Running From the Character of God & Offended By His Nature

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Obadiah which he saw concerning Edom, as well as the Old Testament prophetic book of Jonah which describes a prophet who was instructed of the LORD to journey unto Nineveh—the capital city of the Assyrian Empire—and prophesy judgment upon it.

WE HAVE HEARD A RUMOR FROM THE LORD! AN AMBASSADOR IS SENT AMONG THE HEATHEN! ARISE YE, AND LET US RISE UP AGAINST HER IN BATTLE! BEHOLD, I HAVE MADE THEE SMALL AMONG THE HEATHEN! THOU ART GREATLY DESPISED! THE PRIDE OF THINE HEART HATH DECEIVED THEE! THOU THAT DWELLEST IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK, WHOSE HABITATION IS HIGH; THAT SAITH IN HIS HEART, WHO SHALL BRING ME DOWN TO THE GROUND? THOUGH THOU EXALT THYSELF AS THE EAGLE, AND THOUGH THOU SET THY NEST AMONG THE STARS, THENCE WILL I BRING THEE DOWN, SAITH THE LORD!

HOW ARE THE THINGS OF ESAU SEARCHED OUT! HOW ARE HIS HIDDEN THINGS SOUGHT UP! THE MEN THAT WERE AT PEACE WITH THEE HAVE DECEIVED THEE, AND PREVAILED AGAINST THEE! SHALL THEY THAT EAT THY BREAD HAVE LAID A WOUND UNDER THEE: THERE IS NONE UNDERSTANDING IN HIM! SHALL I NOTE IN THAT DAY, SAITH THE LORD, EVEN DESTROY THE WISE MEN OUT OF EDOM, AND UNDERSTANDING OUT OF THE MOUNT OF ESAU? AND THY MIGHTY MEN, O TEMAN, SHALL BE DISMAYED!

FOR THY VIOLENCE AGAINST THY BROTHER JACOB SHAME SHALL COVER THEE, AND THOU SHALT BE CUT OFF FOR EVER! IN THE DAY THAT THOU STOODEST ON THE OTHER SIDE, IN THE DAY THAT THE STRANGERS CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE HIS FORCES, AND FOREIGNERS ENTERED INTO HIS GATES, AND CAST LOTS UPON JERUSALEM! EVEN THOU WAST AS ONE OF THEM! BUT THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE LOOKED ON THE DAY OF THY BROTHER IN THE DAY THAT HE BECAME A STRANGER; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE REJOICED OVER THE CHILDREN OF JUDAH IN THE DAY OF THEIR DESTRUCTION; NEITHER SHOULDES THOU HAVE SPOKEN PROUDLY IN THE DAY OF HIS DISTRESS!

THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE ENTERED INTO THE GATE OF MY PEOPLE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY: YEA, THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE LOOKED ON THEIR AFFLICTION IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY! NOR HAVE LAID HANDS ON THEIR SUBSTANCE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY! NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE STOOD IN THE CROSS WAY, TO CUT OFF THOSE OF HIS THAT DID ESCAPE; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE DELIVERED UP THOSE OF HIS THAT DID REMAIN IN THE DAY OF DISTRESS!

FOR AS YE HAVE DRUNK UPON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN, SO SHALL ALL THE HEATHEN DRINK CONTINUALLY, YEA, THEY SHALL DRINK, AND THEY SHALL SWALLOW DOWN, AND THEY SHALL BE AS THOUGH THEY HAD NOT BEEN!

BUT UPON MOUNT ZION SHALL BE DELIVERANCE, AND THERE SHALL BE HOLINESS; AND THE HOUES OF JACOB SHALL POSSESS THEIR POSSESSIONS! AND THE HOUES OF JACOB SHALL BE A FIRE, AND THE HOUES OF JOSEPH A FLAME, AND THE HOUES OF ESAU FOR STUBBLE, AND THEY SHALL KINDLE IN THEM, AND DEVOUR THEM; AND THERE SHALL NOT BE ANY REMAINING OF THE HOUES OF ESAU; FOR THE LORD HATH SPOKEN IT!

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is com up before . But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went 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”

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! 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! 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!

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! I AM AN HEBREW; AND I FEAR THE LORD, THE GOD OF HEAVEN, WHICH HATH MADE THE SEA AND IN THE DRY LAND! WHY HAST THOU DONE THIS? FOR THE MEN KNEW THAT HE FLED FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, BECAUSE HE HAD TOLD THEM! WHAT SHALL WE DO UNTO THEE, THAT THE SEA MAY BE CALM UNTO US? FOR THE SEA WROUGHT, AND WAS TEMPESTUOUS! 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!

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! SO THEY TOOK UP JONAH, AND CAST HIM FORTH INTO THE SEA: AND THE SEA CEASED FROM HER RAGING! THEN THE MEN FEARED THE LORD EXCEEDINGLY, AND OFFERED A SACRIFICE UNTO THE LORD, AND MADE VOWS!

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! THEN JONAH PRAYED UNTO THE LORD HIS GOD OUT OF THE FISH’S BELLY!

”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. 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. Then said I, I am cast out of thy sight; Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depths clothed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountain; the earth was with her bars was about me for ever: yet thou hast brought up my life from corruption, o Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple!”

AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO THE FISH, AND IT VOMITED OUT JONAH UPON THE DRY LAND!

AND THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO JONAH THE SECOND TIME, SAYING, ARISE, GO UNTO NINEVETH, THAT GREAT CITY, AND PREACH UNTO IT THE PREACHING THAT I BID THEE! SO JONAH AROSE, AND WENT UNTO NINEVETH, ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF THE LORD! NINEVEH WAS AN EXCEEDING GREAT CITY OF THREE DAYS’ JOURNEY! AND JONATH BEGAN TO ENTER INTO THE CITY A DAY’S JOURNEY, AND HE CRIED, AND SAID, YET FORTY DAYS, AND NINEVEH SHALL BE OVERTHROWN!

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! 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! 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 NOT FLOCK, TASTE ANY THING: LET THEM NOT FEED, NOR DRINK WATER: BUT LET MAN AND BEAST BE COVERED WITH SACKCLOTH, AND CRY MIGHTILY UNTO GOD: YEA, LET THEM TURN EVERY MAN FROM HIS EVIL WAY, AND FROM THE VIOLENCE THAT IS IN THEIR HANDS!

AND 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!

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 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. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live”

SHOULD I NOT SPARE NINEVEH, THAT GREAT CITY, WHEREIN ARE MORE THAN SIX SCORE THOUSAND PERSONS THAT CANNOT DISCERN BETWEEN THEIR RIGHT HAND AND THEIR LEFT HAND; AND ALSO MUCH CATTLE?

RUNNING FROM THE CHARACTER OF GOD! RUNNING FROM THE MERCY OF THE LORD! RUNNING FROM THE NATURE OF GOD! KNOWING THE NATURE OF GOD AND YET FLEEING FROM THE MANIFESTATION OF IT! GOD I KNEW WHO YOU WERE, AND YET I RAN FROM IT! GOD I KNEW WHO YOU WERE AND YET I RAN FROM THE MANIFESTATION OF IT! [THE DIRECT LINK BETWEEN THE FIRST AND FOURTH CHAPTER OF THE PROPHETIC BOOK OF JONAH]. [IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE OFFENDED WITH THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF THE LIVING GOD?] 

While today’s reading begins with the prophetic book of Obadiah and then transitions to the prophetic book of Jonah, I feel compelled to start with the prophetic book of Jonah and then work my way back to what is found in the book of Obadiah. I have to admit that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wasn’t familiar with the prophetic book of Jonah and the narrative surrounding this son of Amittai.

I would dare say that there are countless students and scholars of Scripture alike who are familiar with the narrative of Jonah and how Jonah was that prophet who dared run in the opposite direction of that which the LORD his God had called him to do. You cannot read the prophetic book of Jonah and not encounter the tremendous reality that it is a book that is centered around one man’s hearing the voice of the LORD his God and knowing what the LORD had called him to do, and yet doing everything he could to not only run and flee from the presence of the LORD, but also to run away from that which the LORD had called him to.

If you take the time to read the events which are found in the first and opening chapter you will find that after Jonah received the call to rise from the land of Israel and journey unto Nineveh—that great capital city which was situated in the midst of the Assyrian Empire—he immediately decided and determined within himself to flee from the presence of the LORD. In fact, in the first three verses of this prophetic book we find the foundation which stands at the very heart of this narrative—namely, that which Jonah had been called to do, and his attempt to resist it by journeying in the opposite direction. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening three verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book:

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Jppa; 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” (Jonah 1:1-3).

FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS IS COME UP BEFORE ME! Before I delve into the narrative surrounding Jonah’s flight from the presence of the LORD—a reality which is mentioned three times within this opening chapter of this prophetic book—I feel it necessary and imperative to call and draw your attention to that which the word of the LORD had called and instructed Jonah to do.

As you read the words which are found in these opening verses you will find that the word of the LORD instructed and called Jonah to go unto Nineveh, that great city, and to cry against it because their wickedness is come up before Him. I am convinced that we dare not miss and lose sight of that which the living and eternal God was calling Jonah to do during his generation—particularly and especially when you consider the declaration that the LORD said the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before Him. It would be very easy to quickly glance over these words, and the fact that when the LORD called Jonah to go unto Nineveh and preach against it, Jonah sought to flee from His presence, however, it is actually something worth noting and pointing out that when the LORD spoke unto Jonah concerning Nineveh he declared unto him that their wickedness had come up before him.

Pause for a moment and consider this reality, for it was true the wickedness of Nineveh with its inhabitants had come up before and in the presence of the LORD, however, the LORD would not allow that wickedness to continue without sending them a warning. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about the fact that this wasn’t merely a warning that was sent to the people of God and unto the Hebrews, but this was a warning that was sent unto heathens and Gentiles. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter the awesome truth that the LORD was very much aware of the wickedness of Nineveh, for their wickedness—perhaps their idolatry, their immorality, their iniquity, the fornication, their adultery, and the like—had come up before Him. It is this concept of the wickedness of men coming up before and unto the LORD that is worth mentioning and noting, for there would be at least two other instances in Scripture when the wickedness of men rose up before the LORD.

If you study the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the narratives of the days of Lot, as well as the days of Noah—both of which were used by the Lord Jesus Christ to describe the Last Days leading up to His second coming and return.

If you turn and direct your attention to the sixth, seventh and eighteenth chapters of the book of Genesis you will find the days of Noah and Lot being given great emphasis and focus by Moses the servant of the LORD when he wrote of two specific times during the history of man when the wickedness of man would come up before the LORD. You cannot read the narratives of the days of Noah and the days of Lot and not encounter the awesome truth and reality that the wickedness of men went up before and in the sight of the LORD.

As you read the words found within these chapters you will quickly come face to face with the awesome reality that the LORD was very much aware of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth during the days of Noah, and not only instructed Noah to build an ark, but also through Noah would preach righteousness unto that generation concerning their wickedness. It would be during the days of Noah the wickedness of men upon the earth would be so evil, so vile, and so filthy that the LORD would determine and purpose to wipe out and destroy all flesh from the face of the earth—save those eight souls which were within the ark as it would rest upon the waters.

The LORD would speak unto Noah and declare that He would send such a rain upon the face of the earth that He would cause the whole earth to be flooded, and all the fountains of the deep to be broken up so the inhabitants of the earth would be destroyed and consumed in the flood of His wrath and fury. THE FLOOD OF WRATH! THE FLOOD OF FURY! THE FLOOD OF JUDGMENT!

You cannot read the narrative surrounding Noah and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality that it would be during the days of Noah when the wickedness of man upon the earth was so gross, so vile, and so filthy that it would not only come up before the LORD, but the LORD would also purpose to destroy everything that lived and moved upon the face of the earth save that which was upon the ark.

During the days of Lot there would be the cities of the plain—mainly and namely the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah—whose wickedness would rise up before and in the sight of the living God. Scripture makes it very clear that the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah also rose up before and in the sight of the LORD, and how the LORD spoke unto Abraham how He would destroy these cities of the plain. With all of this being said, consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning the days of Lot and Noah:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

AND GOD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT IN THE EARTH, AND THAT EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS EVIL ONLY CONTINUALLY.

