Excerpts from Jonah 1-4
And they said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, "Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?" And he said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, "What is this that you have done!" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
Therefore they called out to the Lord, "O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you." So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." And the Lord said, "Do you do well to be angry?"
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."
Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. Why? He had already made up his mind what the outcome would be. And here is the crazy part… he was correct. Not something that is often brought up in the story of Jonah, but none the less, very true and telling. We know the tale. “The word of the LORD came to Jonah,” speaking to message – not The Word as in John 1 or Genesis 1, being the actual spoken creation, or pervading understanding or knowledge of all things, the undercurrent of reason (more on this later). Jonah received this message and then chose not to exhort this revealed message to the appointed audience. He was swallowed by the fish, whined and complained (or sucked up, brown nosed) and begrudgingly went to deliver God’s message to Nineveh. After this, he was upset at the people’s repentance, complained some more, and then the book ends. Again, why didn’t he want to go to Nineveh?
He hated them. The Assyrian Empire was the enemy. Foreign gods, barbaric practices, wars, battles, pain, hurt, resentment… Why should they be deserving of a prophetic word from God?
Well, what is a prophetic word, or what is the responsibility of a prophet?
A prophet is a spokesperson for God. The prophet admonishes, warns, directs, encourages, intercedes, teaches and counsels. He brings the word of God to the people of God and calls the people to respond.
Jeremiah gives us insight into the role of a prophet (chapter 23:18-22) by calling out false prophets, saying:
For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see and to hear his word,
or who has paid attention to his word and listened?
Behold, the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
"I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their deeds.
Standing in the council of God
Seeing and hearing the word of God
Paying attention or listening to the word of God
Proclaiming the word(s) of God to the people
That’s a lot of stuff about the word of God.
dabar: speech, word
Original Word: דָּבָר
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (daw-baw')
Short Definition: word
Interesting to note that prophets are not God. They also are not Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God (capitol W) – and there is a big difference here. A prophet is not a mind reader. A prophet is not a perfect person. A prophet is not without sin. Sound like anyone you know? Now, I don’t mean to hurt the feelings of current day “prophets” who proclaim that they know all and can see all and are infallible. Well, if they get their feelings hurt, then they should have seen that coming I guess.
Prophets are susceptible to the ravages of sin the same as you and me (adjective emotions – exceedingly). However, they have, through calling or devotion, an immense responsibility to spend time standing in the council of God, seeing and hearing God, and more than that paying attention to and listening to God, and one step further, proclaiming the Truth or message (word) that they receive from God.
A prophet must be a man of prayer. In order to stand in the council of God, he must access him the only way that we, as mortal, flesh and blood human beings can, in prayer.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
A prophet must wait on God to receive his word. If it were as easy as just simply asking and receiving immediate response from God, I do believe we would have many more prophets today. Again, I apologize to the many current day “prophets” out there.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
that I might bless him and multiply him.
For the Lord comforts Zion;
he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
"Give attention to me, my people,
and give ear to me, my nation;
for a law will go out from me,
and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.
My righteousness draws near,
my salvation has gone out,
and my arms will judge the peoples;
the coastlands hope for me,
and for my arm they wait.
A prophet, most times, must suffer in order to fulfill God’s purposes. It helps not only with the formation of their person and soul, but it enforces the legitimacy of their message and makes it more consumable.
Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
A prophet must speak encouragement. Just because we know the verses of destruction does not mean that prophets are all doom and gloom.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4
On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
A prophet must offer guidance and direction. They have advised kings and generals, and they need to do the same for the body of Christ (in an encouraging manner – with Love - or not at all).
1 Samuel 22:5
Then the prophet Gad said to David, "Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah." So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.
Make this connection with me today. A prophet and a disciple – do they truly differ? I know that the spiritual gifts that we learn about can designate that certain actions fall upon certain individuals, but I am here today to tell you that no gifts can fall upon those who do not follow the way of the prophet – it is the way to the disciple, it is the teaching of Jesus.
Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
Whatever you ask for in my name, it will come to you.
Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Pray to God. Spend time with him, in his council. This means:
Be present – make time in your life for time with God
Speak your requests – concerns – adoration – thankfulness
See Him and hear Him both in prayer time and in your day-to-day
Pay attention and listen to God – Shut Up! Sometimes
Wait on God and His timing. Do not rush, do not worry, but trust in him.
Make your request
Spend your time (seeing, hearing, paying attention, and listening)
Do not act or speak out of turn, confirm that God has directed
Suffer for the sake of Jesus. You have to be willing to feel and you have to be willing to allow God to provide for you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even financially.
Trust His direction
Speak encouragement upon your neighbors and your enemies.
Stop hating on people
Stop making excuses, for yourself and others
Stop tearing others and their dreams and ministries down (God will tear down what He does not want)
Offer guidance and direction to your friends, to your family, and to your community. This is one of those “if, then” ones. IF you can do the above, THEN do this.
Listen to others first
Bring that to God
Share what God shares with you (after you have waited on God)
Jonah’s trip to Tarshish was him burying his talent in the back yard. He knew God – he was an ultimate 5 most times – but he decided, through his adjective emotions, what path he would take. And God knew all along what would happen, what needed to happen with Jonah.
God was teaching Jonah about the condition of man. Nineveh is the condition of man. Though they would ultimately choose death, God wanted to offer life. God did offer life. God still does offer life.
Prophets shared a word from God. Because of Jesus, we share the Word of God.