Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jonah - Whale Vomit

Jonah 2:10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

There is so much in this one verse, I'll try to keep it short. First off, God tells the fish what to do. He is the God over everything - the land the sea AND the animals. He's the God over us. Here's the thing though - the fish doesn't have a choice like Jonah had - God said vomit, the fish vomits. God told Jonah to 'go' and Jonah decided he didn't want to - because God has given us free will. It makes me think of the movie "Ella Enchanted" where she was given the gift of 'obedience' and whenever she was told to do something - she had to do it. God wants us to 'want' to do what He asks us to do because we love Him, not because He's making us. Okay, moving on...

The whale vomits Jonah onto the shore. I know Kay had commented about the smell - and truly at this point the smell has got to be unbearable. But here comes the irony - did you know that whale vomit, also known as ambergris, loses the awful smell and becomes a very good smell, one that people pay a lot of money for today. When a whale vomits, it floats on the ocean, it comes in various shapes and sizes and colors. The tossing of the ocean waves and the salt in the water have a "curing" effect and soon the vomit has a very pleasant aroma that's used medicinally and in perfumes - very expensive perfumes because of the rarity of ambergris. Jonah, ironically, is whale vomit. He is stinky and yucky right now, but he's been tossed through the storm he's been 'cured' by God and now (and we haven't come to these verses yet, but we will) he will become the sweet smelling rarity that God needs for His purpose. The question today is - Are we willing to hang in through the tough, stinky times - so that we can become that sweet aroma for Jesus?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Jonah - The Prayer

Jonah 2:1-9 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."

This was Jonah's prayer when he was inside the fish. First of all, it's not like Jonah had a piece of paper and pen with him to jot it down - so all this was from his memory. The Lord gives us what we need to complete the task at hand. In all that Jonah had gone through - he remembered his talk with God.

He talks about how he cried out for God as the water washed over him - I'm gonna guess he probably didn't even know what was happening at first - it was dark, there was a storm, all that water. Maybe he thought he was dead and without God and cried for him to come and take him - how sad is that! He tells God that he knows he was taken away from Him and yet he will still look for that hope.

He describes the things that must have been already eaten by the fish and how it was on his body now, the fear that must have been haunting Jonah was pushed aside by his faith - so much so that he mentions the unfortunate people who worship idols and do not have the hope that he has. He praises God and thanks Him - even in the midst of the unknown - in his fear - in his darkest hour - he continues to claim God's unfailing salvation.

Who is this man?! We know Jonah as the guy who got swallowed by the whale - his big claim to fame. But what about his faith in the darkest moment, his hold onto God's saving grace - sure he made some bad choices - don't we all - but what strength he has in God's truth. That's what we need to see in Jonah - not that he disobeyed God, but that when the chips were down, he held fast in the truth. Can we say the same?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jonah - Oh My!

Jonah 1:17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Oh My Goodness! He got swallowed by a fish!! All the horror stories out there, the huge snakes that eat people, the sharks that attack, the alligators chomping on their victims - can you imagine getting tossed into the ocean - expecting death and then getting swallowed by a fish! As if the thought of drowning wasn't bad enough.

Have you ever had to go into the hospital and been stuck there for any length of time? Not an emergency room visit - which is frustrating in itself, but a few days of being in the hospital - on bed rest. I go crazy - even with a TV in the room. But three days trapped inside the stomach of a fish?!?! Oh my goodness!!

So I did a little research. The gross picture you see here is the result of gastric juices on skin - that which are contained in the stomach (of a fish as well), for only a few hours. Can you imagine the results after three days?!??! The man in the picture had a full recovery with no ill side effects - and even during the time the gastric juice was on him, maintained stable vitals. Interesting.

So not only was he trapped where he couldn't move, his skin was being damaged and there was nothing he could do - except - cry out to God. Why oh why do we wait until we are at the bottom of the barrel before we'll do what we should've done in the first place? Jonah had already admitted he was wrong - but he hadn't yet talked to God about it. Don't wait until your in the belly of the whale before you decide it's time to talk to God. . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jonah - Forgiveness

Jonah 1:11-16 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 to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O 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.

Jonah admits his full guilt and is willing to accept full punishment. Wages of sin is death, right? How hard do you think it was for Jonah to offer up his own life for these men? He offers up his life so that the men might be saved from the storm. These men, who did not know Jonah before this trip, do not want to kill Jonah. They desperately struggle to try and get him back to shore - but God is in control. It was then that a miracle inside this miracle took place - these men cried out to God for forgiveness and then tossed Jonah overboard.