And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Bot Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:1-8).

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

THE EARTH ALSO WAS CORRUPT BEFORE GOD, AND THE EARTH WAS FILLED WITH VIOLENCE. AND GOD LOOKED UPON THE EARTH, AND, BEHOLD, IT WAS CORRUPT; FOR ALL FLESH HAD CORRUPTED HIS WAY UPON THE EARTH.

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:10-13).

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevents, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of the fowls also of the air be sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (Genesis 7:1-5).

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.

AND THE LORD SAID, BECAUSE THE CRY OF SODOM AND GOMRRAH IS GREAT, AND BECAUSE THEIR SIN IS VERY GRIEVOUS; I WILL GO DOWN NOW, AND SEE WHETHER THEY HAVE DONE ALTOGETHER ACCORDING TO THE CRY OF IT, WHICH IS COME UNTO ME; AND IF NOT, I WILL KNOW.

And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD” (Genesis 18:16-22).

It’s interesting and worth noting the words which are found within these passages of Scriptures, as well as during the days of Noah and Lot, for they were days filled with great violence upon the face of the earth, and days which were filled with great iniquity and transgression before the LORD. You cannot read these words and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that during the days of Noah and Lot evil and wickedness was upon the earth, as during the days of Noah evil would fill the earth, and during the days of Lot evil and wickedness would be found within two specific cities of the plain of Jordan.

In both of these instances we find the LORD being very much aware of the wickedness that was present upon the earth, for the wickedness—and not only the wickedness, but also the cry of the wickedness—would go up unto the LORD. During the days of Noah, as well as during the days of Lot we find men committing gross immorality and wickedness before and in the sight of the living God, and that wickedness being so grievous in the sight of the LORD.

It would be during the days of Noah and Lot such wickedness would be present and prevalent upon the face of the earth, and it would be because of this wickedness upon the face of the earth the LORD would bring judgment against and upon it. In the days of Noah the LORD would bring judgment against and upon the whole earth with all the inhabitants which lived and moved upon it—everything which had the breath of life in their nostrils—that He might cleanse and purge the earth of the wickedness that would consume and cover it.

In the days of Lot we find these two cities of the plain being guilty of such great wickedness in the sight of the LORD, and the cry of that wickedness being so great in the sight of the LORD that the LORD would not only come down to see and behold it, but also to bring judgment upon it. As surely and as much as the Old Testament book of Genesis is a book about beginnings—the beginning of man upon the face of the earth, the beginning of generations, the beginning of Abraham, the beginning of Isaac, the beginning of Jacob whose name would be Israel, and even the beginning of the house of Israel which would become a mighty nation and people, it would also contain two distinct events that would be referenced in the New Testament by both Jesus, as well as the New Testament authors.

We cannot, we must not, we dare not miss what is found within the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the earth during the days of Noah, for the wickedness of men during both times would be so great upon the face of the earth that it would actually come up before and in the sight of the LORD. The wickedness of man upon the earth was so grievous and so great upon the face of the earth that the LORD would raise up Noah in his generation as a witness and testimony unto those who dwelt upon the earth concerning judgment which was to come, and the wickedness of man was so great within the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that the LORD would purpose to destroy it with fire and brimstone which He would rain down upon the cities until they were consumed and utterly destroyed.

Of course we know that when the LORD revealed unto Abraham what He was going to do in the midst of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham besought the LORD through intercession concerning His destroying the righteous with the wicked. As a direct result of Abraham’s intercession we find him entreating the LORD whether or not He would spare the cities of the plain if there was a certain amount of righteous men and women living in the city. Abraham would initially begin with fifty righteous in the city, and would ultimately get down to ten righteous within the city, and would entreat the LORD to spare these cities if there were found ten righteous in the midst of them.

I have written before how assuming Lot and his wife were righteous, assuming their two daughters were righteous, and assuming his two sons in laws were righteous, that would still leave four remaining within the land. If those six individuals were righteous in the sight of the living God, then there would still be a deficit of four individuals who might very well have helped spare the cities of the plain.

Of course we know from Scripture that the LORD would not find ten righteous souls in the midst of these cities, and of all the inhabitants which were present therein—only Lot, his wife, and their two daughters were brought forth from the midst of the city and spared the judgment that would come upon them. We know that Lot and his two daughters would escape the judgment of the LORD and would make it unto a place of shelter and rest, however, Lot’s wife would turn back to gaze upon the destruction that was being rained upon the cities of the plain, and would become a pillar of salt.

Now you might be wondering why I would choose to include these two passages of Scripture and write concerning the days of Lot and Noah when writing and speaking about the days of Jonah and the great city of Nineveh. The answer actually lies in the declaration of the LORD that the wickedness of this great city had come up before Him.

In the days of Lot the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah would come up before and in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD would purpose to destroy these cities with fire and brimstone which He would rain down upon them from heaven.

In the days of Noah the wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth would come up before and in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD would purpose to destroy every living thing that had the breath of the living God in its nostrils.

The LORD would bring upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah such a great judgment that the cities together with all the inhabitants therein would be completely and utterly overthrown and consumed in the judgment of the LORD.

The LORD would bring upon the face of the whole earth during the days of Noah such a great judgment that would completely cover the face of the whole earth, and would consume every living soul that moved upon the face of the earth, and every thing in whose nostrils was the breath of life.

It’s worth noting and pointing out that in both the days of Lot, as well as the days of Noah—as surely as the LORD would indeed bring judgment upon the face of the earth—the LORD would also spare certain souls from the judgment which He would release and unleash within the earth.

During the days of Noah the LORD would spare Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives (in addition to every living thing which was upon the ark Noah had built), and during the days of Lot the LORD would initially spare and save Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, however, Lot’s wife would turn back to gaze upon the destruction and judgment of the LORD, and as a result would become a pillar of salt in the midst of the earth.

While it was true that the days of Lot and Noah were days of judgment and wrath of and from the LORD, they would also be days of mercy and grace from the LORD, as the LORD would save eight souls from the flood which would cover the face of the earth, and as the LORD would save three souls from the judgment which would consume Sodom and Gomorrah.

What makes the days of Jonah so incredibly intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD. In the opening verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find the LORD declare unto Jonah that the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD, and as a result of that wickedness, the LORD instructed Jonah to arise, to go unto that great city, and to cry against it. Please don’t miss the awesome significance and importance of what is found within these opening verses, for despite the fact that the wickedness of the city of Nineveh would come up before the LORD, the LORD would not immediately unleash judgment and destruction upon it.

Perhaps one of the fundamental differences between the days of Lot, the days of Noah, and the days of Jonah is that during the days of Jonah the LORD would actually raise up and send one of His own unto that great city to cry out against it because of the wickedness that had gone up before Him.

Perhaps the greatest question is what we are causing to rise up before the LORD within the earth and from our lives—whether it is the sweet and fragrant aroma of a sacrifice and offering made by fire, or whether it is wickedness which was committed in the sight and presence of the LORD.

Scripture makes it very clear that the wickedness of man can indeed and can in fact go up before the LORD in the midst of the earth, and that wickedness can rise up before and in the sight of the LORD much like incense can rise up before Him. As surely and as certainly as the incense of the people of God, and even the aroma of sacrifices upon the altar can rise up before the living God, so also can wickedness rise up before the living and eternal God.

The wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth during the days of Noah would come up before the LORD, and the LORD would destroy the earth with a flood.

The wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah would come up before the LORD during the days of Lot, and the LORD would destroy the cities together with the inhabitants therein with fire and brimstone which He would cause to rain and come down upon them.

During the days of Jonah, however—despite the fact that the wickedness of the inhabitants of Nineveh that great city had come up before the LORD—the LORD would send a prophet among them in their midst to cry out because of the wickedness.

THE WARNING BEFORE JUDGMENT!

It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand what is taking place in the prophetic book of Jonah, for what we find within the opening chapter is the wickedness of this great capital city of Nineveh rising up before and unto the LORD, and as a direct result of that iniquity and wickedness the LORD would send a prophet. The LORD would send one of His own from the land of Israel unto this great city to warn them of the coming judgment and wrath of the LORD, and to cry out against the wickedness of the LORD.

What makes the opening chapter of this prophetic book so intriguing and captivating is when you think about consider the fact that although Jonah had been called of the LORD to go unto this great city to cry out against it because of their great wickedness, he sought to flee from the presence of the LORD—and even believed that He would be able to flee from His presence.

As you read the words found in the opening chapter of this prophetic book you will find that in the third verse “Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD,” as well as Jonah paying the fare thereof and going down into the boat “ to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah was given a great and powerful command and commission of the LORD to journey unto this great city of Nineveh that he might cry out against the wickedness that was found within it, and instead of [initially] fulfilling the command and word of the LORD, he would attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD.

There would be three distinct times within this chapter we find mentioned how Jonah’s paying the fair to board a ship going down unto Tarshish was so he could somehow flee from the presence of the LORD. It’s actually interesting that Jonah actually believed he could somehow flee from the presence of the LORD—particularly and especially considering the words which David the psalmist and king of Israel wrote which are recorded for us in the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms.

I am convinced that any discussion concerning Jonah the son of Amittai must have at the very heart of it the words of David, for it was David who spoke of man’s attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD, and how such an attempt was both futile and fleeting. Consider if you will the following words found in this particular chapter beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 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. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” (Psalm 139:1-12).

These words which the psalmist David wrote and penned in what is the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the poetic book of the Psalms must be carefully considered and understood when considering the narrative of Jonah the son of Amittai, for Jonah actually thought and believed that he could indeed flee from the presence of the LORD.

Jonah received a very specific command and word from the LORD—namely, that he go unto Nineveh that great city in Assyria—and cry out against it because of the wickedness that had come up before the LORD. Initially, however, Jonah sought to flee from the presence of the LORD, and sought to run from his calling and that which he had been ordained to do. Jonah heard the word of the LORD, and Jonah knew what the LORD had called him to do, and yet he deliberately and intentionally chose to run in the opposite direction that he might not fulfill that which the LORD had called him to do.

What makes the narrative of Joseph all the more intriguing and all the more astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that he was running and fleeing from more than just the presence of the LORD. There is not a doubt in my mind that the first and fourth chapters of this prophetic book are intrinsically linked and connected to each other, as it is in the fourth chapter we encounter the awesome truth and reality that Jonah not only attempted to run from the presence of the LORD, but also from the very character and nature of God. In all the years and all the times I have read this prophetic book of Jonah I have always viewed it through the lens of Jonah fleeing from the presence of the LORD, and Jonah running from the call that was upon his life, and yet the fourth chapter actually reveals something even more captivating and intriguing when you think about and consider it.

If you turn and direct your attention to the words found in the fourth and final chapter of this prophetic book you will find Jonah and the LORD having a dialogue with each other as after Jonah had preached unto the city of Nineveh and cried out against the wickedness thereof the entire city repented before the LORD in sackcloth, in dust and ashes. As you come to and approach the fourth chapter you will find Jonah feeling as though it was enough for him and what he have done, and the only thing that was left for him was to die. In the fourth and final chapter of this prophetic book we find that after he had preached to the capital city of Nineveh—a city which the LORD referred to as “that great city”—everyone from the king down to the lowest servant in the midst of the city repented in sackcloth, in dust and ashes, and how the LORD repented Him of the great evil He would bring upon it.

It wasn’t necessarily the response of the Ninevites that so offended Jonah and caused him grief, but it was the response of the LORD—a response that was based on His nature and character that so grieved him. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the fourth chapter beginning to read with and from the first verse:

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 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. THEREFORE NOW, O LORD, TAKE, I BESEECH THEE, MY LIFE FROM ME; FOR IT IS BETTER FOR ME TO DIE THAN TO LIVE. THEN SAID THE LORD, DOEST THOU WELL TO BE ANGRY? 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” (Jonah 4:1-5).

