Friday, August 31, 2018

Jonah the Contrary Missionary: Jonah Chapter 4


JONAH 4

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

This word “angry” means to burn and glow with white hot anger.

2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Exodus 34:6-7: And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

The whole reason Jonah ran was because down deep he knew they would repent when Jonah wanted them to pay for all the evil they had done to Israel.

3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah was still an anti-Goyite (Gentile) Bigot, so much so he wanted to die.

Ibn Ezra and Radak tells us, “Jonah felt from the start that the Ninevites would repent, thus gaining God’s mercy – and thus reflecting bad upon Israel. Now he prayed that he would not live to see Israel’s destruction.”

To purge this bigotry out of Jonah he sets up an object lesson with a shady gourd as big as a small tree that lived and died in one day. Having his skin bleached by the fish, his skin was probably very sensitive and he for health and comfort he probably required shade.

4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

“What good will it do you to be angry about the whole situation.”

5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

After begrudgingly fulfilling his duty Jonah skipped town, he didn’t even stay for an altar call. He climbed a nearby hill outside of town where the sun was behind him, and waited to see the fireworks of brimstone from the sky! He wanted to see a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah before his very eyes.

Gen. 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

When the pyrotechnic show didn’t happen Jonah was ticked! He knew it wouldn’t but nevertheless hoped God would change His mind.

Jonah had built himself a small Sukkah, a hut or booth so shade him. Being bleached by the great fish’s stomach caused Jonah’s skin to be very sensitive to the sun. He probably burned very easily.

6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

Some translations say it was a Castor plant. Rashi said this was a leafy shady plant. Legends of the Bible tell us that the plant was a Kikayon plant.

Wikipedia says, “The word kikayon is only referenced in the book of Jonah and there is some question as to what kind of plant it is. Some hypotheses include a gourd and a castor oil plant. The concurrent Hebrew usage of the word refers to the castor oil plant.” 

Legends of the Bible goes on further to say that it had 275 leaves each a span long and was more than enough to shade and comfort Jonah.

7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

Same word “prepared” as used with the fish. It is not known what worm it was, but obviously some species of plant eating worm.

8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

The east wind was “prepared” too, as if to bitterly remind him that the shading gourd was dead; all an elaborate plan of ADONAI to reveal Jonah’s selfishness and bigotry.

9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

I believe partial reason for Jonah’s anger is that he saw this Castor plant and a way to relieve and even heal his skin which was bleached and burnt by the acid in the fish’s stomach. It was and in well know that Castor oil can be produced from the Castor plant and such oil has amazing healing properties.

10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Legends of the Bible says, “He began to weep and wish for death to release him from his troubles. But when God led him to the plant, and showed him what lesson he might derive from it – how, though he had not labored for the plant, he had pity on it – he realized his wrong in desiring God to be relentless toward Nineveh, the great city, with its many inhabitants, rather than have his reputation as a prophet suffer taint. He prostrated himself and said; “O God, guide the world according to Thy goodness.””

God loves the Ninevites just as He loves the Israelites. They are both His creation, both his children. He chose one to be caretakers of His Torah but does not love one above the other. Think in terms of a parent, just because Johnny punches and hurts Sally doesn’t mean we love Johnny any less or will punish Johnny the way Sally would like to see him punished. The Ninevites were all sons of Adam, sons of Noah, He created them too.

The Stones Tanak says, “God showed Jonah how wrong he had been by being apathetic to the horrible fate that could have befallen a great city with its huge population.”

The whole episode with the gourd showed just how selfish Jonah was, the shameful flaw of this prophet, more shameful than him being falsely accused of being a false prophet.

This verse tells us that God will remove anything and everything that stands in our way, like an idol, from performing His will.

Preconceived expectation, misplaced priorities, a humanistic flawed sense of justice, all came to a head and poured forth in an irrational way with a much exaggerated verbal display; like that of an unexpected volcanic eruption. A tantrum and irrational words you’d expect from a child gush forth from Jonah like an open flood gate; such a gamut of bi-polar type of emotions, from fearful faith and thanksgiving in chapter two, to blind rash rage and disappointed anger in chapter four.

Like what we call today an “intervention,” God, through miraculous circumstances forces Jonah against his will to fulfill His Divine will. Like forcing our child to take out the trash when their attitude, body language and voice protest, even if they sloppily do the job we don’t care, the point was not to let the child get away with saying, “No,” to us.

Jonah had one divine let down after another, extreme events orchestrated to play back like a video security tape in Jonah’s mind to show how ridiculously selfish and childish the prophet had conducted himself; to contrast his selfishness and his apathy toward others. If Jonah did write this “tell all” memoir, for him to pen this for all to see testifies to his change of heart, his repentance from his bondage of selfish bigotry and the development of the manly character of transparency.

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary comments, “The natural tendency of human writers would be to obscure and hide such a character. But the Spirit of God presents valiant heroes along with petty people to illustrate truth, no matter how weak and unpleasant these characters may have been…”

11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

And that is how the book ends, like a French film, what the heck kind of ending is that!?

