I’m going to the beach, the beach on the Mediterranean Sea! I can barely wrap my head around actually traveling to Israel and Jordan! I am blessed! Thank You, Lord. I asked for help, guidance, deliverance, and You led me to the Holy Lands … the lands where Your people received Your help, guidance, and deliverance. May I absorb this Holy Land’s history, knowledge, truth, faith, and hope.
In looking at the picture of Tel Aviv below I was struck by the beauty of the beach, and the clear blue-green ocean. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of Tel Aviv being on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. I will see the beach this year, as well as the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea!
4,000-year-old Jaffa, [Joppa], below, south of Tel Aviv, is an ancient port city. Jaffa, [Joppa], was a port mentioned often in the Bible. These are pictures of present day Jaffa.
Jaffa, [Joppa], was the scene of many events of the Bible. I want to learn more about the places I will travel. I am revisiting, and in some cases studying for the first time some of these passages. They take on new meaning for me when I consider the actual land, city, port, mountain, river, where these events took place.
Jonah was a Hebrew prophet from Gath Hepher.
He tried to run away from the Lord.
Jonah 1 Easy-to-Read Version
God Calls and Jonah Runs
The Lord spoke to Jonah son of Amittai: “Nineveh is a big city. I have heard about the many evil things the people are doing there. So go there and tell them to stop doing such evil things.”
But Jonah tried to run away from the Lord. He went to Jaffa, [Joppa], and found a boat that was going to the faraway city of Tarshish. Jonah paid money for the trip and went on the boat. He wanted to travel with the people on this boat to Tarshish and run away from the Lord.
The Great Storm
But the Lord brought a great storm on the sea. The wind made the sea very rough. The storm was very strong, and the boat was ready to break apart. The men wanted to make the boat lighter to stop it from sinking, so they began throwing the cargo into the sea. The sailors were very afraid. Each man began praying to his god.
Jonah had gone down into the boat to lie down, and he went to sleep. The captain of the boat saw Jonah and said, “Wake up! Why are you sleeping? Pray to your god! Maybe your god will hear your prayer and save us!”
What Caused This Storm?
Then the men said to each other, “We should throw lots to find out why this is happening to us.”
So the men threw lots. The lots showed that the troubles came to them because of Jonah. Then the men said to Jonah, “It is your fault that this terrible thing is happening to us. Tell us, what have you done? What is your job? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”
Jonah said to them, “I am a Hebrew. I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the land and the sea.”
Jonah told the men he was running away from the Lord. The men became very afraid when they learned this. They asked Jonah, “What terrible thing did you do against your God?”
The wind and the waves of the sea were becoming stronger and stronger. So the men said to Jonah, “What should we do to save ourselves? What should we do to you to make the sea calm?”
Jonah said to the men, “I know I did wrong—that is why the storm came on the sea. So throw me into the sea, and the sea will become calm.”
Instead, the men tried to row the ship back to the shore, but they couldn’t do it. The wind and the waves of the sea were too strong—and they were becoming stronger and stronger.
So the men cried to the Lord, “Lord, please don’t say we are guilty of killing an innocent man. Please don’t make us die for killing him. We know you are the Lord, and you will do whatever you want.”
So the men threw Jonah into the sea. The storm stopped, and the sea became calm. When the men saw this, they began to fear and respect the Lord. They offered a sacrifice and made special promises to the Lord.
When Jonah fell into the sea, the Lord chose a very big fish to swallow Jonah. He was in the stomach of the fish for three days and three nights.
Jonah 2 Easy-to-Read Version
While Jonah was in the stomach of the fish, he prayed to the Lord his God. He said,
“I was in very bad trouble.
I called to the Lord for help,
and He answered me.
I was deep in the grave.
I cried to You,
and You heard my voice.
“You threw me into the sea.
Your powerful waves splashed over me.
I went down, down into the deep sea.
The water was all around me.
Then I thought, ‘Now I must go where You cannot see me,’
but I continued looking to Your Holy Temple for help.
“The seawater closed over me.
The water covered my mouth,
and I could not breathe.
I went down, down into the deep sea.
Seaweed wrapped around my head.
I was at the bottom of the sea,
the place where the mountains begin.
I thought I was locked in this prison forever,
but the Lord my God took me out of my grave.
God, You gave me life again!
“My soul gave up all hope,
but then I remembered the Lord.
I prayed to You,
and You heard my prayers in Your Holy Temple.
“Some people worship useless idols,
but those statues never help them.
I will give sacrifices to You,
and I will praise and thank You.
I will make special promises to You,
and I will do what I promise.”
Salvation only comes from the Lord!
Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out of its stomach onto the dry land.
This is a wonderful story of forgiveness and mercy. God, Your Amazing Grace saved an entire city and the life of one of Your reluctant prophets, Jonah.
God, You didn’t send Jonah to obliterate the city of Nineveh. No! You sent Jonah to tell the people there to stop doing evil things. You had mercy on the people of Nineveh; You wanted them to be convicted of their sins; to have them acknowledge the wrongs, the evil, they had committed and to repent, ask for forgiveness, and be reconciled to You, Lord, The God of All Mercy and Compassion.
But Jonah wanted no part of saving Nineveh. Jonah did not want to save the Assyrians, who were a people bent on conquering the world; they were a threat to Israel. Jonah knew You loved all people, even sinners, even enemies of Jonah and Israel. So Jonah ran.
In running Jonah put others in peril, the sailors in the ship. These men realized Jonah was running from his God. They wanted no part of the angry storm meant to capsize their ship and take them down into a briny death along with Jonah.
The sailors were put in a position of becoming partners in Jonah’s rebellion, or casting him off the boat and into the sea. Either way, the sailors would be going against You, Lord. When they threw Jonah off the boat the winds and the waves calmed. They realized who You were and became believers in Your Power and Might. You showed mercy to the sailors, saved them from the storm, and by Your Grace opened their eyes to Your love and compassion.
You loved Jonah, and saved him from drowning; You sent a great fish to swallow Jonah and hold him captive within his belly for three days. I am sure that gave Jonah quite a lot to think about!
Lord, You show Your love for all of mankind each and every moment. Sometimes, though, with some people, it takes dramatic experiences to bring the point home.
Saving an enemy from destruction would have to be a hard thing to be asked to do. We all have times when the hardest thing is too hard, and it’s easier to run away, deny responsibility, refuse to help.
Thank You, Lord, for Jonah’s life experience. Thank You for blessing me with love, compassion, grace, and mercy, I absolutely don’t deserve. Help me to remember You want me to be the best person I can be; You’ll send help; You’ll seek me and find me. You are my Heavenly Father, and I am Your precious child. Hallelujah, Amen !
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