In all the times I have read the prophetic book of Jonah I have never looked at it through the lens that although the first and opening chapter describes how Jonah fled from the presence of the LORD, the fourth chapter reveals something even greater than simply fleeing from the presence of the LORD. As you read the words which are found in the final chapter of this prophetic book you will find that not only did Jonah become increasingly angry with the LORD as a direct result of His response to the actions of the Ninevites, but he would also pray unto the LORD concerning His very nature and character.

Upon reading the words found in the opening verses of the fourth chapter you will find Jonah speaking directly unto the LORD and reminding Him of why he sought to flee from His presence. In the first and opening chapter we merely find it mentioned how Jonah sought to flee from the presence of the LORD, however, it’s not until the fourth chapter we actually find out why Jonah sought to flee from His presence. It’s worth noting and pointing out that Jonah wasn’t necessarily seeking to run from that which the LORD had called him to do, and he wasn’t fleeing because he didn’t want to journey unto this great city. Nowhere in this prophetic book will you find Jonah expressing any argument with the LORD for instructing him to go unto this great city and preach against it, nor even the LORD calling him from his country that he might cry out against the wickedness of heathen and Gentiles.

Jonah’s argument wasn’t with the calling of God, but rather with the character of God. ARUGING AGAINST CHARACTER OVER CALLING! WHEN YOUR ARGUMENT IS NOT WITH YOUR CALLING BUT WITH THE CHARACTER OF GOD HIMSELF! The more you read the words found in the prophetic book of Jonah the more you will encounter the awesome reality that Jonah’s argument wasn’t with that which the LORD had called him to do, nor even with the journey the LORD had instructed him to take, but rather with the very character of the living God. Jonah had preached unto the great city of Nineveh, and the entire city experienced a revival of repentance as everyone from the king to the lowest servant repented in dust and sackcloth with fasting before the LORD, and it was the LORD’s response to that repentance that so angered Jonah.

Jonah saw how the LORD had repented Himself of the great evil He had purposed against the city, and in the opening verse of the fourth chapter we find Jonah sitting outside the city on the east side that he might watch and see what might become of this great city that was so consumed with wickedness.

It would be very easy to read the prophetic book of Jonah and think about how Jonah attempted to run from the call(ing) that was upon his life to go unto the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of its wickedness, however, the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. The more you read this prophetic book, and the more you truly take the time to understand the words which are found and contained within it, the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome reality that Jonah did in fact attempt to run and flee from the presence of the LORD, however, there was an underlying reason behind his attempted flight from the presence of the LORD.

In fact, when Jonah was speaking with God after the entire city had repented in sackcloth, dust and ashes with fasting before the LORD, and after the LORD had repented Himself of the great evil He had purposed against the city, Jonah spoke unto the LORD and revealed the reason he was angry. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that in the first and opening chapter of this book we find Jonah attempting to flee from the presence of the LORD, while in the fourth chapter we actually find Jonah growing and becoming angry with the LORD.

The words which are found in the opening verses of the fourth chapter reveal Jonah’s anger—not necessarily with the response of the Ninevites after he had preached unto them righteousness and judgment, but because of the LORD’s response to their repentance. Jonah wasn’t angry with the response of others, but was actually angry with the response of the LORD toward the actions of this heathen and Gentile people. Oh dear reader, please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for it shines an entirely different light on to what we find and read within this prophetic book. Jonah’s argument and anger with the LORD entirely and altogether surrounded and was based on His character, for it was His character that seemed to offend Job.

What’s more, is that in the fourth chapter you even get the sense that when Job was still in his country, and when the LORD first spoke to him about going unto the city of Nineveh Jonah had a conversation and dialogue with Him about His very nature and character. Notice if you will the words Jonah spoke unto the LORD in the second verse as he declared unto the LORD, saying, “Was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish.”

What so amazes me about the narrative of Jonah and his attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD—and not only his attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD, but also his argument with the LORD after Nineveh repented before the LORD with fasting, with dust, sackcloth and ashes. Jonah knew and understood the character of the LORD while still in his land, and while still in his country, and the text actually seems to indicate that Jonah wrestled with that character and nature when the LORD first spoke unto him about going unto Nineveh to cry out against it for its wickedness which went up before the LORD.

The text seems to indicate the awesome and incredible reality that Jonah knew and was aware of the character of the LORD while he was still within his country, and we almost get the sense that he sought to use the character of the LORD as the basis of his argument against going unto Nineveh. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand regarding the words found in this prophetic book it’s that Jonah was no stranger to the character of the living God, and he knew the same thing Moses knew and heard directly from the LORD as the LORD passed by him while he was in the cleft of the rock. Jonah’s words which were spoken before the LORD in the fourth chapter reveal his knowledge of the nature and character of the LORD, and it was that nature and character that Jonah actually tried using as an excuse to flee from the presence of the LORD.

Scripture reveals how Job thought and believed he could run and flee from the presence of the LORD, and yet in the fourth chapter we are brought face to face that what Job was really running from was the character of God—and not just the idea of the character of God, but actually his knowledge of the character of God. Notice if you will how in the second verse Jonah actually speaks before and declares unto the LORD that he knew tat the LORD was a gracious God, and that He was a merciful God, and that He was slow to anger, and was of great kindness, and repents Himself of evil.

Please don’t miss the awesome truth surrounding Jonah’s words and exchange between himself and the LORD, for Jonah actually reveals his intimate knowledge concerning the character of the LORD. Jonah revealed unto the LORD when speaking to Him that he knew the LORD was gracious and merciful, and knew that He was slow to anger and of great kindness, and it was that knowledge which Jonah could not justify in direct connection with the heathens and Gentiles in Nineveh.

Time and time again I have read the prophetic book of Jonah and I have thought and believed that what Jonah was running and fleeing from was the call of God which was placed upon his life, and the assignment the LORD gave him to journey unto Nineveh and cry against it because of the wickedness which went up before the LORD. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jonah wasn’t really running from the call of God upon his life as much as he was running from the character of God.

Jonah knew and understood the character of the LORD—the same character which was revealed unto Moses atop Horeb in the midst of the wilderness of Sinai—and it was that character which Jonah attempted to flee and run from. In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve attempted to hide themselves from the voice of the LORD because they realized they were naked and were ashamed, while Jonah attempted to flee from the presence of the LORD because of the character He possessed.

This is actually quite remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for while Jonah was still present within his country he knew and was very much aware of the character of the LORD, and was aware of the graciousness and mercy of the LORD, and yet despite that knowledge there came a point when the character of the LORD offended the agenda—and perhaps even the character of Jonah. I sit here today and I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome reality that Jonah was very much aware of the character of the living God, and Jonah knew that character, and yet he had reached the place where the character of God offended his own character.

THE COLLISION OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD AND THE CHARACTER OF MAN!

Jonah’s flight from the presence of the LORD was a direct result of his inability to handle the collision and conflict of the character of God with his own character. In all reality, I would dare say that there are many of us who when we experience this collision and conflict between the character of God and our own character, we tend to respond just as Jonah did. Oh we do in fact know that the LORD is gracious and merciful, and we do in fact know that the LORD is slow to anger and of great kindness, and there are times when that knowledge is not only too wonderful for us, but might in fact offend our own character, and perhaps even our own agenda.

Stop for a moment and think about the fact that Jonah indicated that while he was in his own country he knew and understood the character of the LORD, and he understood the same thing Moses himself understood by revelation of the LORD at Horeb, and that knowledge was acceptable in the sight of Jonah until it entered into a place of conflict and collided with his own character. Scripture seems to indicate that Jonah would have been willing to the inhabitants of Nineveh to perish in the judgment and wrath of the LORD and the entire city to be completely and utterly destroyed.

Scripture seems to point to the fact that Jonah would have been content hearing that Nineveh had been destroyed and devastated in the face of the wrath and judgment of the LORD, and would have perhaps even reveled and marveled in it. Much to his chagrin and surprise, however—not only would the LORD instruct Jonah to go unto the city and cry out against it because of its wickedness, but the LORD would respond to their repentance and humility before Him. Pause and think about the fact that this wasn’t a Hebrew city in the land of Israel that would repent before the LORD in dust and ashes with sackcloth and fasting, but it was a heathen and Gentile city.

What’s more is that it wasn’t merely a select few within the city of Nineveh that repented before the LORD, nor was it merely the king of Nineveh who repented before the LORD of hosts, but it was the entire city. Now, we would like to think that if we experienced such success in preaching that we would be elated and ecstatic about such a marvelous and beautiful response before the LORD, however, despite the fact that the entire city of Nineveh repented before the LORD, and despite the fact that Jonah also witnessed the LORD repent Him of the evil which He purposed against this city, Jonah grew angry and offended with the LORD. It’s worth noting and pointing out that after Jonah witnessed all of Nineveh repent before the LORD, and knew the LORD had repented Himself of the evil which He had purposed against the city and its inhabitants, Jonah sat outside the wall of the city on the east side of the city that he might see what would become of the city.

One might even get the strong sense that Jonah thought for sure the LORD would judge the city of Nineveh—even in spite of their repentance before Him in sackcloth, dust and ashes. One gets the strong impression that Jonah might have even wanted the LORD to judge Nineveh rather than turning away His wrath and effectively cancelling out His judgment.

As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the fact that while it was true the LORD sent Jonah unto Nineveh to cry out against it for all the wickedness that was present therein, it might be possible the LORD knew the inhabitants of the city would repent before Him. If we truly believe the LORD knows the end from the beginning then we have to get the sense that the LORD knew that by Jonah going unto Nineveh to preach against it because of its wickedness they would respond by repenting before Him.

There is not a doubt in my mind that when the LORD sent Jonah unto Nineveh he knew that upon hearing the word of the LORD and the declaration of impending judgment the inhabitants of the city would repent themselves of their wickedness, and would indeed humble themselves before the LORD. The question I can’t help but ask myself as I sit here this morning is whether or not Jonah was sent unto Nineveh to cry out against it because of its wickedness because the LORD not only knew they would repent before Him of that wickedness, but also as a witness against the house of Israel.

Is it possible that that the LORD would send one of His own people unto this heathen and Gentile city to preach and cry out against the wickedness therein because He wanted to have a demonstration unto the house of Israel concerning the repentance of Nineveh, but their refusal to repent before Him, and their refusal to turn themselves once more to the LORD would bring judgment against and upon them. It’s actually quite intriguing to think about and consider how the LORD would send one of His own unto a heathen and Gentile city to cry out against the wickedness therein, and they would respond to the preaching of Jonah and repent in sackcloth and ashes before the LORD.

This heathen and Gentile city would hear the preaching of the word of the LORD, and they would hear a warning of impending judgment and wrath, and it would so shake them that the entire city would repent in dust and ashes. What’s more, is that this repentance would start at the very top of the city of Nineveh with the king, and it would be the king who would call the city to repentance before the LORD. Jonah went a day’s journey into the city and proclaimed the word of the LORD, and when the word of the LORD reached the king’s ear he would issue a decree that no would eat anything until they saw what the LORD would do unto them. It might be that perhaps the LORD would repent and relent Himself of the great judgment and wrath He purposed against this great city.

The more I read and consider the words found in this prophetic book the more I can’t help but be directly confronted with the awesome and incredible reality of this heathen and Gentile city which did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob hearing the word of the LORD prophesied and proclaimed by this Hebrew, and it would shake the entire city to its core—and so much so that they would turn themselves to the LORD, and would repent of the great wickedness found in the midst of them.

There is a part of me that wonders if the LORD sent Jonah unto Nineveh as an indictment against the house of Israel much like the LORD would send the apostle Paul and the apostles unto the Gentiles as an indictment against the Jewish people during the days after the Messiah had come, died on the cross, was buried in the grave, raised to life on the third day, and ascended unto the right hand of the Father forty days later.

