Series: Simply Complex
Message: Complex Expectations
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for the understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Read: Jonah 1-4 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Everyone has at least one story they absolutely love. A story they remember from childhood—one that they eventually tell their own kids if only for the pleasure of revisiting it themselves. I can never pick just one. I wish I could simply say “Hansel and Gretel” or “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” or “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Considering Bible stories alone doesn’t help narrow it down much either. There are lots of great classics like Naaman and the little girl, or Baby Moses in the bullrushes, or Daniel in the lions den, or Joseph and the coat of many colors. The story of Jonah was not brought up a lot when I was a child—certainly not in its entirely. I have wondered about that. I have not heard a lot of sermons on Jonah as an adult either. There are not a lot of commentaries written on the book of Jonah. And while it is called a “book,” it is so short that it would normally be classified as a short story by modern standards. You can read it one sitting. It has one main character. It provides a snapshot of life. The plot is not deeply complex. It captures the imagination.
First question: If you were God, and you had one collection of just 66 books to help people understand who you are and how the world operates, giving them the best possible view of the past, present and future—would you choose Jonah? I hope by the end of this week’s study—and following the message on Saturday—that you will be feel more inclined to agree that this book is pretty spectacular on both the Duplo and Technic (simple and complex—see last week’s Daily Walk) levels.
Jonah lived during the eighth century (BC) when the Assyrian Empire was expanding its territory. Nineveh was one of the great cities of this Empire, which had a unique approach to the business of world domination. The Assyrians were infamous for their sieges, for torturing their opponents and piling them alive outside the cities as warnings to others. (The Romans later used a similar tactic, crucifying their opponents miles outside their cities.) Of course we would like to imagine that in modern times and in recent wars (WWI and WWII, Korea and Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and the ongoing war in Afghanistan), all countries have stopped using these kinds of methods to demonstrate their victory and establish dominance. But clearly, at that time—nearly 3,000 years ago—this kind of brutality was a grave issue. God wanted them to stop operating this way. He wanted them to repent of their ways and become a different people.
Recalibrate: If you had to write a short story (300 words) to explain the world, what would it be about?
Respond: Pray for an open heart.
Research: How does the world oppress people today?