I wonder if Jonah had not admitted his sin - tried to cover it up - if these men would've responded differently. Would they have tried so hard to get Jonah back to safety - would they have ever known how mighty God is?

There is something to be said about openly confessing our sins. Yes, it's embarrassing to have our dirty laundry aired, but God can use our humility for His glory. There's nothing more convicting than someone that's broken who's crying out to God for forgiveness. And let's face it - we all need to cry out to God. . .

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jonah - 20 Questions

Jonah 1:7-10 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 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 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.)

When the storm hit here this past week, and the hurricane that demolished New Orleans hit - you didn't hear anybody saying, "Okay, who's runnin' from God". "We need to get someone out of the city that's causing this problem for us". These men in the boat knew who was in charge of the weather, knew that there was a God, simply by knowing nature. People only need to look at the flowers to know that God exists and put those works of art in our front yard as a constant reminder of His love for us.

Anyway, they figure out it's Jonah and that's where the 20 questions begin. What gets me is that Jonah admits everything. "I'm a Hebrew, I worship the one true God." Someone who justifies his belief, willing to stand firm in a crowd of men who do not believe and yet not smart enough to rest in God's authority and do what he was told. These men are shocked and want to know what Jonah has done to cause this storm.

Sin is a part of our life, it's a constant struggle day in and day out to get up and do our best to stay on track. There is nothing Satan would like more than to let us think that because we sin - we cannot be a witness for Christ. The truth is, it's because we sin that we need Christ and want to be a witness for Him. We know the hope that comes by being in a relationship with Him and other people need to know that we are not perfect, just forgiven. Perhaps by sharing these things - as Jonah shared with those men that he was running - will help people realize that God wants us all to seek Him, no matter what we're running from.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jonah - Tropical Storm

Jonah 1:4-6 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, and we will not perish."

Well, we went a total of 49 hours without power during Tropical Storm Fay. Thursday evening from 11:00 p.m. until Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Then again from Saturday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. Because sometimes it's not the storm, it's the aftermath, the damage caused by the storm. This is what was going on with Jonah - a terrible storm. Those aboard were worried about the damage the storm would cause to their ship.

Each man on board all prayed to their own god (waste of time) and then began throwing out cargo to lighten the ship. How often do we do that today? Instead of going to the ultimate power source, we try to get rid of those things around us that we 'think' might be the problem in the midst of the struggle.

Where was Jonah? Sleeping - just like a man when there's stress. The captain found him and said "call on your god". Wow. Talk about a witnessing opportunity - all these men have been crying out to what they have believed to be the one true god, and then in the midst of the storm - abandon their beliefs and ask Jonah who his god is - and could He help.

The sad thing is this: when we're running from God, when we're in the midst of sin, it's hard to be an effective witness for Christ. So, not only are we shorting ourselves by hindering our relationship with God, we are missing opportunities to share Him with other people. How many people will we pass up because we are too caught up in our own sin that we can't be effective for the Kingdom? Thank God He is so quick to forgive and take us back and use us in spite of ourselves.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jonah - Stupidity Runs Amuck

Jonah 1:3 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.

Have you ever done something wrong, but not realized how stupidly wrong it was until later. (Sometimes YEARS later). I wonder if this is how Jonah felt.

First of all, it doesn't even say Jonah thought about doing what God said, he just got up and ran. Didn't want to go near those Ninevites, didn't want them to get saved, wasn't happy that God loved them too. Oh my my...

Next thing, he heads in the opposite direction, and as we know, he could've just stayed right where he was and saved his sandals some wear and tear - cause God just watched him walk all the way to Joppa. It makes me think of my sister-in-laws' three year old niece. On Tuesday, my sister-in-law went into labor with her first child, a month early (she had a little girl, so precious) but her niece hung out in the waiting room with all of us. When someone would talk to her, she would close her eyes - we all thought she was going to sleep, that's when her mother told us that she thinks we can't see her when she closes her eyes. Reality is a hard fact of life.

THEN, as if the fact that he thinks walking in the opposite direction will hide him from God, he PAYS to get on a boat. This is really the height of stupidity. Hard earned money that's wasted on a useless endeavor (we've all been there on that one).