I can’t help but see a direct link and connection between Jonah being sent unto the Gentiles in the Old Testament and the apostle Paul being sent unto the Gentiles—and both because of the rejection of the Jewish people of that which was right before them. The house of Israel rejected the word of the LORD and the prophets whom the LORD raised up before them, and almost as a direct result the LORD would raise up one of their own and send them unto a heathen and Gentile city preaching repentance and warning of judgment and wrath. Jonah’s being sent unto the Gentiles in the days of the Old Covenant was not that much different from the apostle Paul together with the other apostles being sent unto the Gentiles in the days of the early church because of their rejection of the physical person of the Messiah, as well as their rejection of the apostles and their teaching concerning the Messiah.

It’s interesting and worth noting that what ultimately drove the apostle Paul unto the Gentiles was the persecution of the Jewish people in response to his preaching of the gospel—and not merely their rejection of the preaching of the gospel, but also their continued rejection concerning the Messiah.

I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative surrounding Jonah, and I can’t help but get the strong sense that Jonah was a Hebrew who was called of the LORD to preach righteousness and warn of judgment in a heathen and Gentile city. What’s more, is that Jonah might have had an idea or suspicion that the Ninevites would respond to the preaching of the word of the LORD and would repent before the LORD.

We certainly know that he was very much aware of the character of the LORD, and it was the character of the LORD which offended Jonah and caused him to flee from the presence of the LORD of hosts. With that being said, it’s actually quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider the awesome truth that the LORD would send one of His own people unto a heathen and Gentile city that he might preach righteousness unto them—and not only preach righteousness unto them, but also quite possibly provoke the house of Israel as well.

It’s worth noting and pointing out that Jonah would go unto the heathen and Gentile city of Nineveh, would preach unto them the word of the LORD, and would experience them repenting before the LORD with fasting, with dust and ashes, and with sackcloth. What’s more, is that the city of Nineveh would respond more to the word of the LORD than the house of Israel had, and would even do. We know that ultimately the house of Israel would be invaded by the Assyrians, and how the house of Israel would be carried away captive into the nations and lands within the Assyrian empire.

What’s more, is that at the very heart of the Assyrian Empire would be its capital city of Nineveh which would experience the preaching of the word of the LORD—and would not only experience the preaching of the word of the LORD, but would also repent before the LORD in dust and ashes. Imagine what it might have been like for Jonah to preach judgment to this heathen and Gentile city knowing what he knew about the character and nature of the living God, and he not only witnessed the repentance of the entire city, but he also witnessed the repentance of the LORD concerning the evil He had purposed against it.

It would be this repentance of the LORD which would offend Jonah—even knowing what he did about the character and nature of the LORD—and it would be this repentance and turning of the LORD that would cause Jonah to become angry with the LORD. What a tremendous turn of events would take place within the prophetic book of Jonah, as Jonah would preach to an entire city concerning the coming judgment of the LORD and would witness an entire city from the king who sat upon the throne to the lowest servant repenting before the LORD in dust and ashes.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is quite remarkable to consider the awesome reality that the LORD would raise up a Hebrew from the house of Israel and sent him unto a heathen and Gentile city to preach judgment and repentance—perhaps as a means of provocation to the house of Israel concerning their own failure and refusal to repent before the LORD. I can’t help but wonder if the LORD would have sent Jonah unto Nineveh—to this capital and chief city—to preach judgment and righteousness to it as a means to provoke the house of Israel concerning the words and warnings which they received.

We know that in the New Testament the apostle Peter would be the first of the apostles who would be sent unto the Gentiles to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and it would be unto the house of Cornelius that not only was the gospel preached, but also the Holy Spirit was poured out filling them all. We know that the apostle Paul would ultimately become and be known as “the apostle unto the Gentiles,” for it would be he who would engage on three missionary journeys into Asia and Europe that he might establish churches among the Gentiles.

What’s more, is that when writing unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul would speak about the grafting in of the Gentiles during a period of time when the Jews would reject the Messiah, as well as the gospel and good news concerning the Messiah. We know that we are living in the times of the Gentiles right now, and that many Jews still reject Jesus as the Messiah, thus continuing the rejection that began more than two thousand years ago. When we read the prophetic book of Jonah we find a Hebrew being sent unto this heathen and Gentile city to preach judgment against and before it, and almost being sent to preach to a city that was ripe for repentance as a sign, as a witness and as a testimony against the house of Israel. Perhaps it is for this reason why Jesus declared that the generation of Ninevites which were present during the days of Jonah would rise up in judgment against the generation during Jesus’ day because they repented at the preaching of Jonah.

Nineveh would repent at the preaching of Jonah while the house of Israel would not only choose not to repent before the LORD, but would also continue to turn their hearts further and further away from the LORD until they were ultimately swept away in the judgment of the LORD. Jesus indicted the generation that was present during the days He walked upon the earth for there was one greater than Jonah who was walking among them, and yet they not only rejected the Messiah, but also refused to humble themselves before Him in repentance.

Pause and think about the awesome and incredible reality that Jonah preaching judgment unto the inhabitants of Nineveh would have been a direct provocation of the house of Israel—and perhaps not merely a provocation, but also an indictment against them of the voices of all the prophets which the LORD had raised up among them to warn them, to sound the alarm, and to preach repentance before the LORD. Despite the countless voices the house of Israel would have among them in their midst they would harden their hearts and close their ears to the preaching of the prophets, and as a result they would find themselves hurdling toward judgment before the LORD.

Jonah’s preaching to the city of Nineveh would be an example how a people should respond to the word of the LORD, and how the house of Israel should have responded to the message of the prophets. The city of Nineveh would in essence indict and condemn the house of Israel during that generation for their rejection of the word of the LORD and the voices of the prophets who were spoken among them. What’s more, is that that the grafting in of the Gentiles, the preaching of the apostle Paul and the other apostles unto the Gentiles during the days of the early church would be a tremendous indictment against the Jewish people—not only for their rejection of the Messiah when He walked among them, but also when the apostles preached the gospel and good news concerning the Messiah.

The underlying question(s) we must ask ourselves when reading the prophetic book of Jonah is whether or not we are such who are somehow offended with the character of God because His nature and character offends us. Moreover, we must ask ourselves if we are those who when hearing the word of the LORD being preached, spoken and delivered unto us respond with humility, with brokenness, with submission and with surrender. Jonah was sent unto the city of Nineveh to preach judgment before and unto the inhabitants therein, and they would respond to the LORD by repenting in sackcloth, in dust and ashes.

We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss the incredible importance surrounding the book of Jonah and this man who attempted to flee from the presence of the LORD—and not just fleeing from the presence of the LORD, but the divine nature and character of the LORD when it went against what he believed within his own heart and soul.

https://emotionalpeace.wordpress.com/2020/09/23/running-from-the-character-of-god-offended-by-his-nature/

Running From the Character of God & Offended By His Nature


Inside Boston’s Looming Mental Health Crisis

Depressed. Anxious. Stressed. We were all of these things even before the pandemic hit. Now, facing a long winter of isolation and uncertainty, Bostonians are increasingly finding themselves at their breaking point. A special report on the area’s looming mental health crisis—and how to find help if you need it.

 

by RACHEL SLADE· 9/22/2020

 

Photo illustration by Benjamen Purvis / Getty/iStock/Media photos

If I asked how you are doing today, how would you answer? You might say “pretty well”—after all, you’ve probably already ticked a lot of things off your to-do list—shopping, cooking, helping the kids with remote classes, doing those Zoom calls like a boss, weightlifting on the porch, dropping in on your friend’s virtual cocktail hour. But dig a little deeper. Have you smiled—like, really smiled? Have you laughed? Have you been able to find joy in things big or small?

If the answer is no, you’re hardly alone. On August 21, the well-known journalist and pundit Molly Jong-Fast tweeted: “I don’t think we’re talking enough about the emotional effect the pandemic is having on us all.” In just 24 hours, 55,000 people had clicked the “like” button on her tweet, and nearly 2,000 followed up with their own mental health stories, many a gut-­wrenching snapshot of 2020 pain told in 280 characters or fewer. They were brief, a knife to the heart: “I cry almost every other day,” wrote one person. Some revealed our collective fragility: “One little thing…like a sudden home repair…or a big thing…like a hurricane…suddenly brings your emotional state into a spotlight.” An alarming number of people expressed dangerous ideations: “I’ve never been closer to self-harm than I have been in this past month, after a lifetime of trying to cultivate a sense of optimism, kindness, and solidarity with my fellow man regardless of their differences. It’s taking a toll, that’s for sure.” In one simple tweet, Jong-Fast had triggered an outpouring of real, raw emotional pain.

We are not okay. The kids are not all right. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a massive toll on our mental well-being across every demographic, age group, economic level, and region. A CDC report revealed that as of late June, about 25 percent of adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety disorder. That’s triple the rate in 2019. According to the same report, one in four young adults ages 18 to 24 had seriously considered suicide in the past month; unpaid caregivers and essential workers also reported high rates of suicidal thoughts. In fact, more than half of U.S. adults in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in July said their mental health has been “negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.” In short, we are barreling toward a second pandemic, a collective PTSD, a mental health reckoning.

Fortunately, Massachusetts is in a better position than most states to deal with the huge number of people already in treatment for mental health issues: The state has a long history of forward-thinking policies dating back to landmark legislation passed in 1966 that greatly expanded outpatient and ­community-based mental health facilities and services. In 2017, we had about 50 behavioral healthcare providers per 10,000 residents—the highest ratio in the United States.

The Silent Crisis
A sobering look at the Bay State’s numbers.

19.6%
Depression rate in Massachusetts pre-COVID

363,000
Number of adults in the state reporting unmet need for mental health treatment from 2017 to 2018

$8.9 billion
The economic burden of serious mental illness, including lost productivity and medical costs, in 2018

50
Number of behavioral health providers per 10,000 residents in the Massachusetts—the highest in the U.S.

27%
Percentage of the state prison population previously diagnosed with a serious mental illness

131%
Percent increase in patient volume reported by Boston Medical Center’s ambulatory psychiatry team in August from the five months prior to COVID-19

22,000
Number of telehealth visits specifically for behavioral services reported at Massachusetts community health centers by April—compared with 517 in January

16.1%
Unemployment rate in Massachusetts as of July, the highest in the country

Yet while we know that mental health is as important to our well-being as physical health, we still fail to prioritize it in the same way. For instance, we reimburse for services unfairly—behavioral health providers receive about 60 percent less from Massachusetts insurance companies for in-network visits than primary care providers—leading many to only accept patients who are able to pay out of pocket. The result? About 363,000 adults in the state reported in recent years that they did not receive mental health treatment when they needed it. Many said they just couldn’t afford it, despite the fact that Massachusetts has reached near-universal insurance coverage.

That was pre-COVID. The arrival of the coronavirus, and all of the confusion surrounding it, has created a perfect storm for a mental health crisis, says Scott Rauch, psychiatrist in chief at McLean Hospital and Mass General Brigham’s chair of psychiatry and mental health. McLean experienced about a 30 percent increase in outpatient services due to technology-enabled care during the summer; over at Boston Medical Center, the ambulatory psychiatry team reported a 131 percent increase in patient volume from the five months prior to COVID-19. Over the phone in August, Rauch ticked off the factors preying on our well-being: fear of infection; the stress of disruption in our daily lives; the global economic crisis; and tremendous loss and grief around us, made worse when social distancing prevents traditional dying and mourning rituals. “This trauma is bigger than anything we have seen in our lifetimes before,” Rauch said. “It’s at a larger scale than 9/11 and Katrina. The COVID crisis is protracted now for many months and extends throughout the nation, as well as around the globe.”

Compounding the problem, Rauch pointed out, is the fact that we can’t recharge like we did in the past. We can’t go on vacation, go out to eat, or shop without fear of contracting a potentially deadly virus. The physical toll of long-term isolation has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And if we continue to be good New Englanders—stuffing down our frustrations and fears instead of asking for help—we may lose it altogether.

Photo illustration by Benjamen Purvis / Getty/iStock/Media photos

The parents are not okay.

Like so many of us, Jeanne (not her real name), a 40-year-old Boston-area mother, and her husband started working from home full time in March. With two children in grade school trying to navigate remote learning—one fairly self-sufficient, the other requiring a little more assistance—plus all the usual household tasks, it was a heavy load to bear.