But we are left with the silent point:

Jonah 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

“By not including Jonah’s response to God’s question in this verse, the book ends with an effective challenge to each reader to consider whether their priorities are in conflict with God’s priorities. Some would suggest that the phrase “discern between their right hand and their left hand” refers to the spiritual ignorance of the pagan inhabitance of Nineveh. Others say it refers to young children who were not old enough to make rational decisions…” – Key Word Study Bible

Like a “Feed the Children” commercial, this last stinging and echoing line of the LORD was meant to pluck at Jonah’s heart strings.

As mentioned at the very beginning of this book, Jonah is read during Yom Kippur because the book is all about repentance and atonement.

Basically, God is merciful, compassionate and just. He desires all mankind to repent, no matter who they are or what they have done. So too for us in the season of Yom Kippur, we are given that last chance to make things right with God and man.

Lev. 23:26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

Let our hearts break over our fallen and frail human condition. Let all pride, prejudice die within us, let all the filth and cankerous rank surface in our lives that we may face it, deal with it and that we may be purge of all sin and iniquity in our lives; so that we may be a people ready for God to use to change the world.

During the 10 days of Awe prior to Yom Kippur we are lodged, trapped in the corrosive belly of sin. This year and the years to come may we sincerely pray the prayer Jonah prayed:

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, 2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

CONCLUSION:

Many liberal scholars and skeptics would say this story is no more than a moral fish tale, but we have already given scientific and historical backing for these events. Yeshua’s resurrection was not treated as an allegory by Messiah Himself as he likened his future and literal resurrection after three days in the tomb to Jonah’s literal three days in the belly of the great fish (Matt. 12:40). To view the Book of Jonah as just a “fish tale” would imply the Scriptures are fallible as well as our Messiah.

I pray you have enjoyed this commentary and have developed a greater understanding of the love of ADONAI for all mankind and His desire for all to come to Repentance.



Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jonah the Contrary Missionary: Jonah Chapter 3


JONAH 3

1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

“Okay, let’s try this again….” As Jonah is given a second chance, the call to go to Nineveh for a second time.

Some say the phraseology, “word of the LORD came,” in this verse indicates that God showed up in human form, the form of the pre-incarnate Yeshua, like He did Abraham, Jacob and Joshua, to personally give him a message.

2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

Imagine face down in the sand, half dead, feeling and smelling the fresh air like throwing the blankets off of you after hiding under them from the boogie man. Dazed, coughing up water perhaps Jonah gathers his strength and gets up.

3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Scholar believe that the city was not a literal three day walk, but this verbiage means that Nineveh as one of three cities in close proximity to each other, like a triangle; Nineveh, Khorsabad and Nimrud. Nineveh is mentioned because it was the greatest of the three. We know it had 120,000 people living in it (4:11), but perhaps this was the combined population of all three cities, if indeed Jonah preached in all three cities. Now Radak on the other hand says that Nineveh was a literal three days walk across it and that Jonah walked a third of the way and delivered his message.

5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

Legends of the Bible tell us that the king’s name was Osnappar.

7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

To Jonah’s dismay, though he did not preach repentance but impending doom, the Ninevites took it upon themselves to repent; apparently they know Israel’s God was a gracious and compassionate God. They even made their children and animals participate in this process of repentance! We don’t even make our kids fast on Yom Kippur unless they are Bar/Bat Mitzvah age.

In Matthew 12:41 Yeshua states that Nineveh would stand to condemn Israel for their failure to repent and believe in Him.

The Talmud says that the sackcloth and ashes didn’t prove their repentance, but their turning from their evil deeds did and this is what God saw moreso that the outer entrapments of repentance.

Many wonder why gentiles would heed the words of a Jewish Prophet. Rabbis and Sages of old say that the Ninevites repented because of seeing and hearing of Jonah’s miraculous salvation from the belly of a sea monster.

God’s heart broke seeing their seriousness and sincerity in repenting. But this didn’t set well with Jonah. Jonah didn’t share God’s II Peter 3:9 heart, that he doesn’t desire anyone to perish but that all repent.

The phrase, “repent from the evil” implies that God temporarily removed the calamity. Nineveh’s repentance here in the Book of Jonah delayed the Judgment upon them by approximately 100 years.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Jonah, The Contrary Missionary: Jonah Chapter 2


JONAH 2

“Jonah’s prayer is a great affirmation of God’s faithfulness and availability. Jonah realized that nothing could separate one of God’s own from Him, and no situation could ever prevent a sincere prayer from being heard by God (cf. Rom . 8:33-35; James 5:16).” – Key Word Study Bible

1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,

The Hebrew word for “fish” definitely means fish, but remember that they had no formal classifications for species as we do today.

2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

I’m sure it was very warm in the belly and the gastric acids must have burned Jonah’s skin. The muscles of the fishes belly much have felt like that of a boa constrictor.
See: Psalm 120:1; 130:1; 139:7-10; 142:1; Lam. 3:56

3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

See: Lam. 3:55; Psalm 88:6; 42:7
Jonah obviously knew the reason that he had been cast into the sea and the reason that he wasn’t dead yet.