Finally Jonah got on board the ship, and it states "to flee from the LORD". Do you ever think Jonah looked back at this verse and said "What was I thinking?" "Hiding from God... who can do that?" It may just be a scare tactic we use on our kids "God can see you, even when I can't..." But the truth is, He can see everything, and not just when we're doing something wrong. He's there all the time, watching over us, protecting us, guiding us and always always always loving us.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jonah - Begins

Jonah 1:1-2 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."

Now normally, I like to pick the lives of women out of the Bible to study - mostly because I can relate better in one way or another - but Jonah, lots of good stuff here as well, so I'm ready to begin on a journey to Ninevah. Join me, won't you?

So the Bible tells us that the Lord came to Jonah. Now I don't know whether He spoke out loud or in a dream or wrote on a wall - but it was a definite word from God. Apparently the city of Nineveh - very prominent in its day - maybe equal to New York City or some other financially booming, populated city - was in need of revival.

We can look at this a couple of ways: Remembering that we all sin and the way our country is headed, we're not far off Nineveh as it is - I get the fear that Noah may have had for his people as I type this during Tropical Storm Fay and worry about the power going off. Anyway, the people of Nineveh have gotten off the right track - God's track - so, they can either get upset and angry that someone would tell them how they needed to stop acting the way they were and get right with God, or they could be pleased that someone loved them enough to tell them God wanted them to repent because He loved them so much.

People are no different today. You can expect the same response when you're faced with the task of sharing the gospel - either they resent you for trying to tell them how to live, or they appreciate that you care enough to tell them about Jesus. The thing is, it's not our job to worry about the response - we're called to share the Truth with everyone, regardless of what their opinion is of why we are doing it. It is not easy though - such is the life of Jonah - who can relate??

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rahab - ends.

Joshua 2:23-24 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, "The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us."

Have you ever wondered if what you had purposed to do is actually working - or is it pointless - a time waster. I went to a small church and when I had recently graduated high school, I had been asked to be the music leader for camp one year. I had put a few songs together that the kids had probably not heard of before and decided that we would sing these songs - got the music together and headed to camp. The first song I taught the kids was very simple - you may have heard it "What a mighty God we serve" - pretty simple. The kids caught on fairly quickly and we sang it through a few times. When it came time to learn the other few songs that I had the music for, they had such a difficult time. They never seemed to get the other songs and so we always fell back on "What a mighty God we serve". So for the whole week, we'd spend the first 5 minutes of each lesson trying to learn new music and the last 5 minutes singing "What A Mighty God We Serve". :) Although I knew God had worked through camp, and I did the right thing by helping out with the music - I never thought it was really useful because the kids didn't catch on to the other songs I was trying to teach them. Until. . . about two weeks after the camp was over, a father of one of the children came up to me and said - "Thank you for teaching that song "What a Mighty God we serve" to my daughter. She has been walking around the house for the last two weeks and that is all she sings. I'm glad that she realizes we do serve a Mighty God. How awesome is that!

This is what Rahab has done for Joshua in these verses. Joshua who was following God and doing as he was told but not really seeing the benefits, finally has his doubts vanquished with the realization of what Rahab told his men . . . The LORD has surely given the whole land into the Israelites hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us. Joshua's strength and courage are renewed, because it is true . . . We do serve a Mighty God!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rahab - Promise

Joshua 2:16-22 Now she had said to them, "Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way." The men said to her, "This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear." "Agreed," she replied. "Let it be as you say." So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them.

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book and you want it to just - get to the next part. It's the part where you 'get it' and you want it to just move along already. You see, we know all this part - there has already been a discussion about this and now we're being told again. Why? Why do you think God found this particular interaction so important that it needed to be elaborated on.

Let's ponder that. Rahab gives the men exact instructions. Then the men give her exact instructions. She follows their exact instructions. They follow her exact instructions. All goes according to plan. Is it really that simple? I know that this situation involves life and death for all parties involved and there is a lot on the line, but is the same not true in our relationships today.

If we make a promise to someone, even though they may not die if you do
n't keep your promise, it's still important to stay true to our word. That's the way it's supposed to work. It can be something as simple as promising your kids to take them to the park if they finish their homework, or that promise we made to our spouse by saying "I do" (and all that stuff involved in those two words). Isn't it funny how when one of the parties doesn't stay true to their promise - the earth seems to shatter and our whole world seems to fall apart.