In the beginning, Jeanne and her husband took turns helping their children with online classes and making sure they were occupied, safe, and fed. Together they managed chores. It worked well, for a while. But by July, when Jeanne’s husband went back to the office, she was feeling worn out by the stress. Now her helper was gone, leaving her to deal with everything alone. The children continued demanding her time and attention; their constant interruptions prevented her from focusing on her work. Jeanne, who set high standards for herself, worried that her triple performance as a spouse, mother, and employee was slipping.

She began to hear a negative voice inside her head. It told her that her marriage was failing, her children were failing, and she was failing at her job. The voice went on an endless loop, keeping her awake at night. In the morning, still fatigued, she had to get up and do it all over again.

As the pressures mounted and the inner voice got louder, Jeanne began to check out. If she couldn’t do anything well, why even try? She stopped showering and eating; she could summon the energy to rise and feed the kids breakfast, but then she headed to the couch to lie down. The stress made her just “shut down,” says Deborah Mindnich, the nurse director for the Clinical Evaluation Center at McLean Hospital, whose team later assessed her. Jeanne lost her sense of humor. She lost her joy. “When it’s gotten to that point, it’s important to get out of that environment and shift focus on treatment and support,” Mindnich says.

Alarmed by his wife’s decline, Jeanne’s husband brought her to the emergency room, where she was referred to McLean for admission and later diagnosed as clinically depressed. From there, Jeanne enrolled in McLean’s day program, where Mindnich and her team run group therapy sessions and one-on-one counseling. While she’s set herself up for recovery, the road to wellness will likely be a long one.

Many of the new patients coming to McLean these days have a story similar to Jeanne’s, Mindnich says. Some may have experienced the loss of a family member or a job. Add to that worry over a child’s ability to handle remote learning, graduate from high school, or start college, and the stress builds, Mindnich says: “We’re seeing patients at the lower level—people who are depressed—who are having suicidal ideations that they’ve never experienced before.” Without COVID-19, she says, maybe they wouldn’t have fallen to that point.

Over at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, about 20 percent of the psychiatric patients coming through the emergency room—the most expensive and cumbersome way to launch a treatment plan—have never sought mental health services before. Some manage to drive themselves to the ER, but too often they arrive by ambulance after a suicide attempt. “This is the most striking [psychiatric] population,” says Sejal Shah, chief of the Division of Medical Psychiatry at the Brigham. “If the pandemic hadn’t happened, they maybe would have never presented to an emergency room in their life.” Patients may be wealthy or middle class or on the economic edge—it doesn’t seem to matter. “The human experience is the human experience,” Shah says. “This is something that money can’t buy you out of.”

Women may be feeling the pressure more acutely because they entered this pandemic on unequal ground: In Boston, white female workers earn 70 percent of their white male counterparts, according to a 2019 Boston Women’s Workforce Council report. Women of color fare worse: Asian women earn 67 cents to every white male dollar, while Black and Latina women earn just 49 cents and 45 cents, respectively. Regardless of their socioeconomic standing, women still frequently shoulder the burden of childcare, household duties, and aging-parent care. Even female physicians are finding that home obligations are falling unequally along traditional gender lines, Shah notes. In the age of COVID-19, she says, feminism has taken 10 steps backward.

These inequalities only serve to exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress. When the pandemic forced kids into their bedrooms and grandparents into isolation, domestic pressures on women mounted. In a 2020 Motherly survey of 3,195 millennial mothers, a whopping 97 percent of respondents reported “feeling burned out by motherhood at least some of the time.” Adding misery to misery, there’s an assumption in many partnerships that when push comes to shove, the woman will quit her job because she earns less and is needed so much more at home.

There’s no way to soft-pedal this: Job loss for anyone can be devastating. Work is the pathway to financial independence and private insurance; it’s a social and intellectual outlet, and a connection to the outside world. Work gives us purpose, keeps us busy, distracts us. Being furloughed, laid off, or worse—forced by your partner to quit a job you enjoy—may lead to acute anger, depression, and resentment.

One response to loss of control and loss of “normal” is anger. Brigham psychiatrist Nomi Levy-Carrick says many of her new psychiatric patients sought professional help when they found themselves saying things to their partners or children they never thought they would. “There’s that moment when you say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I just said that or did that or had that argument,’” she explains. “‘I never wanted to put my kids in this situation.’”

The kids are not okay.

Facing prolonged isolation from friends and teachers at such a formative age, many teens worry they’re losing their ability to connect with others. That’s something Beverly-based psychologist Dorian Crawford has observed firsthand over the past few months. Crawford provides neuropsychological testing for students who might need more support in school or college or are at risk for self-harm. Some of this testing requires that subjects fill out long, carefully worded questionnaires; Crawford is trained to analyze answers for psychological markers. An anxiety, depression, or ADHD diagnosis can lead to her patients getting the help they need.

When Crawford began administering tests again this past July once safety protocols were in place, she was shocked by the vast discrepancy between how her subjects said they were feeling and what their data showed. Teens would come into her office claiming they were fine, that the pandemic wasn’t really affecting them. But the questionnaires revealed that some of them had lost hope and checked out. “The data revealed that they were much more entrenched in mental health issues, primarily depression and anxiety, and I’m talking about at a clinical level,” she says. “What I’m getting from these young people is a feeling of, ‘What’s the point?’”

Crawford says parents are surprised when they learn about the depth of despair their children are feeling. Sure, the teens were staying up later and sleeping into the afternoon, maybe eating a lot less or a lot more (which, Crawford notes, is a form of self-harm), maybe acting more surly or silent than usual, but clinically depressed? Crawford would have missed it, too, if not for the data. “The striking part to me is that they report they’re doing fine, and they’re not doing fine at all,” she says. “Most kids are not sure what they need, or have access to what they need. They’re not sure what to make of their feelings.”

The troubles don’t stop once high school ends, of course. Martin Pierre, a staff psychologist at Brandeis University, has also seen college students struggle to adjust to the new normal. “Once [on campus], they feel a sense of disconnection because part of the college experience is connecting with cohorts,” he says. Particularly with students of color, Pierre has seen symptoms of anxiety and depression “exacerbated by the political situation, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the systemic oppression that is going on.” To help students support one another, he’s working on implementing peer check-in groups on Zoom.

Though we can’t predict the long-term consequences of COVID-19 on young people, Crawford believes those suffering the most need treatment and perhaps medication. For those with mild depression or stress, she advises trying simple coping methods: Go outside and walk, take a fresh-air break, go to the beach with friends (wearing masks, of course). She’s also telling parents to chill about screen time—social media is literally their kids’ connection to the world. “We have to be flexible in this moment,” she says. “We are disconnected from our peers. Nothing is easy.” In search of a positive message, she says we could seize this opportunity to teach our children about resilience: “Life is fragile. The world needs us to be able to manage change without falling apart.”

Photo illustration by Benjamen Purvis / Getty/iStock/Media photos

Boston’s marginalized and most vulnerable communities are not okay.

Martin Pierre, the Brandeis psychologist, was excited to meet with his client in person. Though he’d found their Zoom therapy sessions to be effective, the psychologist wanted to continue building on their progress by scheduling a socially distanced outdoor walk-and-talk. But at the last minute, Pierre’s phone rang. It was his patient. “He said, ‘Dr. Pierre, I can’t go. I’m nervous,’” Pierre recalls. The thought that the two Black men might be stopped by the police or harassed while strolling down the street kept him from leaving his home.

It’s this fear, coupled with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, that Pierre says may be driving Black men to seek mental health services in unprecedented numbers. “The experiences they are witnessing today, [above and beyond] the systemic oppression and brutalization of men of color, have triggered Black men’s symptoms, which may include depression, anxiety, increase in alcohol use, and avoidance of activities,” he notes. As a Black practitioner, Pierre is overwhelmed with the demand: “I just can’t keep up with the tremendous needs. I just cannot keep up.”

Lynn-based licensed clinical social worker and ordained member of the clergy Walter Raleigh Higgs III has seen much of the same in his practice. “This is a very overwhelming moment,” he says. “[George Floyd’s] murder brought up so much—we’ve been navigating racism and microaggressions, but COVID forced us to sit still and pay attention. [It’s] caused a lot of anxiety and depression among people of color.”

At the same time, being hit harder by the economic downturn has also taken a heavy emotional toll on communities of color. Pierre says that before COVID-19, jobs created a distraction—working long hours meant that his clients “didn’t have time to self-reflect.” Now that some of them have had more time to ponder accomplishments and failures, they may not like what they see. These feelings can manifest in anger and low self-esteem. “This increased sensitivity to threat, this defensive posture—avoiding new situations, [it gives] them a sense of shame,” he explains.

The problem is compounded by the fact that in many communities, the stigma of seeking help for mental illness is still strong, Pierre says. Black men, in particular, “just don’t enter a psychologist’s office. So any time a Black male calls me for help, it means they must be in a great deal of psychic pain.” But for a person of color, finding a mental health provider in Massachusetts who really gets you may be difficult. As of 2016, 84 percent of psychologists in the United States were white, according to an American Psychological Association workforce study. Because we can’t immediately correct this racial imbalance, Pierre says additional training is needed to help white practitioners develop culturally responsive and sensitive skills so their clients of color can feel “safe and supported and forge a therapeutic alliance” with the practitioner.

Black men, of course, aren’t the only marginalized or vulnerable population suffering in Boston. The pandemic has magnified inequalities across American society, so it’s no surprise that many groups are feeling less supported than ever. Seniors have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. They’re significantly more susceptible to the virus than other populations, which means they’re living with a lot of fear. Baby boomers who dreamed of spending their golden years traveling or visiting grandkids have been grounded. Those in assisted-living communities have found themselves more isolated than ever, avoiding contact with family and friends but uncomfortable using technology that younger people depend on to stay connected. Making matters worse is national rhetoric that’s often referred to the high death rate of older Americans as collateral damage.

For people with substance abuse issues, meanwhile, the pandemic may have severed a lifeline to wellness. Higgs explains that when people struggle with addiction, they often burn bridges with their family. AA and NA meetings, as well as supportive programming at community centers, YMCAs, and houses of worship, give people in recovery a new family that can support them as they rebuild their lives. During quarantine, all of those groups went virtual or stopped meeting altogether; some people, unfortunately, couldn’t be reached, and they relapsed. “The silence of isolation is extremely loud and overwhelming,” Higgs says, “and some people are self-medicating to escape from being present, to escape that silence.”

To illustrate the profound sense of despair, McLean’s Mindnich tells the story of a middle-aged man who has battled alcoholism but pre-COVID was doing well. He was working while in treatment at McLean and regularly attending AA meetings. When the pandemic hit, he was furloughed from his job. Under lockdown, his depression returned and he turned to alcohol and kept on drinking, ignoring the calls from his AA peers. “Then he [hit that] magical point when he realized he was really deep down in this with no end in sight, and he opted for treatment,” she says.

Fortunately, the man already had support structures in place. At McLean, he told Mindnich he took up drinking again because he figured it was the end of the world. “It stuck with me—his thinking it’s the end of the world,” Mindnich says. She’s heard this from a lot people with substance abuse issues: What does it matter? There is no tomorrow.

But there will be a tomorrow, and a next week, and a next year, Mindnich says. “You have to take the patient by the hand and say, ‘I’m here with you, and I’m going to show you the way out.’”

None of us is okay—but we will help each other find a way forward.

The good news: There is already a broad range of treatment options available in the state. The bad news is that everyone—even mental health professionals—has trouble navigating this system, and that just may end up being one of the biggest stories of our time, second only to COVID-19 itself. “You could say we’re lucky that we have lots of resources and providers,” acknowledges Danna Mauch, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health , “but it’s a very fragmented system.”

So how do we fix it? The first thing we need to do is fully integrate mental health treatment into the medical system. Right now, primary care providers are on the front lines, conducting the bulk of mental health assessments. Yet these providers do not receive the extensive training that psychiatrists do, so they are less equipped to detect warning signs. The majority of ERs, meanwhile, are not set up to adequately support those who come through their door with mental health issues: Adult psychiatric patients may wait in the ER for days before they’re seen by a clinician, while some children have languished for weeks, sometimes months, before a psychiatric bed is available. Now more than ever, walk-in urgent care centers for mental health are desperately needed so people can get help immediately.