4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

To me this shows Jonah’s faith that God didn’t save him from drowning just to be digested by a great fish! Or, like Abraham believing God would raise Isaac from ash, maybe Jonah believed if he died God would resurrect him.

5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

See: Psalm 69:1; Lam. 3:54
“The miracle of the fish convinced Jonah that God wanted to save his life.”—Rashi
Jonah most likely fasted those three days, but if not he had seaweed available to him, which hints to me that this fish was not carnivorous.

6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

See: Psalm 16:10
Here again is hint of Jonah’s believe of rescue.

7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

The Stones Tanak says, “While plunging deep into the water Jonah thought that he was “barred” from ever seeing dry land again.”

This must have been an initial thought, but as he prayed he say that he was saved from drowning for a purpose, and in the back of his mind I am sure he know what that was.

To remember the LORD is an idiom to remember His covenant and repent. Here Jonah repents.

8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

A Midrash seems to indicate that Jonah is not only thanking G-d for his rescue, but for the souls that came to him on the boat that he was tossed from. “During the storm, the sailors had observed the futility of praying to their gods, so they vowed to turn to HaShem, and no longer bestow their kindness on idols.”

9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

Jonah thanks God in a voice of faith that believes he will be saved from this fleshy aquatic coffin. He admits and recognized that he is helpless and whatever happens would be the LORD’S doing.

Jonah seems to be waxing very Poetically David like in these first nine verses of chapter two.

10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

Three days later, like after a hangover from a bad party the giant fish barfs and hurls Jonah on the shores that lead to Nineveh.

Now we rarely look at the scientific side of this because we are so wrapped up in the story. Some say that, “The belly of a whale is too small to hold a man therefore the Bible cannot be trusted.” The Sperm Whale has a large enough mouth and esophagus to swallow a man whole. They are also known to vomit up large pieces of food when dying and so Johan being vomited up on dry land is not a stretch. Also, some whales will beach themselves when they are dying. Also Sperm Whales inhabit the Mediterranean Sea where Jonah was. Marshall Jenkins, was swallowed by a Sperm Whale in the South Seas. The Boston Post Boy, October 14, 1771, reported that an Edgartown (U.S.A.) whaling vessel struck a whale, and that after the whale had bitten one of the boats in two, it took Jenkins in its mouth and went under the water with him. After returning to the surface, the whale vomited him on to the wreckage of the broken boat, "much bruised but not seriously injured.... (http://www.grmi.org/renewal/Richard_Riss/evidences/8jonah.html)" There is a story about a Japanese whaler that was swallowed by a whale. When his co-workers landed the whale and were cutting it up, they found the man in the stomach but was totally white in color. Amazingly he was barely alive but did survive.

“The biblica1 story of Jonah and the whale was repeated in Australian waters in 1820 when a crewman from the American whaler Essex was lost overboard from a harpoon boat.
Two hours later, as the whale was being stripped of its blubber, the crew noticed movement and slit open the mammal’s stomach.
The man said he remembered passing down a narrow passage and then he fainted inside a "large, noisome space."” – “Modern Jonah?” Australasian Post, December 3, 1988

“I began to realize just what I had found about four years later. In the meantime I had finished my doctoral work on 17th century science and launched my career in college teaching. One day as I was preparing a lecture on anti-evolutionism in the period between Scopes and Henry Morris I pulled the old Winona volume off the shelf, whereupon the two enclosures again fell out. This time I looked at them more closely. One, when I had succeeded in unfolding it without adding to the several tears it already possessed, revealed itself as an article on "Jonah and the Whale" by Professor Albertus Pieters of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, published in the Moody Bible Institute Monthly in September, 1930. In less than two pages the author considered whether it was in fact possible (it was) for a man to live inside the belly of a whale for three days. In the process he cited not only some accepted scientific authorities but also two other sources that related a very curious story of a modern Jonah that was repeated in the second enclosure, which was clearly a tract. "A SAILOR SWALLOWED BY A WHALE," the tract proclaimed in large letters above a poorly printed picture captioned, "A Sperm whale crushes a boat." The tract bore no date, but pronounced discoloration of the two pages in Winona Echoes between which it had been lodged indicated that it couldn't be much younger than the book. It carried the by-line of one Fred T. Fuge, whoever he was, but in fact quoted (apparently verbatim) at length from what Fuge identified as "the well known book, Can A Young Man Trust His Bible?--;By Arthur Cook, Missionary to Iceland." (I later learned that the correct name was Gook, not Cook.) Fuge began by stating categorically that "[t]he whole account has been sifted carefully by M. de Parville, editor of the famous Journal des D├ębats, whose name and reputation as a scientist are a sufficient answer to those who call the story of Jonah into question from a scientific standpoint." What follows is a remarkable story, a whale of a tale that is worth reproducing here in full:

The whaling ship Star of the East, was in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, searching for whales, which were very scarce. One morning the lookout sighted a whale about three miles away on the starboard quarter. Two boats were manned. In a short time one of the boats was near enough to enable the harpooner to send a spear into the whale, which proved to be an exceedingly large one. With the shaft in his side, the animal sounded and then sped away, dragging the boat after him with terrible speed. He swam straight away about five miles, when he turned and came back almost directly towards the spot where he had been harpooned. The second boat waited for him, and when but a short distance from it he rose to the surface. As soon as his back showed above the surface of the water the harpooner in the second boat drove another spear into him. The pain apparently crazed the whale, for it threshed about fearfully, and it was feared that the boats would be swamped and the crews drowned. Finally the whale swam away, dragging the two boats after him. He went about three miles and sounded or sank, and his whereabouts could not be exactly told. The lines attached to the harpooners were slack, and the harpooners began slowly to draw them in and coil them in the tubes. As soon as they were tauten, the whale arose to the surface and beat about with its tail in the maddest fashion. The boats attempted to get beyond the reach of the animal, which was apparently in its death agonies, and one of them succeeded, but the other was less fortunate. The whale struck it with his nose and upset it. The men were thrown into the water, and before the crew of the other boat could pick them up one man drowned and James Bartley had disappeared. When the whale became quiet from exhaustion the waters were searched for Bartley, but [he] could not be found; and under the impression that he had been struck by the whale's tail and sunk to the bottom, the survivors rowed back to the ship. The whale was dead, and in a few hours the great body was lying by the ship's side, and the men ere busy with axes and spades cutting through the flesh to secure the fat. They worked all day and part of the night. They resumed operations the next forenoon, and were soon down to the stomach, which was to be hoisted to the deck. The workmen were startled while labouring to clear it and to fasten the chain about it to discover something doubled up in it that gave spasmodic signs of life. The vast pouch was hoisted to the deck and cut open, and inside was found the missing sailor, doubled up and unconscious. He was laid out on the deck and treated to a bath of sea-water, which soon revived him, but his mind was not clear, and he was placed in the captain's quarters, where he remained to [sic] weeks a raving lunatic. He was carefully treated by the captain and officers of the ship, and he finally began to get possession of his senses. At the end of the third week he had finally recovered from the shock, and resumed his duties.

At this point the account shifts from what might have been related by any member of the crew to what could only be told by Bartley himself. What follows is a gruesome description of what Bartley felt, heard, and thought as he slid down into the whale's stomach, where he discovered that he could still breath, but where he was overcome by the intense heat and the dread of his horrible, inevitable death.

During the brief sojourn in the whale's belly, Bartley's skin, where it was exposed to the action of the gastric juices, underwent a striking change. His face and hands were bleached to a deadly whiteness, and the skin was wrinkled giving the man the appearance of having been parboiled. Bartley affirms that he would probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, for he lost his senses through fright and not from lack of air. He says that he remembers the sensation of being lifted into the air by the nose of the whale and of dropping into the water. Then there was a frightful rushing sound, which he believed to be the beating of the water by the whale's tail, then he was encompassed by a fearful darkness, and he felt himself slipping along a smooth passage of some sort that seemed to move and carry him forward. This sensation lasted but an instant, then he felt that he had more room. He felt about him, and his hands came in contact with a yielding slimy substance that seemed to shrink from his touch. It finally dawned upon him that he had been swallowed by a whale, and he was overcome by horror at the situation. He could breath, but the heat was terrible. It was not of a scorching, stifling nature, but it seemed to draw out his vitality. He became very weak, and grew sick at the stomach. He knew that there was no hope of escape from his strange prison. Death stared him in the face, and he tried to look at it bravely but the awful quiet, the fearful darkness, the horrible knowledge of his environments, and the terrible heat finally overcame him, and he must have fainted, for the next he remembered was being in the captain's cabin. Bartley is not a man of a timid nature, but he says that it was many weeks before he could pass a night without having his sleep disturbed with harrowing dreams of angry whales and the horrors of his fearful prison. The skin on the face and hands of Bartley has never recovered its natural appearance. It is yellow and wrinkled, and looks like old parchment. The health of the man does not seem to have been affected by his terrible experience. He is in splendid spirits, and apparently fully enjoys all the blessings of life that come his way. The whaling captains say that they never remember a parallel case to this before. They say that it frequently happens that men are swallowed by whales who become infuriated by pain of the harpoon and attack the boats, but they have never known a man to go through the ordeal that Bartley did and come out alive.” -- http://www.asa3.org/aSA/PSCF/1991/PSCF12-91Davis.html

Some people claim that there is a contradiction in the Bible because the Tanak calls the creature that swallowed Jonah a "Great fish", while the Brit Chadasha calls it a "whale." This is not a contradiction. Matthew 12:40 says that the creature is a whale, but the original Greek from which it was translated calls it a "sea monster." The supposed contradiction is nothing more than perhaps a poorly chosen word by the English translators.

So which is it, a whale or a fish?

Nothing linguistically in the account in the Book of Jonah demands that the creature be a whale. It could be an extinct marine reptile or any one of the thousands of species of marine life that has gone extinct in the last few thousand years. It may have even been a fish. Some will say, "But fish don't get that big." If you believe that, you should visit more museums. - In the Ann Arbor Museum of Natural History there is a fossil skull of a fish named Dunkleosteus. The largest Dunkleosteus skull is about four feet high. I am not saying that this was for sure the fish that swallowed Jonah. I am merely saying that fish like this did exist.