God set up this promise thing a long time ago. He's made us a wonderful promise and gave us specific instructions on what we do on our end. It's such a simple instruction - we find it in Romans 3:23-26. Call on Jesus - He is preparing a place for us. All will go according to His plan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rahab - Brick House

Joshua 2:14-15 "Our lives for your lives!" the men assured her. "If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land." So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.

Before the Geneva Convention, before the Hague laws - rules of war were established right here in the Bible. You rat us out and get us killed - you will be killed. You help us out and stay true to your word, we will protect you.

Rahab agreed. Now it tells us she let them down by a rope through the window. Because as you remember, the gate was closed and locked up. Rahab's house was a part of the city wall - so by letting them out her window - she was actually letting them out of the city.

Now here's one of those verses that make you stop and think for a moment. This is sort of like reading ahead to see what happens at the end of the book, but we all know in Joshua Chapter 6 they march around the city for seven days and the wall came down. All of the wall - EXCEPT Rahab's house. Did you get that? Rahab's house was part of the city wall - and her house stayed intact.

Can you imagine if the king of Jericho had the chance to see that? All of a sudden, these trumpets start sounding and people start yelling and the whole city caves
except Rahab's house - hmmmmmmm.

Isn't it great to be able to fully trust that God will take care of it - no matter how far-fetched? Also, that we don't always need to know beforehand how God will handle it. If those men had known and told Rahab - 'okay, we're gonna march and yell and the city will fall.' Rahab could've said, 'but my house is part of the city, maybe we should meet at my father's house, or let me show you where my friend lives, maybe that would be a better place'. Sometimes God doesn't let us in on His plan because He knows we are going to try and mess it up - all in our attempts to help Him out. Hint: He doesn't need our help. So be strong and know that He has it all in control and even when everything else is crumbling down around you, He is protecting you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rahab - Pot Roast Anyone?

Joshua 2:12-13 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death."

Talk about bold! Rahab had just told these guys that she knows the Lord is with them, that He is God and that the whole of Jericho is terrified - and then she asks them for a favor. What?!? She asks them to swear by God that she will be spared along with her family when they destroy Jericho.

The Israelites have been traipsing around questioning God at what seems like every corner and this girl Rahab gets it in one night. She knows that God will do what He promised He would do and she needed protection, because the city would be His.

It's so ironic how this request and what we'll read in the next couple of verses parallel how we should be in our relationship with God. She realizes that she has only given them kindness, but she is asking for the lives of her and her family in return. We know that whatever we do, it will never come close to the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross - yet God still wants us to come to Him and ask. . . whatever it is! Whether you're asking for something simple like the pot roast to turn out okay for dinner, or the cancer patient down the street - turn it wholly over to God and watch miracles happen - just like for the strong and courageous - Rahab.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rahab - Now What?

Joshua 2:10-11 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Rahab is recalling events that have happened years and years and years ago - the Red Sea, that's like our children recalling the Vietnam War as though they served in the forces during that time. Rahab recalls the events in detail - the destruction that was put upon the Amorite royalty. She probably wasn't even born at the time this was happening, yet she has remembered all the details as they have been told by others.

Rahab then begins to describe the feelings she has for God. That she knew that He is the God in heaven and on earth. Here's my question... If Rahab has heard the story and everyone's heart has melted, and they know that He is the one true God - why haven't they changed their ways?

Is this the way it is today? - are there so many people out there that know t
he truth, but are just waiting for someone to knock on their door so they can tell them and finally confess that 'yes', God is in charge - now what? I guess that's what we are - we're the "Now What" team. We, as Christians, get to be the ones to be the door that others can open into the next step of 'what now'. Which leads us into my favorite verse, listed at the top of my blog. So be strong and courageous and keep 1 Peter 3:15 in your heart.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rahab - Tired/Wired?

Joshua 2:8-9 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.

So Rahab gets rid of the guys who are after the men she was hiding and then she runs up on the roof to talk to them before they fall asleep. Did you catch that? Before they fall asleep! They've been sent into a foreign land to spy on the area to destroy it, they meet up with a ... prostitute ... who for some reason agrees to hide them - the king's men are looking for them, they are hiding under a huge pile of flax on a rooftop, they have no idea what Rahab has said to the kings men and they're about to fall asleep. Just like a man. The whole world is falling in around them and they just want to lay down and take a nap.