We also need to address the systemic access and reimbursement issues plaguing the industry. Over the past year, the state Senate has tried to do just that, passing three bills that aim to improve mental healthcare in Massachusetts. Their proposals include legislation aimed at expanding services, ensuring parity in insurance coverage for mental and physical health treatment, and reimbursing telehealth at the same rate as in-person care for the next two years. “Let me be clear,” said state Senate President Karen Spilka upon passage of the Patients First Act, “we cannot wait.”

For Spilka, breaking down barriers to mental health access is personal. Her father witnessed atrocities during World War II, a trauma that he could never overcome; suffering from PTSD and too ashamed to seek help, he died of a heart attack while she was in college. “I know how tormented a person can be with mental illness and how it can impact the family,” she tells me, “[which is why] I want to get rid of the stigma that prevents so many people, including my father, from getting the help they need.”

One nagging problem that legislators at the state and federal level addressed as soon as we went into lockdown was restrictions that limited how providers could communicate with patients off-site. Pre-COVID, providers had to deliver care on a secure audio-visual platform and get prior authorization to see patients at home. Now, therapists can see their clients via popular video apps and get paid at the same rate as in-person care. Thanks to this relaxing of the rules, even group therapy and peer support—two important therapeutic options for people in need—can continue during this time of isolation.

As it turns out, the transition to virtual therapy has been a win-win for everyone: Patients can get care when they need it, where they need it, and providers across the board have found that they have more time—no travel, traffic, or parking woes. And because people dealing with anxiety or depression sometimes have trouble leaving the house, telehealth means considerably fewer no-shows. A statewide tracking poll found its usage specifically for behavioral health services at community health centers grew from 517 visits in January to 22,000 by April.

Telehealth will likely be just one pandemic-era breakthrough for those of us seeking help. Now that mental wellness has been thrust front and center, Spilka believes that Massachusetts is “uniquely positioned to be a model in the nation. We have the best universities and providers. We have people who really want to do this.”

Let’s make sure they do. As we return to school and work, suppressing our humanity to maintain a safe distance while trying to express kindness in a faceless world, we’re all beginning to see how Boston’s collective wellness affects every single one of us. “Our health is inextricably connected to community,” Pierre, the Brandeis psychologist, reminds me. “If the community hurts, the individual hurts. If the individual hurts, the community hurts. I am because we are. Because we are, I am.”

https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2020/09/22/mental-health-boston/


 

VIDEO 100 Days of Faith

It isn’t presumptuous or arrogant to believe that God will reward a person who seeks Him and His Kingdom; in fact, it’s a necessary component of a life of faith. In order to focus on things beyond time and let those things fill our thoughts, Pastor Allen Jackson invites us to commit to three intentions: “I intend to grow in my faith and God’s involvement in my life,” “I intend to read my Bible,” and “I intend to pray.”

Pastor Allen Jackson concludes his series on 100 Days of Faith and gives help for living purposefully in order to implement ten principles of faith: Bible reading, prayer, honoring God at home, working with integrity, teaching our children to respect God and His people, faithfully participating in church, cooperating with the Holy Spirit, tithing, growing in faith, and saying yes to godliness.

100 Days of Faith, Part 1: Daily Commitments | Allen Jackson Ministries

100 Days of Faith, Part 2: I Choose To Honor God | Allen Jackson Ministries

Let’s discuss seven behaviors and attitudes that will help each of us live out our commitment to increasingly honor God in every area of our lives: honor God in our homes; work with integrity; teach children to respect God and His people; receive and extend forgiveness; cooperate with the Holy Spirit; live generously; and complete His assignments for us.

100 Days of Faith, Part 3: Truth For Living | Allen Jackson Ministries

Faith is not optional for a follower of Jesus. No matter how kind and generous we are, without faith we are not pleasing God. When we open our hearts to His Word, our faith will grow as we are transformed to be more like Jesus. Join me as I share 10 goals to adopt during the first 100 days of the year as we make personal commitments to seek the Lord and grow our faith.

100 Days of Faith, Part 4: Faith on Purpose | Allen Jackson Ministries

Pastor Allen Jackson concludes his series on 100 Days of Faith and gives help for living purposefully in order to implement ten principles of faith: Bible reading, prayer, honoring God at home, working with integrity, teaching our children to respect God and His people, faithfully participating in church, cooperating with the Holy Spirit, tithing, growing in faith, and saying yes to godliness.


100 Days of Faith Moving Rocks (Easter)

At Easter we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but we also celebrate what God is doing for us in the present. The same power that raised Jesus to life and rolled the stone away from the tomb is still present in the earth today, working miracles and moving the barriers that separate us from God’s best for our lives.

Watch video here


Pastor G. Allen Jackson’s Testimony | Today’s Life

Pastor G. Allen Jackson – Senior Pastor of one of the fastest growing Churches in the US – World Outreach Church – Murfreesboro TN

Allen Jackson Ministries


VIDEO Is America a Christian Nation?

 

Is America a Christian Nation?
by David Barton

is-america-a-christian-nation-1Modern claims that America is not a Christian nation are rarely noticed or refuted today because of the nation’s widespread lack of knowledge about America’s history and foundation. To help provide the missing historical knowledge necessary to combat today’s post-modern revisionism, presented below will be some statements by previous presidents, legislatures, and courts (as well as by current national Jewish spokesmen) about America being a Christian nation. These declarations from all three branches of government are representative of scores of others and therefore comprise only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.”

Defining a Christian Nation

 

Contemporary critics who assert that America is not a Christian nation always refrain from offering any definition of what the term “Christian nation” means. So what is an accurate definition of that term as demonstrated by the American experience?

Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christian theology, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained:

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[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. 1

So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.” 2

Constitutional law professor Edward Mansfield (1801-1880) similarly acknowledged:

In every country, the morals of a people – whatever they may be – take their form and spirit from their religion. For example, the marriage of brothers and sisters was permitted among the Egyptians because such had been the precedent set by their gods, Isis and Osiris. So, too, the classic nations celebrated the drunken rites of Bacchus. Thus, too, the Turk has become lazy and inert because dependent upon Fate, as taught by the Koran. And when in recent times there arose a nation [i.e., France] whose philosophers [e.g. Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Helvetius, etc.] discovered there was no God and no religion, the nation was thrown into that dismal case in which there was no law and no morals. . . . In the United States, Christianity is the original, spontaneous, and national religion. 3

Founding Father and U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall agreed:

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[W]ith us, Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it. 4

Christianity is the religion that shaped America and made her what she is today. In fact, historically speaking, it can be irrefutably demonstrated that Biblical Christianity in America produced many of the cherished traditions still enjoyed today, including:

  • A republican rather than a theocratic form of government;
  • The institutional separation of church and state (as opposed to today’s enforced institutional secularization of church and state);
  • Protection for religious toleration and the rights of conscience;
  • A distinction between theology and behavior, thus allowing the incorporation into public policy of religious principles that promote good behavior but which do not enforce theological tenets (examples of this would include religious teachings such as the Good Samaritan, The Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, etc., all of which promote positive civil behavior but do not impose ecclesiastical rites); and
  • A free-market approach to religion, thus ensuring religious diversity and security for the rights of religious conscience.

Consequently, a Christian nation as demonstrated by the American experience is a nation founded upon Christian and Biblical principles, whose values, society, and institutions have largely been shaped by those principles. This definition was reaffirmed by American legal scholars and historians for generations 5 but is widely ignored by today’s revisionists.

 

American Presidents Affirm that America is a Christian Nation

President Barack Obama is the first American president to deny that America is a Christian nation. 6 Notice a few representative statements on this subject by some of the forty-three previous presidents:

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. 7 JOHN ADAMS

[T]he teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally….impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teaching were removed. 8 TEDDY ROOSEVELT

America was born a Christian nation – America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture. 9 WOODROW WILSON

American life is builded, and can alone survive, upon . . . [the] fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior nineteen centuries ago. 10 HERBERT HOOVER

This is a Christian Nation. 11 HARRY TRUMAN

Let us remember that as a Christian nation . . . we have a charge and a destiny. 12 RICHARD NIXON

There are many additional examples, including even that of Thomas Jefferson. 13

Significantly, Jefferson was instrumental in establishing weekly Sunday worship services at the U. S. Capitol (a practice that continued through the 19th century) and was himself a regular and faithful attendant at those church services, 14 not even allowing inclement weather to dissuade his weekly horseback travel to the Capitol church. 15

(The fact that the U. S. Capitol building was available for church on Sundays was due to the Art. I, Sec. 7 constitutional requirement that forbade federal lawmaking on Sundays; and this recognition of a Christian Sabbath in the U. S. Constitution was cited by federal courts as proof of the Christian nature of America. 16 While not every Christian observes a Sunday Sabbath, no other religion in the world honors Sunday except Christianity. As one court noted, the various Sabbaths were “the Friday of the Mohammedan, the Saturday of the Israelite, or the Sunday of the Christian.” 17 )
is-america-a-christian-nation-4Why was Jefferson a faithful attendant at the Sunday church at the Capitol? He once explained to a friend while they were walking to church together:

No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example. 18

 

The U. S. Congress Affirms that America is a Christian Nation

Declarations from the Legislative Branch affirming America as a Christian nation are abundant. For example, in 1852-1853 when some citizens sought a complete secularization of the public square and a cessation of all religious activities by the government, Congress responded with unambiguous declarations about America as a Christian nation:

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HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect [denomination]. Any attempt to level and discard all religion would have been viewed with universal indignation. . . . In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity; that, in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions. 19

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We are Christians, not because the law demands it, not to gain exclusive benefits or to avoid legal disabilities, but from choice and education; and in a land thus universally Christian, what is to be expected, what desired, but that we shall pay a due regard to Christianity? 20

In 1856, the House of Representatives also declared:

[T]he great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 21

On March 3, 1863 while in the midst of the Civil War, the U. S. Senate requested President Abraham Lincoln to “designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation” 22 because:

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[S]incerely believing that no people, however great in numbers and resources or however strong in the justice of their cause, can prosper without His favor; and at the same time deploring the national offences which have provoked His righteous judgment, yet encouraged in this day of trouble by the assurances of His word to seek Him for succor according to His appointed way through Jesus Christ, the Senate of the United States do hereby request the President of the United States, by his proclamation, to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation. 23 (emphasis added)

President Lincoln quickly complied with that request, 24 and issued what today has become one of the most famous and quoted proclamations in America’s history. 25

Across the generations, our national reliance on God, the Bible, and Christianity has been repeatedly reaffirmed. In fact, consider five representative images produced by the U. S. Government. The first three are from World War II: one shows the Nazis as the enemy because they want to attack the Bible, and the other two encourage Americans to buy War Bonds by pointing to Christian images. The fourth and fifth images are from the Department of Agriculture in the 1960s, using the Bible and even Smokey Bear in prayer as symbols to encourage Americans to be conscious of fire safety and to help preserve and conserve nature.

is-america-a-christian-nation-6 is-america-a-christian-nation-7is-america-a-christian-nation-8 is-america-a-christian-nation-9  is-america-a-christian-nation-10

 

There are scores of other official actions by the U. S. Congress over the past two centuries affirming that America is a Christian nation.

 

The Judicial Branch Affirms that America is a Christian Nation

From the Judicial Branch, consider first some declarations of prominent U. S. Supreme Court Justices regarding America as a Christian nation.

Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) was appointed to the Court by President James Madison. Story is considered the founder of Harvard Law School and authored the three-volume classic Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833). In his 34 years on the Court, Story authored opinions in 286 cases, of which 269 were reported as the majority opinion or the opinion of the Court 26 and his many contributions to American law have caused him to be called a “Father of American Jurisprudence.” Justice Story openly declared:

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One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations. . . . I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. 27

His conclusion about America and Christianity was straightforward:

In [our] republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion as the great basis on which it must rest for its support and permanence. 28

Justice John McLean (1785-1861) was appointed to the Court by President Andrew Jackson. McLean served in the U. S. Congress, as a judge on the Ohio Supreme Court, and then held cabinet positions under two U. S. Presidents. His view on the importance of Christianity to American government and its institutions was unambiguous:

is-america-a-christian-nation-12

For many years, my hope for the perpetuity of our institutions has rested upon Bible morality and the general dissemination of Christian principles. This is an element which did not exist in the ancient republics. It is a basis on which free governments may be maintained through all time. . . . Free government is not a self-moving machine. . . . Our mission of freedom is not carried out by brute force, by canon law, or any other law except the moral law and those Christian principles which are found in the Scriptures. 29

Already mentioned at the beginning was Justice David Brewer (1837-1910), appointed to the Court by President Benjamin Harrison. Brewer held several judgeships in Kansas and served on a federal circuit court before his appointment to the Supreme Court. In addition to his already noted statements, Justice Brewer also declared:

We constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. 30

Brewer then chronicled the types of descriptions applied to nations:

is-america-a-christian-nation-13

We classify nations in various ways: as, for instance, by their form of government. One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic. Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gallio, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav. And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations. This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. In the case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, 143 U.S. 471, that Court, after mentioning various circumstances, added, “these and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” 31

Brewer did not believe that calling America a Christian nation was a hollow appellation; in fact, he penned an entire book setting forth the evidence that America was a Christian nation. 32 He concluded:

[I] have said enough to show that Christianity came to this country with the first colonists; has been powerfully identified with its rapid development, colonial and national, and today exists as a mighty factor in the life of the republic. This is a Christian nation. . . . [T]he calling of this republic a Christian nation is not a mere pretence, but a recognition of an historical, legal, and social truth. 33

Justice Earl Warren (1891-1974) agreed with his predecessors. Before being appointed as Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Warren had been the Attorney General of California. Warren declared:

is-america-a-christian-nation-14

I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people. . . . I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country. 34

There are many similar declarations by other Supreme Court Justices, but in addition to the declarations of individual judges, the federal courts have repeatedly affirmed America to be a Christian nation – including the U. S. Supreme Court, which declared that America was “a Christian country,” 35 filled with “Christian people,” 36 and was indeed “a Christian nation.” 37 Dozens of other courts past and present have repeated these pronouncements 38 but so,
is-america-a-christian-nation-15too, have American Presidents – as in 1947 when President Harry Truman quoted the Supreme Court, declaring:

This is a Christian Nation. More than a half century ago that declaration was written into the decrees of the highest court in this land [in an 1892 decision]. 39

 

American Jewish Leaders Agree with HistoryJewish leaders, although firmly committed to their own faith, understand that by defending Christianity they are defending what has provided them their own religious liberty in America. For example, Jeff Jacoby, a Jewish columnist at the Boston Globe explains:

is-america-a-christian-nation-16

This is a Christian country – it was founded by Christians and built on broad Christian principles. Threatening? Far from it. It is in precisely this Christian country that Jews have known the most peaceful, prosperous, and successful existence in their long history. 40

is-america-a-christian-nation-17Aaron Zelman (a Jewish author and head of a civil rights organization) similarly declares:

[C]hristian America is the best home our people have found in 2,000 years. . . . [T]his remains the most tolerant, prosperous, and safest home we could be blessed with. 41

Dennis Prager, a Jewish national columnist and popular talkshow host, warns:

If America abandons its Judeo-Christian values basis and the central role of the Jewish and Christian Bibles (its Founders’ guiding text), we are all in big trouble, including, most especially, America’s non-Christians. Just ask the Jews of secular Europe. 42

Prager further explained:

is-america-a-christian-nation-18

I believe that it is good that America is a Christian nation. . . . I have had the privilege of speaking in nearly every Jewish community in America over the last 30 years, and I have frequently argued in favor of this view. Recently, I spoke to the Jewish community of a small North Carolina city. When some in the audience mentioned their fear of rising religiosity among Christians, I asked these audience-members if they loved living in their city. All of them said they did. Is it a coincidence, I then asked, that the city you so love (for its wonderful people, its safety for your children, its fine schools, and its values that enable you to raise your children with confidence) is a highly Christian city? Too many Americans do not appreciate the connection between American greatness and American Christianity. 43

Don Feder, a Jewish columnist and long time writer for the Boston Herald, similarly acknowledges:

is-america-a-christian-nation-19

Clearly this nation was established by Christians. . . . As a Jew, I’m entirely comfortable with the concept of the Christian America. 44 The choice isn’t Christian America or nothing, but Christian America or a neo-pagan, hedonistic, rights-without-responsibilities, anti-family, culture-of-death America. As an American Jew. . . . [I] feel very much at home here. 45

In fact, Feder calls on Jews to defend the truth that America is a Christian Nation:

Jews – as Jews – must oppose revisionist efforts to deny our nation’s Christian heritage, must stand against the drive to decouple our laws from Judeo-Christian ethics, and must counter attacks on public expressions of the religion of most Americans – Christianity. Jews are safer in a Christian America than in a secular America. 46

Michael Medved, a Jewish national talkshow host and columnist, agrees that America is indeed a Christian nation:

is-america-a-christian-nation-20

The framers may not have mentioned Christianity in the Constitution but they clearly intended that charter of liberty to govern a society of fervent faith, freely encouraged by government for the benefit of all. Their noble and unprecedented experiment never involved a religion-free or faithless state but did indeed presuppose America’s unequivocal identity as a Christian nation. 47

Burt Prelutsky, a Jewish columnist for the Los Angeles Times (and a freelance writer for the New York Times, Washington Times, Sports Illustrated, and other national publications) and a patriotic Jewish American, gladly embraces America as a Christian nation and even resents the secularist post-modern attack on national Christian celebrations such as Christmas:

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas
is-america-a-christian-nation-21would become a dirty word. . . .How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? And in case you find that designation objectionable, would you deny that India is a Hindu country, that Turkey is Muslim, that Poland is Catholic? That doesn’t mean those nations are theocracies. But when the overwhelming majority of a country’s population is of one religion, and most Americans happen to be one sort of Christian or another, only a darn fool would deny the obvious. . . . This is ais-america-a-christian-nation-22

Christian nation, my friends. And all of us are fortunate it is one, and that so many millions of Americans have seen fit to live up to the highest precepts of their religion. It should never be forgotten that, in the main, it was Christian soldiers who fought and died to defeat Nazi Germany and who liberated the concentration camps. Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours. Merry Christmas, my friends. 48

Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin of the Jewish Policy Center unequivocally declares

is-america-a-christian-nation-23

[I] understand that I live . . . in a Christian nation, albeit one where I can follow my faith as long as it doesn’t conflict with the nation’s principles. The same option is open to all Americans and will be available only as long as this nation’s Christian roots are acknowledged and honored. 49

In fact, with foreboding he warns:

Without a vibrant and vital Christianity, America is doomed, and without America, the west is doomed. Which is why I, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, devoted to Jewish survival, the Torah, and Israel am so terrified of American Christianity caving in. 50 God help Jews if America ever becomes a post-Christian society! Just think of Europe! 51

 

— — — ◊ ◊ ◊ — — —

There is much additional evidence, and it unequivocally demonstrates that any claim that America was not a Christian nation is an unabashed attempt at historical revisionism. Of such efforts, former Chief Justice William Rehnquist wisely observed, “no amount of repetition of historical errors . . . can make the errors true.” 52

Picture Credits:
p. 2, “John Marshall,” Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Theodor Horydczak Collection, LC-H814-T-C01-518-A; p. 4, “Thomas Jefferson,” Independence National Historical Park; p. 7, “Joseph Story,” The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: George P.A. Healy); “John McLean,” The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Charles Bird King); “David Brewer,” Library of Congress.


 

Endnotes1. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 12.

2. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 57.

3. Edward Mansfield, American Education, Its Principle and Elements (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851), p. 43.

4. John Marshall, The Papers of John Marshall, Charles Hobson, editor (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), Vol. XII, p. 278, to Rev. Jasper Adams, May 9, 1833.

5. Stephen Cowell, The Position of Christianity in the United States in its Relations with our Political Institutions (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambio & Co., 1854), pp. 11-12, Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb, 1840), p. 260, §442.

6. See, for example, “Obama says U.S., Turkey can be model for world,” CNN, April 6, 2009; David Brody, The Brody File, “Exclusive: Barack Obama E-mails the Brody File,” CBN News, July 29, 2007; Aaron Klein, “Obama: America is ‘no longer Christian’,” WorldNetDaily, June 22, 2008; and so forth.

7. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, pp. 45-46, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.

8. Ferdinand Cowle Iglehart, D.D., Theodore Roosevelt, The Man As I Knew Him (New York: The Christian Herald, 1919), p. 307.

9. Paul M. Pearson and Philip M. Hicks, Extemporaneous Speaking (New York: Hinds, Noble & Eldredge, 1912), 177, printing Woodrow Wilson, “The Bible and Progress;” The Homiletic Review: An International Monthly Magazine of Current Religious Thought, Sermonic Literature and Discussion of Practical Issues (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1911), Vol. LXII, p. 238, printing Woodrow Wilson, “The Bible and Progress,” May 7, 1911.

10. Herbert Hoover, “Radio Address to the Nation on Unemployment Relief,” American Presidency Project, October 18, 1931.

11. Harry S. Truman, “Exchange of Messages With Pope Pius XII,” American Presidency Project, August 28, 1947.

12. Richard Nixon, “Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast,” American Presidency Project, February 1st, 1972.

13. Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Barbara Oberg, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), Vol. 30, p. 545, to Gouverneur Morris on November 1, 1801.

14. See, for example, Bishop Claggett’s (Episcopal Bishop of Maryland) letter of February 18, 1801, available in the Maryland Diocesan Archives; The First Forty Years of Washington Society, Galliard Hunt, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 13; William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, to Joseph Torrey, January 3, 1803, and p. 113, his entry of December 12, 1802; James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 84.

15. William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, in a letter to Dr. Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803; see also his entry of December 26, 1802 (Vol. II, p. 114).

16. See, for example, Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U.S. 457, 465, 470-471 (1892); City Council of Charleston v. S.A. Benjamin, 2 Strob. 508, 518-520 (S.C. 1846); State v. Ambs, 20 Mo. 214, 1854 WL 4543 (Mo. 1854); Neal v. Crew, 12 Ga. 93, 1852 WL 1390 (1852); Doremus v. Bd. of Educ., 71 A.2d 732, 7 N.J. Super. 442 (1950); State v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co., 143 S.W. 785, 803 (Mo. 1912); and many others.

17. Ex parte Newman, 9 Cal. 502, 509 (1858).

18. Hutson, Religion, p. 96, quoting from a handwritten history in possession of the Library of Congress, “Washington Parish, Washington City,” by Rev. Ethan Allen.

19. Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1854), pp. 6, 8.

20. The Reports of Committees of the Senate of the United States for the Second Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852-53 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, 1853), p. 3.

21. Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States: Being the First Session of the Thirty-Fourth Congress (Washington: Cornelius Wendell, 1855), p. 354, January 23, 1856. See also Lorenzo D. Johnson, Chaplains of the General Government With Objections to their Employment Considered (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., 1856), p. 35.

22. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America Being the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1863), p. 379, March 2, 1863.

23. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1863), pp. 378-379, March 2, 1863.

24. Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day (March 30, 1863) on the WallBuilders website as originally printed in The Liberator on April 24, 1863.

25. A May 2016 Bing search for this proclamation resulted in 400,000+ hits.

26. Dictionary of American Biography, Dumas Malone, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), Vol. 18, p. 106, “Story, Joseph.”

27. Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, pp. 8, 92.

28. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hillard, Gray, and Company, 1833), Vol. III, p. 724, § 1867.

29. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 639.

30. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 12.

31. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 11.

32. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905).

33. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), pp. 40, 46.

34. “Breakfast in Washington,” Time, February 15, 1954.

35. Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U. S. 126, 198 (1844).

36. U.S. v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 625 (1931).

37. Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U. S. 457, 465, 470-471 (1892).