Nineteenth century scholar E B Pusey (1886) cited examples of people found, dead in the stomachs of White Sharks. In one instance a stomach contained a reindeer without horns. In another was a horse.

A tiger shark was found near India with a man's skeleton and clothes in it. -- http://www.probe.org/docs/jonah.html

The following is a good summary of the facts that comes from “Answers in Genesis”:

“Jonah: A plausibility study
1.     Are there "great fish" large enough to swallow a man whole?
o Of course! Keep in mind that modern animal classification systems weren’t exactly in use at the time of Jonah. Any aquatic creature could be referred to as a "fish." And we know that there are whales (blue and sperm) and even sharks (great white and whale sharks) that can swallow a man whole. The sperm whale grows to a length of up to 70 feet. Its esophagus is approximately 50 cm (20") wide and "sperm whales don’t have to chew their food - so Jonah could have been swallowed whole." Two marine scientists from Sea World in San Diego hypothesize that it was a great white shark that probably swallowed Jonah.
2.     Could someone survive three days and three nights in a whale’s belly? o This is the difficult part of the question. There are fish species that surface from the sea and gulp down air into their lungs, like the lungfish for example. But there is no explanation for how air might have been transferred to the stomach. 3. What about the digestive juices?
o The Encarta Encyclopedia reports, "When whales swallow food, it travels through the esophagus to a multi-chambered stomach that resembles the stomachs of ruminant hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep and deer. In the first stomach chamber, a saclike extension of the esophagus, food is crushed. In the second chamber, digestive juices further break down food." If Jonah remained in this first chamber, he only needed to be worried about being crushed rather than digested! Sharks, however, have a much slower metabolism and a human body could last three days without deterioration.
3.     What about other stories?
o There are a number of stories that have been around for over 100 years about whales swallowing men whole. Perhaps the most famous is the story of James Bartley, a whaler on the vessel Star of the East, who reportedly was swallowed by a whale and survived. However, there are a number of questions as to the authenticity of this story, and it should not be used as a "proof" of any kind (just Google "James Bartley" and you’ll see what we mean).

The bottom line:

1. God needed to discipline a runaway prophet.
2. God did prepare a "great fish" aquatic creature.
3. God brought the runaway prophet and the "great fish" together for His glory and the salvation of a large city.” – http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v1/n1/great-fish

I tend to think, whether whale of fish, that it was a herbavoric type of sea creature, a plant eater. Scientifically, carnivorous fish has digestive enzymes in its stomach that works in the digestion of proteins. Jonah is a man, flesh and blood which is mostly made up of protein. So we can safely assume that the fish that swallowed Jonah was not of the meat eating sort. Recall the details of the Scriptures (2:5) it has weeds in its belly. Its digestive enzymes are different from those of carnivorous fish. So, what happened to Jonah is scientifically possible while at the same time due to the rarity of such an event, miraculously as well!

But think about it, being in the belly of a fish for three days you know that the fish’s digestive juices had to be working on Jonah’s body. You can’t expect Jonah to be hurled on shore, stand up, slick back his hair and brush off the sand and get started working on his sermon for Nineveh. No, most likely his skin was bleached by the gasses in the fish’s stomach and probably burned, he probably lost some hair, his clothes were probably half digested; he looked like he came off the set of “Night of the Living Dead”.

So imagine this splotchy, pasty, smelly stranger waltz into your city and say that God was going to wipe out the city in 40 days. That would get my attention if I was a Ninevites! “Boy if that is what God does to a guy whom he judges, we’d better repent!”

Now I have heard it preached all my life that Jonah preached a message of repentance. Not! There is not one line of repentance preached in the book of Jonah. Rather Jonah gave the people and ultimatum. “God’s getting ready to squash you guys like a bug! You guys are toast, have a nice life, see ya!”

Regardless if Jonah preached repentance or not the Ninevites got the message.

The Spiritual application has been made all too clear in the Brit Chadasha which portrays Jonah, at least what happened to him as a type of Messiah.


Matthew 12:38-41 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Luke 11:29-32 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Jonah The Contrary Missionary: Jonah 1


JONAH 1
Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

Jonah was the son of Amittai, which means “faithful” and Jonah was called to be a faithful, obedient prophet of peace to deliver a message of repentance which brings about peace, but Jonah bucks this all the way to the bitter end as we will see.

We had already mentioned in the introduction how his name means “dove,” and this reminds me of words of our Messiah to his old talmidim (disciples) which I think is applicable to Jonah’s was to conduct himself and his mission for the LORD.

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Jonah was also a resident of Gath Hepher, meaning, “The winepress of the well” which was border town in the territory of Zebulon located about three miles or five kilometers from Nazareth.

2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3 Growing up, Jonah was one of my favorite books of the Tanak. As a kid there’s just something “cool” about a guy getting swallowed up by a giant fish and lived to tell about it!

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

As I got older I liked the book of Jonah because it showed that even though the Jews are His Chosen People, He loves and has mercy upon the Goyim (Gentiles) too. After all, we all are His creations, and we all are made in His image.