Now I know I'm poking a little fun, but the truth is - maybe these men finally have it together. They have taken the position to trust God and be strong and courageous and know that they are being watched over. They are not the ones in fear.

Rahab just confesses it all - she tells them the whole land knows that God has promised them Jericho and that everyone is afraid of them because God does what He says He will do and imminent death is afoot for the inhabitants of the city. If that's the case, why is it that the people of the city are not seeking out God???? Any parallels here?

We, as a country, can see the decline in schooling since they've taken prayer out. The destruction that has wreaked havoc on us because we have gone so far from the will of God many won't even say He exists. The writing is on the wall - it's so easy to see - yet people are not willing to give up their own ways in search of His ways. We have to be strong enough to stand up for what is true and courageous enough to boldly proclaim it to whoever will listen - but will we.......

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rahab - Seamstress??

Joshua 2:6-7 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

First of all - what is flax?? and why was there so much of it on Rahab's roof that it could cover two men so completely that they were hidden from sight? Here's another proof of God's hand in this meeting. I'm not really familiar with the prostitution business (thank goodness), but I've never seen a movie or documentary where the woman in this business has a job at McDonald's or Burger King or some other side job. Whether their pimp won't allow it, or the money they make for just an hour of work is enough to cover the bills. But the flax was Rahab's second job - flax is used to make clothing - it's a very tedious process, but it's not like they had a Walmart back then. At what point in her life do you think Rahab decided she should start making clothes?

Is it not possible that the job you hold now, the one you think is more time consuming with less immediate income is providing something far more than monetary gain?? It certainly was in Rahab's case - in became the shelter for men of God - a hiding place from the enemy. Wow!

We're told in verse 7 that the king's agent set out in pursuit of the men as they were told by Rahab, and look at the last part of the verse "as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut". Is that to let us know that the men at Rahab's house were locked in, or that the agents were making sure no one else would come back into the city while they were chasing the other men? Whatever the reason, it looks as though God's men might be trapped.

God is so much bigger than a locked door. We've heard the age old adage "when God closes a door, He opens a window" OR - He may knock the whole house down, or give you the ability to fly over the wall - the point is - if we have faith and trust in God - we don't need to know how, we just need to look for the miracle and be blessed by it - so be strong and courageous - God has a plan, and we're a big part of it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rahab - Team Player

Joshua 2:4-5 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them."

Have you ever done something that was totally out of character for you and you really don't know why you did it, but you did it anyway? This was Rahab. She does not have a reason to lie for these men. From what we know of her character, she was not the type of person to do good for no reason. They have not promised her anything, she was not offered money - why in the world would she protect these men she did not know? Not only that, she then sent the kings special agents on a wild goose chase.

The thing is, God does not need you to be a member of His team for you to score points for His team. The truth is, you need Him. You also don't have to be of the elite to be used by Him. Here's the amazing thing - Rahab was unaware of the way God was working in her life - sometimes we know that God's way is better and we still don't have the courage to stand against what we believe to be wrong the way Rahab did. So stand strong... and win one for The team

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rahab - Decision Time

Joshua 2:2-3 The king of Jericho was told, "Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land." So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: "Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land."

Apparently Jericho has its own group of agents looking out over the city because word gets out to the king that the spies were in town and they were "staying" with Rahab. Now everyone knew that Rahab was a prostitute - it would not seem unlikely to the king that she would have men in her room and not know why they had come into the city. She was simply working. Which is why the king sends message to her doorstep and politely request she send the men out.

Rahab is faced with a situation. She could give up the spies - She could ask the king for money to give him the spies - She could blackmail the spies into giving her money not to give them up. If we were to watch a movie, and the character was a prostitute - wouldn't one of these choices be what we'd expect of a character with this background.

That's the problem we have as sinners. Satan is working hard for you to get discouraged as a Christian by either trying to live up to what people expect of you, or live down what people already know about you. If we let Satan make us think that we are not worthy to share God's gospel, then we will be beaten. The truth is, none of us are worthy, that's where Jesus comes in. It is only through Jesus that we can even begin to get through this time with any hope. So be Strong and Courageous - as God calls His people to be.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rahab - 007, The Intel.