38. See for example, Warren v. U.S., 177 F.2d 596 (10th Cir. 1949); U.S. v. Girouard, 149 F.2d 760 (1st Cir.1945); Steiner v. Darby, Parker v. Los Angeles County, 199 P.2d 429 (Cal. App. 2d Dist 1948); Vogel v. County of Los Angeles, 434 P.2d 961 (1967).

39. Harry S. Truman, “Exchange of Messages with Pope Pius XII,” American Presidency Project, August 6, 1947.

40. Jeff Jacoby, “The freedom not to say ‘amen’,” Jewish World Review, February 1, 2001.

41. Aaron Zelman, “An open letter to my Christian friends,” Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

42. Dennis Prager, “America founded to be free, not secular,” Townhall.com, January 3, 2007.

43. Dennis Prager, “Books, Arts & Manners: God & His Enemies – Review,” BNet, March 22, 1999.

44. Don Feder, A Jewish Conservative Looks at Pagan America (Lafayette: Huntington House Publishers, 1993), pp. 59-60.

45. Don Feder, “Yes – Once and For All – American is a Christian Nation,” DonFeder.com, February 16, 2005.

46. Don Feder, “The Jewish Case for Merry Christmas,” Front Page Magazine, December 7, 2006.

47. Michael Medved, “The Founders Intended a Christian, not Secular, Society,” Townhall.com, October 3, 2007.

48. Burt Prelutsky, “The Jewish grinch who stole Christmas,” Townhall.com, December 11, 2006.

49. Daniel Lapin, America’s Real War (Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 1999), p. 116.

50. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, “A Rabbi’s Call to American Christians – Wake Up! You’re Under Attack,” End Time Prophetic Division, January 19, 2007.

51. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, “Which Jews does the ADL really represent?” WorldNetDaily, August 25, 2006.

52. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U. S. 38, 106-107 (1984), Rehnquist, J. (dissenting). [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Is America a Christian Nation?


First Dallas with Mike Huckabee | September 27, 2020


5 Blessings For Those Who Wait On God!

May 8, 2020 hephzibahgarden

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalms‬ ‭16:8‬

Those who waited patiently upon the Lord have only been strengthened by Him! Their faces were never put to shame. When God promises something, He fulfils it as well because great is His faithfulness towards man! The psalmist says :

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalms‬ ‭27:14

Moving on, let’s now look at the Blessings That Await Those Who Set The Lord Before Them —

1. They will never be moved – Psalms 16:8. Already mentioned in our key verse. No matter what situation or problem or trouble may creep up, those who have set the Lord before them always, will never be moved.

2. They will be at Rest – At one point during the journey of the Israelites, we see the Lord speaking with Moses face to face, just as a friend speaks with his friend. During the conversation, Moses says – Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. Exodus‬ ‭33:13‬. The Lord assures Moses that His presence would go with them a and give them Rest! Praise God!

The Lord is promising you Rest from your burdens, enemies, sorrows and struggles, TODAY! Believe and Receive! ✨

3. They will walk on the Sea – Peter believed and stepped out of the boat by faith. He saw his Master before him and wished to walk on the waters just like Him! Well, his desire was granted and Jesus said – Come! Peter did take a few steps on the water, but the moment his eyes turned away from Jesus, he began drowning. Sea refers to the world, cares of this life and everything associated with it.

4. They will run the race – The Christian lifestyle is compared with running a race. All those who have taken Jesus as their personal Saviour, are already running this marathon race called Life, wherein, in the end they will be rewarded. However, remember — we are not alone because our Saviour is there along with us to help us run faithfully till the end.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬.

5. They will build and dwell – Moses was faithful in the house of God, but only as a ministering servant. He worked diligently and did everything that the Lord asked him to. Hebrews 3:2. However Jesus was faithful as a Son over His Father’s house – whose house we are! Hebrews 3:6.

A son has more right to his father’s house than a servant. We are the house of God. Therefore, if we hold fast our confidence and rejoicing in Him by keeping Him before us, we sure can build and dwell in our Father’s house! May the Lord help us! ❤️

 

Original here

Quick Devotional on Worry

Note: I want to return to this some day to a study on Matthew 6 but here’s the study for tonight.

Quick Devotional on Worry

Matthew 6:25-34

 

Establishing the need: What do you worry about during the week?  This passage addresses the problem of worrying.  We can worry a lot about life, work, relationship and marriage.  We also worry about not having work, relationship and marriage.  Yet Jesus tells us not to worry in the beginning of this paragraph (v.25) and at the end of the paragraph (v.34); yet how should we not worry?

Purpose: Two helpful practices in dealing with the worries in our lives:

  • Asking the right questions
  • Looking at the world through Jesus’ eyes

 

Asking the right questions

  1. Question #1: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (25b)
    1. Jesus here talks about food and clothing.
    2. While food and clothing are important Jesus here is asking His listeners whether there is more to life than just food and clothing.
    3. Sometimes what we worry about makes life only about our problem; but life is more than what we are anxious about.
  2. Question #2: “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (27)
    1. Jesus’ question here should make us realize that worrying is not helpful.
    2. Worrying by itself does not change our situation. We need to realize this.
    3. Worrying is also counter-productive. We need to keep this in mind.
    4. Instead we take our worries to God in prayer!
  3. Question #3: The last one is not really a question in the text but it is good to phrase it as a question worth asking: Doesn’t “Each day has enough trouble of its own”? (34)
    1. God allows you each trials for each day; don’t go faster than God.
    2. Take it one day at a time, turning to God for help along the way.

 

Looking at the world through Jesus’ eyes

  1. Look at the Birds: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (26)
    1. See the birds and realize God takes care of them.
    2. Yet how much more precious are we to God and how much more should we realize that He will care for us.
  2. Look at the lilies: “Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?” (28b-30)
    1. See the lilies in the field and realize God takes care of them.
    2. Yet how much more precious are we to God and how much more should we realize that He will care for us.
  3. Look to God: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (33)
    1. Look for God first before anything else; God is what you need the most.
    2. God has provided the most important thing we need: Being right with God and a way to go to heaven by trusting in Christ dying for our sins. Will we not seek Him first since He loved us and save us?

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/quick-devotional-on-worry/

What Are Some Of The Effects Of Pride?

March 3, 2020 hepsibahgarden

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy‬ ‭6:10‬

We know a seed does not grow up into a plant 🌱 almost immediately. Before the plant comes up, the first to come out of the seed is the root which slowly penetrates and spreads into the soil. Likewise if the love of money is the root of all evil, we can infer then that this evil comes from the seed — PRIDE.

  • The two most basic reasons why Israelites left God and pursued strange gods were — doing their own will and stubbornness. Judges 2:19. Both of them come from pride, which makes a person evil in God’s sight. In the mind and plan of God, there was no hell. However later on, hell/everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels. Mathew 25:41. Pride made them to fall.
  • God in His wisdom made man out of the dust of the ground; not of the dust of the Garden of Eden. If it would have been so, man would have boasted of being created out of a special dust. Also, had God created man on the first day of Creation, he would have again boasted about helping God with the other days of Creation. Just like blood flows through the veins from our head to toe, pride and it’s evil natures flows in through man. Pride brought disobedience in the first man.
  • Pride will make us to blame others. When God asked Adam if he ate of the forbidden fruit, he quickly put the blame on Eve and even accused God for giving him her. That’s what pride does to a person; that person will not own up to the fault they did, but would rather blame everyone else for it.

May the Lord help us to remain humble and be found at His throne of Grace.

Be blessed 💕

 

Original here

Over 260 Massachusetts Clergy Urge Governor to Declare Churches ‘Essential

church worship faith christianity
DR. SUSAN BERRY 8 May 2020

A coalition of more than 260 Massachusetts clergy sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker (R) Thursday, urging him to recognize churches as “essential” and to include them in the first “reopening” phase in the state.

Massachusetts Family Institute sent the letter and a press release in an email to Breitbart News.

“We recognize the risks and uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, and the extraordinary measures we are all having to take, and we have continued to serve, especially in feeding the hungry and comforting the many who are suffering now,” read the letter sent to Baker and members of his Reopening Advisory Board.

The clergy members, mostly Protestant pastors along with several Catholic priests, expressed disappointment that the governor’s executive order regarding the coronavirus lockdown banned religious services at which more than ten people are present.

They are requesting that churches be “swiftly and publicly” acknowledged as “essential” and that “they be included in the first phase of the reopening on May 18,” stated the press release.

“[C]hurch IS essential for us,” the clergy members wrote. “Your order of March 23rd would forbid us from gathering together to worship God, but the word of God commands us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We have done our best to temporarily adapt to extraordinary circumstances, but this must not continue.”

The faith leaders continued in expressing their discontent that “marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and abortion clinics have all been deemed ‘essential,’ but churches and other places of worship have not.”

They also reminded Baker and the members of his advisory board that the freedoms of religion and assembly are protected by both the U.S. and Massachusetts Constitutions.

The signers added:

When the phased reopening of our Commonwealth begins, the reopening of our churches must be in the first phase. It is upsetting that, unlike roughly half the states across our nation, churches in Massachusetts were not deemed “essential” at the outset, but this must come to an end. This is consistent with the federal guidelines for a phased reopening, where in phase one, “places of worship can operate under strict physical distancing protocols.”

The clergy noted they are “fully prepared to exercise extraordinary care and precaution” to protect the health of their congregations through the use of social distancing, “just as other businesses Massachusetts has deemed essential.”

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/05/08/over-260-massachusetts-clergy-urge-governor-to-declare-churches-essential/



Related

https://narrowpathministries.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/churches-are-essential-3000-ca-churches-to-open-by-pentecost/

https://www.christianpost.com/news/3000-calif-churches-vow-to-reopen-on-pentecost-sunday-regardless-of-gov-orders.html

Attending places of worship is defined as an essential activity, AZ Governor.

Click to access guidance_for_places_of_worship.pdf

 

Vice President Mike Pence Meets With Religious Leaders In Iowa

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a discussion with local faith leaders to encourage them to resume in-person church services in a responsible fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Urbandale, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:05 PM PT — Friday, May 8, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence met with a group of faith leaders in Iowa this week to discuss the importance of religious institutions amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, he thanked religious leaders in Des Moines and said they have made an incalculable difference on the nation during these challenging times.

He also noted social distancing measures prohibiting parishioners from congregating have been a burden on churches.

The vice president said he hopes these leaders will continue efforts as states prepare to reopen, stressing it will help strengthen the country.

“The importance of now being able to reopen America, a priority that the president put forward two weeks ago…, includes the importance of opening up the institutions that strengthen the heart and soul of the American people,” stated Pence.

Vice President Mike Pence listens to a question from Temple B’nai Jeshurun Rabbi David Kaufman, left, during a discussion with local faith leaders to encourage them to resume in-person church services in a responsible fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Urbandale, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

While some leaders argued it is too early to start opening up churches, others confirmed they will begin services within the coming weeks.

Original here

OR Churches Sue Gov. Kate Brown Over Extended Stay-At-Home Orders

FILE – In this July 1, 2019, file photo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks with the media at the Capitol in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Sarah Zimmerman, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:23 PM PT — Friday, May 8, 2020

Oregon churches have filed a lawsuit against Governor Kate Brown, claiming social distancing orders infringed on their religious liberty. According to reports, 10 places of worship across the state are calling for a restraining order against ongoing restrictions that ban in-person services.

This came after the Democrat governor moved to allow gatherings of up to 25 people on Thursday.

However, church leaders argued this was not enough, especially for those with hundreds of regular attendees. The group’s lawyer has said Oregonians are tired of their constitutional rights being trampled on.

“Churches and church goers are not willing to let constitutionally protected religious rights be infringed upon indefinitely,” stated attorney Ray Hacke. “We’re hoping that they will be invalidated and that she will be enjoined from enforcing them.”

He went on to say Governor Brown failed to get proper approval from the state’s legislature to extend the stay-at-home order past 30 days.

WATCH: Pastor Rodriguez: We Have To Put Fear Of God In Governors Who Attempt To Shut Down Churches

Original here


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