Many people accuse God of being a blood thirsty tyrannical deity in the Torah, especially when the Israelites conquer Canaan and begin to wipe out the peoples of that land; Men, women, children and even animals. But what people don’t realize is that all the years prior, just as with the Noach’s flood, HE gives people PLENTY of room and time to truly repent. The Flood didn’t happen without warning; the destructions of the peoples in Joshua’s time also didn’t come without ample warning. God gave these people plenty of time to see the error of their ways and repent. And when a city or a nation is ripe for repentance, God will make one last ditch effort to give the peoples a change to repent before he sends His Judgment. This was God’s plan with Jonah.

The reluctant prophet visited Nineveh during the golden era of the Assyrian Empire (885-625 BCE). Assyria constantly harassed and warred with Israel and Judah doing horrific things comparable to the German Holocaust. Assyria eventually ended up taking the 10 tribes of Israel off into captivity and they have yet to return to this day. It is recorded that King Jehu of Israel had to pay tribute to Shalmaneser III (II Kings 17-18). So with this knowledge one can see why Jonah was so opposed to his call to Nineveh; the Assyrians, a people who were the enemies of Israel and have done very cruel things to them. So no wonder Jonah was a reluctant missionary, he was most likely very prejudice towards the Ninevites. It would be like telling a Jew of today to go and deliver a message of repentance to a Nazi or a Palestinian Terrorist! After all who really wants to see Hitler or Yaser Arafat forgiven!? Especially if you had a dear family murdered as a result of one of these guys!? It’s as if we as Jews are Anti-Goyite (Gentile) because they are Anti-Semite, it’s a vicious useless circle of bigotry and unforgiveness.

“You want me to tell them Divine Judgments coming and actually give them a chance to repent!? They dashed our babies against the walls, they raped our women, and they have taken our children as slaves! No way God, after what they have done to my people they deserve for You to rain hell, fire and brimstone on them and turn them all into crispy critters!”

The Key Word Study Bible says, “Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire at various times during its history, including the time of Jonah’s visit in the eighth century B.C. Within a few decades, Assyria became dominate in the Land of the Philistines, Israel was carried into exile (722 B.C.), and Judah was nearly conquered (701 B.C.). This domination proved to be at the peak of Assyrian power. By 612 B.C., the great city of Nineveh was in ruins, and by 609 B.C., the Assyrian Empire had vanished forever. Both Zephaniah (Zeph. 2:13) and Nahum (Nah. 3:5-7) prophesied the final destruction of Nineveh.”

So you can see why Jonah wanted to board a boat in Joppa which in the Brit Chadasha we find is the home town of Dorcas or Tabitha (Acts 9:6) and Simon the Tanner (Acts 10:32). Joppa is about 40 miles away from Jonah’s home town and 35 miles from Jerusalem, and sail in the opposite direction toward Tarshish, which is modern day Tartessus in southern Spain. Tarshish would have been 2,500 miles away from Israel, just about the farthest that one could go in the known world at that time.

Legends of the Bible says when Jonah arrived in Joppa that there was no ship and so to test Jonah G-d sent storm was so strong that it pushed the ship back to Joppa when it had already made a two day journey away from the port, which Jonah interpreted as God approving of his refusal to go to Nineveh. The ticket was said to be 4,000 gold denarii, and the Brit Chadasha refers to the denarius as a day's wage for a common laborer (Matthew 20:2; John 12:5).

The last half of verse three, “so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD,” tells us of the ancients belief that gods were territorial and if Jonah runs as far as he can in the opposite direction of where God wanted him to go, he would be escaping from the Presence of the LORD. We know and deep down Jonah that was a farce:

Psalm 139: 7-10 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Rashi says that Tarshish is a distant sea and Ibn Ezra says it was a city. The Targum says it is a generic term for the sea.

Anyway, regardless of what Tarshish was, what was Jonah thinking!?

Legends of the Bible compiled by Louis Ginzberg tells us that Jonah knew Nineveh would repent and he would be deemed a “false prophet” just like when he was sent by his teacher Elisha to proclaim the destruction of Jerusalem and they repented and the destruction never occurred and so the people ended up labeling him a false prophet. So to escape disgrace is another reason he choose to flee to Tarshish.

I think God choose Jonah to deliver this message of Judgment to bring repentance to the people of Nineveh just as much as it was to teach Jonah that God is not a bigot and neither should he.

Well, we all know what happened next, God sent a storm, the boat was about to sink, it was determined Jonah was the reason for the storm, Jonah tells the people to throw him overboard, the people pleads for God not hold them accountable for this, they toss him, the seas calm for the people, and Jonah gets the first three day submarine ride in history.

“Okay God, you got my attention! Okay God ‘Uncle!’ I’m sorry; I’ll do what You say now!”

4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

Eph. 2:2 tells us that satan is the prince and the power of the air, but ADONAI always trumps satan and is in complete and utter command of His creation, and it ALWAYS does His bidding.

Let this be a lesson to us, that because of Jonah’s disobedience, he put innocent bystanders in danger. Just as we do, whether we realize it or not, when we are disobedient to God. The wind is symbolic of the Ruach (Spirit) of God that nagged and convicted Jonah and would let him alone. It also tells us that when we disobey God we actually take two steps back to every step we think we are taking forward.