Joshua 2:1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

Chapter 2 of Joshua introduces us to Rahab, but here is some background: Moses is dead, and Joshua is now leading the Israelites into the promised land. What does that mean exactly? God had made a promise that the Israelites would be given every place where they set their foot (see Joshua 1:3 - for the reiteration). If we were to look back, we can see that these people have had a time of it. Yet, while obeying God, they are able to make it through. God made it very clear that they either follow what Joshua says (because he is listening to God) or be put to death.

In verse 1 we see Joshua giving the command for two of his men to go into the next land - Jericho. They are doing surveillance work. Scoping out the battlefield. Here's the thing - God has promised them every land they set foot on, yet they still have to set up and prepare and actually go into battle - with God's call to be "strong and courageous". Joshua 1:18. These men do not stop and say "Joshua, God has already promised us this land, do we HAVE to go check it out? He's gonna give it to us anyway and we're kinda tired from all the walking." No, they do as they are told, they put in the work.

Aren't we like that today? God has promised us that He is preparing a place for us and that one day, our enemies will be gone and we will have joy everlasting - that does not mean we can slack off while we're still here on earth. We still have a job to do, God is still in control - no matter the situation - and He calls us to be Strong and Courageous! Along our journey of life, doing what we are called to do - we will be blessed by the people we meet from all walks of life - just like they were blessed when they met the unlikely: Rahab. . .

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tamar - Ends

Genesis 38:28-30 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, "This one came out first." But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, "So this is how you have broken out!" And he was named Perez. Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out and he was given the name Zerah.

This sounds like a very painful childbirth - babies popping out body parts and then pulling them back in - epidurals were not common place at this time. But the point is not lost:

Perez and Zerah were now sons of Judah - belonging to the tribes of Judah. Perez, who in all the confusion of being born, ended up coming out first and became part of the direct line of descendents for our Savior - See Matthew Chapter One.

In this Soap Opera storyline, Tamar became a grandmother of Jesus (great grandmother X alot) but a grandmother - nonetheless. Are we willing to do whatever God calls us to do - to further His kingdom, whether we know what the reason is or not?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tamar - Mystery Solved.

Genesis 38:26-27 Judah recognized them and said, "She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn't give her to my son Shelah." And he did not sleep with her again. When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.

Have you ever been wronged by someone and then, in that final moment when revenge is about to be sweet - they turn around with humility and say "I was wrong, and I'm sorry"? I don't know about you, but anytime I get an apology like that, the only response is - "Oh, okay." This was Judah.

When Tamar made that final call and confronted Judah with his seal and cord and staff - it really could've gone either way. She didn't know what he would do - he could've gone off on a rage at having been tricked, he could've paid off the messenger to be quiet... But God was with Judah as well. Judah admitted he was wrong to not give his youngest son to Tamar and that Tamar took matters into her own hands and set the record straight.

Now the latter part of verse 26 is something that catches my attention: "and he did not sleep with her again". Why? Why is this mentioned? Could it be to once again solidify the fact that this was, in fact, by the hand of God? It means that Judah was obviously not burning with passion for Tamar - and that is not the reason he slept with her outside the city. It means that he was now fulfilling his duty and taking care of Tamar (not for sex) - since that is what he should have been doing all along.

Then in verse 27, the mystery from before is solved. She was having twins! That's why she was so big at 3 months! It just goes to show that it really does not matter the circumstances, the trials in life, the way you've been wronged. God still wants the best for you and from you - and miracles still happen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tamar - In Your Face

Genesis 38:24-25 About three months later Judah was told, "Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant." Judah said, "Bring her out and have her burned to death!" As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. "I am pregnant by the man who owns these," she said. And she added, "See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are."

Now, I must say that Tamar must have either been really thin, wearing really tight clothing or having a very big baby - because she's not even three months yet and the grapevine is already spreading its way to Judah's house.

It was not commonplace to burn an adulteress to death at this time. Burn her skin - mark her - scar her - but not death. However, Judah is still all up in arms about his duty to supply her with his youngest son - which he still does not want to do. What a perfect way to get Tamar out of the picture than to have her put to death for sinning against his oldest son.

I wish I could have been there to see the look on Judah's face when he got the message Tamar sent. I would have been like "nanny, nanny, boo, boo" - I just don't think that's what this messenger did though. Judah was shown his seal and cord and staff (driver's license - remember) and his sin of that day - three months ago - hit him like a ton of bricks.

