Jonah 3:1-10 – Are You Ready?

Read Jonah 3:1-10

We don’t see people today wearing burlap as a sign of cleansing and repentance. But in Jonah’s time, it would have been amazing to see, even the king, listening and responding to the warning from God. What Jonah proclaimed was destruction. He didn’t give them an “unless.” That is, Nineveh will be destroyed unless you repent! But the people showed their respect, and their tears of sorrow melted God’s heart.

It was quite unexpected to see the people of Nineveh believing God’s word. I think of the Israelites who went on and on living their idol worshipping lives despite the efforts of Jeremiah, for example. He told them to repent because their worship of other gods angered the one true God.

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Jeremiah 4:3-18 – Change Your Heart

Read Jeremiah 4:3-18

white heart flowers

Jeremiah’s ministry was focused on Judah, but it was helpful to show God’s intentions in our last reading regarding Israel. In this current passage, we see God’s message to Judah that they still had an opportunity to make things right. The message was clear, however, that it wouldn’t be pretty if they ignored God’s warning.

Did you have any trouble following the narrative today? Both God and Jeremiah are speaking. Of course, Jeremiah is speaking God’s message, so the people are hearing Jeremiah’s voice preaching and ministering to them. Jeremiah’s plea was to God on Judah’s behalf. A couple of the verses seem like they recount a vision Jeremiah may have had announcing the destruction.

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Jeremiah 2:14-22 – Consequence of Sin

Read Jeremiah 2:14-22

sin chasm separating us from God

The Lord’s rage continues as Jeremiah tells us what will happen because of the sinfulness. It’s not a pretty picture. Did the people not think about the consequences to their actions? It’s hard to know what motivated the people to choose idols, mere images of foreign gods, over the one true God. We can look at people making similar choices today and wonder why, for instance, they chose to sleep in versus getting up for church.

That’s a simplistic example. I used to feel extremely guilty when I found myself too busy to spend quality time with God. I’m not sure I thought about what the consequences might be. Would God stop loving me? Would he let bad things happen to me? Would he stop fighting my battles?

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Amos 5:1-15 – Simply Repent

Read Amos 5:1-15

man and woman kneeling before a cross with a sun set behind them

I love how Bernhard Anderson’s commentary on Amos states, “Christians should need no special urging to turn to the prophets of ancient Israel.” Don’t we see how Jesus’ own back story is being written in what is happening now to his ancestors. The traditions of Jesus’ day were strongly influenced by what we see happening to Amos and the people surrounding him. Yet, the wisdom being given to Amos from God could just as well be speaking to us. Do you see it, too?

As if they were already dead, in this reading Amos is singing a funeral song to the Israelites who were listening. Can you imagine the lament and feeling of despair the messenger, Amos, was feeling at having to deliver such a message to his people? But he was giving them a way out, a gift that will be left unaccepted.

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Isaiah 65:1-16 – God’s Decision Not Ours

Read Isaiah 65:1-16

quote: you're always one decision away from a totally different life
What kind of life do you want to be living?

Our opening line makes me think about God from a marketing perspective. “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’” In our marketing classes, we tell our students to be looking for those people who are looking for them. That’s the whole idea of attraction marketing. You want to be attractive and provide the goods or services to those who need them and want them. The image of God I have here is that he is waving his hands trying to get our attention.

How frustrating it must be for God to have given us the keys to the kingdom (in Jesus) only for us to leave them sitting on the table. It’s not just us. These prophetic words were originally directed to the Israelites, a people who was lost. That is, they were separated from God. What do we know of them? They rebelled. They were selfish. They followed other gods. Hmmm. That could be our society.

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