5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

Jonah hated the Assyrians so much he didn’t lose sleep over refusing to deliver the message of repentance to them, and if what Legends of the Bible said was true, he actually thought G-d now approved of his refusal to go to Nineveh.

There are two ways one can sleep during a storm; either their conscious is seared (I Tim. 2:4) which describes Jonah at this time, or if one totally trusts in God as Yeshua did when He slept during a storm on a sea (Mark 4:35-41).

The Full Life Study Bible says, “While the lives of the sailors were in great danger, God’s servant was sleeping. Today some within the church are asleep and unconcerned, even though all around them people are perishing spiritually in the storms of life.”

Despite the shame of sinning and attempting to run away from the will of God upon his life, God nonetheless used Jonah to witness to pagan heathens about ADONAI the One True God! The verse says everyman was crying out to his god(s), and Legends of the Bible says that there was a representative from all the 70 nations aboard the vessel. Jonah was the only one fast asleep and not calling out to his God and so the Captain of the ship wondered who Jonah’s God was. All the other gods have failed them; maybe Jonah served one that they hadn’t called upon yet. Jonah was worried about shame, he was about to face it here.

6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

They concluded the storm was so freakish and unexpected that someone must have ticked off their god; someone must be to blame for this misfortune. They most likely drew straws or cast stones and as divine fate would have it Jonah was pointed out to be the guilty one. This shows that God is in control of the roll of the die so to speak. Even in Israel they cast lots by the Umim and Thumim which the Priest carried as a means of casting lots, as a way for God to communicate something specific to Israel; this was how Achan was chosen as the one who sinned when Joshua asked God why his troops were defeated by Ai.

Now Jonah would be interrogated.

8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

Legends of the Bible have the Captain speaking on behalf of the 70 nations on the boat saying, “We have heard that the God of the Hebrews is the most powerful. Cry to Him for help. Perhaps He will perform such miracles for us as HE did in days of old for the Jews at the Red Sea.”

11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. 12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

Jonah admitted he was to blame. Jonah took responsibility. He saw it was his life for theirs; otherwise both would needlessly be taken. Here I think of Spock, off of Star Trek, his famous saying, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

The sailors saw this as crazy talk, suicide! They would not have Jonah’s blood on their hands.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

“The sailors were honorable people. Despite the lots and Jonah’s own admission, they tried to row to safety without throwing him overboard.” – Stones Tanak

14 Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.

Nevertheless it got to the point where those on the ship had no choice but to cast him overboard. They have exhausted all their options, they threw cargo overboard, prayed to their gods, rowed and things only got worse, so as crazy as it sounded they were ready to toss Jonah over, what could it hurt? But first they asked forgiveness for what they were about to do, for this was to them a certain death sentence. To them it’s as if they cut his head off.

Legends of the Bible records they first lowered him in the water up to his knees and the storm stopped and so they raised him back up into the boat and the storm was fiercer than ever. They then lowered him up to his navel, then his neck and brought him back up with the same results, finally, after praying for forgiveness of this man’s blood they threw him overboard into the sea and this time the storm ceased for good.

Jonah by his word from the LORD and the sailor’s obedience to that word the storm ceased, just as Yeshua spoke the word and the storm stopped.

Mark 4:35-41 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Who was this? None other than the one who spoke this world into creation (Gen. 1, John 1).

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

This testified to the truth of Jonah’s words and the power of His God, ADONAI; a testimony despite him currently running from what God had told him to do.

16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

They pledged to offer sacrifices to ADONAI when they arrived on land, says the Targum. Rashi says this meant that they vowed to convert to Judaism. Radak says that vowed to help the poor when they got back home.

17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Legends of the Bible tells us that this fish that was made to swallow Jonah was created at the foundation of the world for just such a purpose and this is what is meant by the word “prepared a great fish.” We know that God uses what is already in existence and in this realm to carry out his will, but the Hebrew word would almost make one think that God created this creature before time and put it in existence in this realm to swallow Jonah.


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Monday, August 27, 2018

JONAH THE CONTRARY MISSIONARY


JONAH THE CONTRARY MISSIONARY
INTRODUCTION:

Jonah, whose name means, “dove” is believed to be the author of the book which bears his name, written approximately 760 BCE. He is the same Jonah who prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam the II, king of Israel, from 793-753 BCE (II Kings 14:25). According to the Seder Olam he was the Prophet sent by Elisha to anoint Jehu (II Kings 9:1). Jonah along with Hosea is the only two Prophets of the Tanak who were born and raised in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and to have books by them in the Tanak. Jonah has been called the “Acts of the Old Testament” due to its allusions to the gospel story and the inclusion of Gentiles in the redemptive plan. Jonah is a fantastic true tale that has enthralled religious and non-religious, believer and non-believer alike. In Judaism this book is traditionally read on Yom Kippur and as we study this book we will see why. I pray you will thoroughly enjoy reading this commentary as much as I have enjoyed studying and writing it. All Scripture is taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted due to its status as Public Domain.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Jubilance of Joel: Joel Chapter 3


Joel 3 (King James Version)

Joel 3:1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

See, 3:1 goes right along with 2:28-32 and what we have been talking about.