For those of us that are dealing with people who have wronged us, this is a perfect example of how God works out things for those that are faithful to Him. His promise is one we can stand on - even when it looks as if all hope is lost...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tamar - Human Nature

Genesis 38:19-23 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow's clothes again. Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there, "Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?" "There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here," they said. So he went back to Judah and said, "I didn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, 'There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here.' " Then Judah said, "Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn't find her."

Why do we get told that Tamar took off her veil and put on her widow's clothes again? I think it's to let us know that she is keeping her actions a secret. She immediately leaves and goes back to her house and her daily life without anyone the wiser.

Judah - in an attempt to "fulfill" his promise, he sends his friend to pay off his debt. Judah did not go himself - why is that? Was he trying not to see the girl again so he wouldn't have to be tempted? Was he feeling guilty and didn't want anyone to see him talking to her again? Was he afraid she was going to ask him for more than just a goat? Whatever the reason, he sends his friend who agrees to go. While he was there, he couldn't find her.
The friend is forced to go into the city and ask around for the prostitute that was hanging outside the city. The men tell him that there had not been a prostitute outside the city.

Here's my question, how did they know there had not been a prostitute there? My guess is that all the "business" that was taken care of was happening inside the city were the parties were occurring.
Judah is told by his friend that he couldn't find her and Judah says - "well, we did all we could". He didn't want the embarrassment of letting everyone know what he'd done.

I think that many of us act the same way. Instead of humbling ourselves and admitting that we've made a mistake, we try to scrape the surface and pretend that there is nothing more we can do. The truth is, God already knows exactly what we've done and when we try to act as though it's not a big deal - we're just fooling ourselves.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tamar - It's Still a Miracle

Genesis 38:17-18 "I'll send you a young goat from my flock," he said. "Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?" she asked. He said, "What pledge should I give you?" "Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand," she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.

So Judah promises to pay her with a goat. Now, a goat at that time - according to sources - went for 10 drachmas. An architect got paid 2 drachmas a day - so Tamar was being offered a weeks wages of a well-paid professional. Not bad for 10 - minutes (or so :)). However, it's a little disturbing to think that Judah has this type of disposable income and instead of offering it to Tamar willingly as his widowed daughter-in-law, she has to trick him into it. Nevertheless, this is not about the money - so I'll get back on track.

Because he didn't have the goat with him, he wanted to know what he could give her as collateral until he could give her the goat. Now turning tricks on credit may have been something done back then - but I'm sure it's not done today. Still, he gave her his seal and cord - the equivalent of his driver's license. It was a sure sign of his identity - exactly who it was that was sleeping with her.

Now look at the last 5 words of these verses. Remember we had mentioned in the last post about this being nothing short of miraculous. Tamar is pregnant! There are married couples who pay a years worth of income in order to become fertile and have children - Tamar gets one shot and 'bang' she's with child. God does work miracles - whether we want to see it as such or not - it's all in His timing - in His perfect plan - in His infinite mercy and grace.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tamar - It's A Miracle

Genesis 38:15-16 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, "Come now, let me sleep with you." "And what will you give me to sleep with you?" she asked.

There is so much to look at in these two verses that it is nothing short of miraculous.

Judah did not recognize his daughter-in-law on the street. How do you not recognize someone who was married to two of your sons and lived in your house - even if it had been several years? You think he would've at least found her familiar. The veil may have covered her face - but her voice? her mannerisms? . . . MIRACLE

Let's look at what didn't happen: Tamar is not "hiding" on the side of the road - she's openly pretending to be a prostitute - why is it that Judah is the only one to proposition her? Many people came to this event, and yet it does not tell us she had to turn away anyone . . . MIRACLE

What about the fact that Judah's supposed to be a man of God? Sleeping with prostitutes was not his habit. He had been married for a long time - it never mentions he was unfaithful and yet, shortly after the death of his wife - he boldly solicits sex . . . MIRACLE

Let's look at Tamar: I don't know about you, but if I had to talk to my father-in-law about sex, I might run from the room. But Tamar gathered up her courage and asks what he's willing to pay to sleep with her; and she didn't vomit . . . MIRACLE

Now I don't know if Tamar looked at this particular moment in time as miraculous. She probably saw it as a struggle or a last straw. What do we see during the struggles in our life? When we're down to our last straw? Are we able to see the MIRACLE behind it?