Tag Archives: prophecy

A Whale of a Time with Jonah

God is everywhere and knows all things. Still, we often believe that we’re so insignificant He doesn’t know our thoughts or see what we think we’re doing in private. There’s nowhere we can go to hide from God, as Jonah learned about 2,700 years ago.

Jonah was a prophet – a mouthpiece of God. His job wasn’t to tell the future but relay to the Assyrians what God told him. The problem was that the Assyrians (ruling most of what is now the Middle East) were bloodthirsty and violent—especially toward the Jewish people, God’s people. Through Jonah, He wanted to tell the Assyrians that they would have 40 days to change their ways or be destroyed. Afraid for his life and the possibility that the Assyrians would repent and be spared, Jonah ran from God. But God would have His way.

He sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, who had been thrown overboard his escape vessel by its sailors. Several days later, after Jonah had time to reflect and acknowledge that God wins, the fish vomited up Jonah. He was now free (again)—not to do what he wanted to do, but what he ought to do: obey God.

So, a scary pasty-white Jonah (think about what three days in stomach acids could do to the skin!) walks to Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, to give them God’s ultimatum: repent or else. Thankfully, our God was (and still is) patient and merciful, allowing options and the opportunity to choose wisely. Anyway, the Ninevites decided well and changed their ways (and fate). Jonah was ticked and complained to God, who reminded Him that He oversees all and shows mercy on whom He chooses (the Assyrians, in this case).

God used Jonah to help bring people back to Him. He still calls us to partner with Him to reconcile His creation:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. —2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

God wants us to respond to His call with a resounding, “Yes! I will give my self and all I have to you in complete devotion!” and then be His ambassadors in bringing the Kingdom of God to others. As we learned from Jonah’s example, we can’t run away from God or His desires, so we may as well get on with it!

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part VII

 “The Bible says you can’t change anything in it!”

Misquote: The Bible says you can’t add to or take away . . .”

Like in my last misquote (“In Jesus’ Name”), this misquote is really more of an annoying misunderstanding than anything. Here’s the misused biblical reference:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. —Revelation 22:18-19.

This is the only place in the Bible you’ll find such a warning. And, it pertains to a very specific message given directly from God through Jesus to the Church at large. This makes sense, as it’s the only such direct admonishment from God through our Christ to us. We MUST NOT alter the message!

Having said that, I don’t think I’d want to be responsible for changing the intent of any of the writings of the prophets or Moses in the Torah or the apostles in our New Testament!

Here’s a great rule of thumb: always do your due diligence to understand a biblical writer’s intended message and not interpret it for personal significance or bend it to address a particular situation. In other words, avoid: “this is what it means to me . . .”

“There’s only ONE meaning, but many possible applications . . .”

For more information regarding the return of our Christ and our ‘marriage’ to Him, and of the end of our world as we know it, please consider studying my very comprehensive guide “Finding the End of the World”. You’ll easily find it in paper and electronic format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.ronbraley.com.

Next week, we’ll look at more great examples of personal interpretation and bad hermeneutics as we continue to explore common misquotes and abuses of Scripture. The next topic: “Judging Others

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part IV

“No Weapon Formed Against me will Prosper” & “I can do all things Through Christ”

Let’s continue our Apocalyptic Misquotes with a look at more abuses that support a false and dangerous spiritual rock star mentality.

Misquote #1: “No weapon formed Against me will prosper” I’m continually amazed that we’ll justify our lack of biblical study in part by claiming that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us. And, yet, we’ll pluck Scripture out of its context to support bad doctrine. Here’s the abused reference for this week’s misquote #1:

 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.—Isaiah 54:17.

In this example (in its entire context), God is issuing a warning and promise through Isaiah about Israel’s current disobedience and loss of protection, and last-days reconciliation with Him. This is part of a near-far prophecy where God is basically saying to Israel, “You’re going to get a smack-down because of your unfaithfulness, but I’ll bring you back to me in the end and no one will harm you because of My protection.

Unfortunately, out-of-context abuse of this reference bolsters today’s Christian spiritual rock star doctrine that God will give us anything we want and nothing bad will happen to us. So, when someone’s prayer isn’t answered the way they believe it should have been and when bad things do happen, common responses from within or by others include, “The devil must be after me!” or “There must be something wrong with your spiritual walk!”.

Neither is necessarily true. First, Satan has no authority or influence on true followers of our Christ. Second, neither God nor our Christ ever promised earthly prosperity or escape from sickness or danger. We’ll talk more about ‘why bad things happen’ in a future blog; however, Jesus’ true followers can expect tribulation now and in the last days (e.g. Matthew 24:9 & 21; John 16:33; Romans 5:3 and 12:12; 1Thessalonians 1:6; Revelation 7:14, 13:10, and 14:12). We’re told to ‘count the cost’ (Luke 14:27-33). And, try telling the apostle Paul that there must’ve been something wrong with his spirit life because of all the trials he had to endure . . . (check out 2Corinthians 11:23-27).

Misquote #2: “I can do all things Through Christ” Here’s yet another verse that, when taken out of context, lends itself to spiritual rock star and superhuman ways of thinking.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13.

This verse is abused because it, like the others we’ve studied recently, has been taken out of its context. Read the entire chapter to determine the intent of the writer, and you’ll find that Paul is saying he has learned to be content in any situation.

Remember 2Corinthians 11:23-27 from Misquote #1? Good. Then you should understand that Paul had persevered through many trials experienced while doing Jesus’ will: preaching the good news of salvation from God’s coming judgment to the lost – all in support of the Father’s overarching will, which is to reconcile mankind to Him.

Christ’s strengthening and resulting perseverance were possible because Paul was doing the will of our Christ and God as he sought the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (cf. Matthew 6:33).

So, if you want the Spirit of God to strengthen you in your activities, aiding in perseverance, then make sure that whatever you’re doing is in pursuit of the will of God as you seek His kingdom before all else.

For more information regarding the return of our Christ and our ‘marriage’ to Him, and of the end of our world as we know it, please consider studying my very comprehensive guide “Finding the End of the World”. You’ll easily find it in paper and electronic format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.ronbraley.com.

Next week, we’ll look at another great example of personal interpretation and bad hermeneutics as we continue to explore common misquotes and abuses of Scripture. The next topic: “God needs an audience to show up – where two or more are gathered . . .”.