2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

This chapter deals with Judah and Israel reunion, restoration and God’s judgment upon the nations who held His people captive and treated them so harshly. This verse also speaks of the Battle of Armageddon.

Rev. 16:16; 19:11-21 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon… And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

This valley has gone by many different names, Joel calls it Jehoshaphat, Hosea calls it Jezreel, other places it’s called Megiddo or the Valley of Decision. It is here where God will destroy the wicked and vindicate and restore His People.

3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

This speaks of the cruel and humiliating way God’s people have been treated by the nations of the world in which they were held captive in.

4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; 5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: 8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

The Stones Tanak says, “Israel has done you no harm, so you cannot claim that you are repaying them (of Me) for past wrongs.”

These people of Tyre and Zidon were two Phoenician cities, sort of Sodom and Gomorrah, close in relation and proximity. Israel once had good relations with Tyre, for Hiram, King of Tyre assisted King Solomon in supplying building materials for the Temple. However, shortly after Hiram’s dynasty ended, so did good relations between them and Israel.

Tyre ended up handing Israel over to the Edomites (Amos 1:9) and the Greeks (Joel 3:5-6) Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied of Tyre’s defeating (Jer. 27:1-11; Ezk. 26:3-21) Nebuchadnezzar then Alexander the Great, then Antiochus the III and seems to indicate that they will have their ultimate and final defeat at Armageddon.
Sidon resisted efforts of the tribe of Asher to drive them out and they turned on their sister Tyre when Alexander the Great came. They are condemned for spiritually oppressing Israel with Baal worship whereas Tyre physically oppressed Israel.
The enemies who are called out are mentioned before, the Phoenicians, but also the Philistines and Sabians (Arabs).

9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

ADONAI issues a challenge to the nations for one final and ultimate showdown. He basically tells them to gather every able bodied man, even ones considered weaklings, for they will need every one of them. HE also tells them their implements of war will not be enough, that they should modify their farm equipment into instruments of war (Isa. 2:4, Mic. 4:3).

The Bullies Bluff is called, this is where it ends, This is the “after school on the playground” if you will. The wicked and their wickedness is likened unto fat and heavy grain, ripe and ready to be harvested and the L-RD is more than happy to oblige (Mk. 4:29, Rev. 14:15, 18-20, Zech. 14:1-9). Even creation itself will turn against the wicked and aide God in the final fight; Just as they did for Moses and Joshua.

16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. 17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

Just as ADONAI created all we see and know with His Voice, His Word (Gen. 1, John 1), HE will destroy it with His voice, a roar and the only ones left standing will be the Jew and Gentile who has covenanted with the God of Israel. For it says that no stranger, meaning a stranger to the covenant, will not set foot on, nor pass through the Promised Land ever again (Amos 9:11- 15, Mic. 4:1-3, 5:2, Zeph. 3:13-20, Zech. 6:12, 13; 12:8-9).

18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

Ezk. 47:1-12 Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
Amos 9:13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
Zech. 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

Egypt and Edom, symbolic of Enemies foreign and kin will be judged for their actions against Judah.

20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

Rev. 21:1-22:5 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life…. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

By this ultimate and final judgment upon the nations and the restoration of Israel will more than make up for whatever may have been seen as Israel not being fully avenged for wrongs perpetuated on them.

The Stones Tanak words it differently and therefore interprets this a little different. The translation reads:

“Though I cleanse, their bloodshed I will not cleanse when HaShem dwells in Zion.”
Meaning, “Though I will cleanse the nations by forgiving many of their sins, I will not forgive them for the bloodshed they perpetuated against Israel. When “HaShem dwells in Zion,” i.e., at the End of Days, they will be punished. When HaShem (Messiah) returns he will punish the enemies of Israel.

Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 
Rev 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Rev 19:21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

CONCLUSION:

The Full Life Study Bible says, “The book of Joel ends with a promise that Jerusalem will someday be delivered from her enemies and god’s blessing will be showered upon His people. This blessing consists first of all in God Himself dwelling among His people and showing His love and care. With the destruction of the ungodly nations, God’s kingdom will prevail. Joel’s conclusion shows Israel that those who remain unrepentant will face God’s wrath, while those who repent and seek the Lord will experience His blessings and have a glorious future for all eternity.”
One may say, “How does that console those in the midst of plague or judgment?” It shows that the people thought more of their future progeny than they did themselves. To know that this plague of judgment wouldn’t be an end of them as a people and that there was the promise of a better and brighter tomorrow was comforting indeed. It also put that assurance of a better tomorrow on the shoulders of the present in that repentance was the key to endurance and restoration that secures the glorious future prophesied for ones descendants.

The thought of vengeance upon those who shed innocent blood causes us to rest assured that no death of a believer is meaningless or in vain.
Let us walk away remembering what looks like the end is really a new beginning.
In the service of the God of Israel, Shalom,
Yehudah ben Shomeyr (Kris Shoemaker)