once went to see a film in a big high tech cinema with every device imaginable making the experience as realistic as possible. It was very ‘real’, so real that I forgot where I was for a while. Anyhow, I slipped out of my luxurious seat and crept up the aisle to ask someone I thought to be a member of staff, where the toilet was, he answered: ” Sorry!, I haven’t a clue mate, I’m in the film”.
Thinking of films, Sir David Attenborough’s film documentaries are amazing are they not? I’ve been watching some re-runs of ‘Blue Planet’, especially the episodes of the oceans and the amazing creatures that live there, tiny creatures, great big ones and some of them quite scary too. Their colour and variety in our oceans and seas are truly wonderful and breathtaking. ‘All things bright and beautiful all creatures great and small’ are so apt.
Sadly though, we’ve made a bit of a mess in and on our planet over the years, yet thankfully, we have ‘wakened up’ now and are making some good changes to help reverse the problems we’ve caused. Plastic in our oceans is a major blight.
During this lockdown, however, I think ‘nature’ has had a break and a bit of an unexpected rest from the demands we’ve placed on it. That’s good news.
Our ‘thought for today’ is about a guy called Jonah who ‘self polluted’ ie, ‘self polluted’ the sea. He actually ‘asked’ to be tossed into the angry waves in order to placate the Lord who had caused a big storm in order to bring him back to his senses, Every crew members’ own god, was invoked too and asked for help. All except Jonah’s God.
Everyone on board was doing their bit, tossing the cargo overboard to lighten the ship and praying to their god in case they had caused offence in some way. Nobody knew which god had actually caused the storm so everyone’s god was invoked and asked for mercy just in case. Jonah’s God, however, was not asked because Jonah was asleep, so the storm continued. ‘Stugaron’ maybe?
When the crew eventually found him ‘out for the count’ they were distressed and afraid so they interrogated him to find out why he wasn’t helping out. He told them his story and about his running away from his God and then asked to be to chucked over the side.
He told them that If they did this everything would be ok and that they wouldn’t have to worry because everything was his fault, not theirs. The crew members reluctantly did what Jonah asked and that takes us to the bit of the story that we all know about ie ‘Jonah and the whale’. But what’s it all about?
This is obviously a story, to treat it otherwise would not be credible. What is the thrust of this short, Old Testament book with four chapters? If you read the whole story you will find that the story is not so much about Jonah and the whale at all, but rather about the Sovereignty, grace and mercy of God.
Jonah sulked and went on the huff because God wanted to show mercy to the people of Nineveh, albeit after some nasty threats. He also discovered that he couldn’t hide or sail away from God and he is also ‘shown up’ by the ‘heathen’ crew who at least had a reverence for their own gods.
In the gospels, we also find Jesus asleep during a storm with his frightened disciples anxious for their safety. Whilst the story of Jonah and the calming of the storm in the gospels are not connected linguistically, metaphorically or historically, we cannot help however, see some similarities.
Many people have perished in natural storms at sea and on land. The destructive power of nature is awesome and frightening and has down through the ages been attributed to God’s anger such as we read of today in the story of Jonah. We may not think this way today and will no doubt want to interpret things quite differently as I think we ought. What then do we make of this familiar tale?
What do you think about the Old Testament description of God and of those in the New Testament?
Exegesis or Eisegesis? These are two very important words to consider. (I think you will be rewarded if you look up the meaning of these two words, assuming you don’t already know their meanings) as they will help for future reference in understanding the bible.
Today I ask you to think/meditate on these things.
God bless you!
Jim 1

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord because he had already told them so.)

The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this, the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


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