“Salvation Belongs to the LORD!”

“Salvation Belongs to the LORD!”

Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish.  That alone is enough to give us pause.  What is more amazing about all of this is that after three days and three nights the fish spit him back out.  Even with all of this said, that is not the main focus of Jonah chapter 2.  

Ernest Hemingway and Herman Melville have written books detailing a great fish and a great whale respectively, in which the fish or whale take a central place.  But the book of Jonah is different.  For one, the events in Jonah are real historical events.  Jonah was actually swallowed up and spit out by this fish at a real time in history, yet still, the fish is not the central theme of chapter 2.  Rather, the One who is central is Jonah’s God. 

In the first chapter of Jonah, we see that Jonah flees from his God, but his God pursues him.  God is sovereign over all things, even over His prophet who is fleeing from His commands. Jonah was called to go to the people of Nineveh but ran away–he sought to chart out his own course.  But God sent a storm to rage on the sea which Jonah was attempting to use as an escape route.  Jonah was tossed into the sea to cause the storm to cease from its raging.  But this was not the end of Jonah.

Jonah 1:17 says, “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.  And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”  This fish was appointed by God to swallow up Jonah in order that Jonah would live.  And in the belly of this fish, we see in chapter 2, Jonah calls out to God.  In Jonah’s prayer we see the power and the sovereignty of Jonah’s God, and we also see the faithfulness of God to deliver His people.  We see especially that God is absolutely sovereign in the salvation of His people: “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9)  This is a truth that comforted Jonah’s soul once again, and the truth that many have noted is the theme that runs through the entire book of Jonah.  Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights also points us to the one who died for sinners and on the third Day was raised from death. It is there, in the death of Christ for sinners and His victorious resurrection that we see most clearly that “Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Would you join us this Lord’s Day for worship at 5 PM at The Commons at St. Andrews Church at 8300 Kanis Rd. in Little Rock as we consider these truths together?  Click here for directions, or contact us for more information.  You can also join us on FacebookLive@RiverCityARP or on YouTube.

Photo by Giga Khurtsilava on Unsplash

A Fleeing Prophet and His Sovereign God

A Fleeing Prophet and His Sovereign God

When the book of Jonah comes to mind, you likely immediately think of the fish that swallowed him up.  This is a familiar book, and if  you grew up in church, it is one that you probably learned of early on in Sunday school classes.  But even more significant than the fish that swallows Jonah is the God who appoints the fish.  

Jonah was a prophet in Israel who was greatly concerned over the condition of his people.  We have reason to believe he took great zeal in being a prophet to his people.  And yet in the book of Jonah, he is called to go to a different people.  He is called to go to the people of Nineveh; he is called to go to the Gentiles.  Nineveh is a Gentile city that is actually known for its rebellion and sinfulness.  But one of the great themes we see in this book is that God is merciful to the Gentiles.  Christ would come as the Savior of both Jew and Gentile, and in this book we see that even in the Old Testament God shows mercy to both Jew and Gentile.  

God commands Jonah to go: “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’”  But the text goes on to detail Jonah’s fleeing from God and His call.  He believes he can run away from God.  

What we see throughout this chapter and the book however, is that God is sovereign. God is not finished with Jonah, and in His sovereignty He pursues him, and He shows mercy to him.  That mercy comes through discipline, but Jonah is shown the grace of God.  Believer, the God who is sovereign in salvation in this book is also sovereign over your salvation.  If you are His, it is because He has pursued you and brought you to Himself.  Will you join us for worship at 5 PM this Lord’s Day evening at The Commons at St. Andrews Church as we begin our study of this great book?  For directions, click here, or contact us for more information. You can also join us at FacebookLive@RiverCityARP or on YouTube.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

John the Baptist and Jesus

John the Baptist and Jesus

John the Baptist is considered the final Old Testament prophet.  Though he is written about in the New Testament and lived at the same time as Jesus, he functions as the last Old Testament prophet pointing the way to Christ.  As he fulfills this role, many have begun to wonder if John himself is the Christ, or if he is possibly one of the older prophets living again to prophesy once more. 

History is full of those who would falsely claim to be the Messiah.  The pride of the human heart is such that it is not hard to imagine one boasting in being mistaken for the Christ.  We often desire to see ourselves as more than we are, and we often desire for others to think we are greater than we are.  Some of the most tragic events in history have been tied to those who would falsely claim divinity.  But John the Baptist would have none of this.  He knew that he was being used of God to point the way to the One who was truly Great.  He pointed to the One who was Prophet, Priest and King.  He pointed to “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:30)  John would even refer to Jesus as one “the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27)  John the Baptist had appropriately contrasted himself with Jesus, and knew that Jesus was also his Savior.  He did not want others to seek salvation in his name, but he wanted them to seek salvation in the Name of Jesus. 

Have you sought salvation in Christ?  Join us as we discuss this further during worship this Lord’s Day, January 2, at 5 PM at The Commons at St. Andrews Church.  For directions, click here, or feel free to contact us for more information.  You can also join us on FacebookLive@RiverCityARP or on YouTube.

Photo by chris robert on Unsplash.

The Wrong Question

The Wrong Question

I was THAT kid in school.  The one who asked, “is there a maximum number of pages for this paper?” The one who pleaded for more, not fewer, graded assignments.  And the one who begged the teacher for essay questions rather than multiple choice.   My concern was not a zeal for learning, but an obsession with my grades – and more specifically my grade point average.   At any given moment, I could assess the effect of any graded assignment to my overall GPA.   

I did not trust multiple choice questions.   I second guessed and micro analyzed every question.  Not my answers, I felt confident of those.  What I feared was subtly in the questions themselves.   Surely a trap or a trick had been embedded into what appeared a simple query?  For indeed, this is what makes good multiple choice and true/false questions tick.   What if my teacher was not clever enough to get this right?  An essay allowed me to correct poorly crafted questions and clarify exactly what question I had answered.  

Tucked away in my anxiety closet was a large store of Atychiphobia – a fear of failure that takes on an extreme form.   What if I gave the right answer to the wrong question?   I would fail.  My GPA would drop.  My future would hang in the balance.  All hopes of future happiness and success would vanish.  Or so I thought.  Failing to spot a flawed question seemed to me catastrophic.   And answering the wrong question, even with the right answer, an irrecoverable misstep.  

Of course, no such plot existed.  The multiple choice and true/false questions had not been laced with poison logic or satanic subtlety.   All was as it appeared.  But the consequences of answering the wrong question manufactured for me considerable adolescent angst.   Most of us don’t rise to this level of concern about right and wrong questions.   We are simply concerned with right and wrong answers.  But what if I had been right to be afraid?  What if an irrecoverable misstep or eternal catastrophe did result from answering the wrong question, but never answering the right one?

The story of the wise men in Matthew 2 poses this conundrum vividly.  

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

MATTHEW 2:1-6

On the surface, the wise men and Herod seem to be asking the same question.   But closer examination reveals a great, but subtle, difference.   The wise men ask, “where is he, that we may worship him?”  Herod asks, “where is he, that I may manage him and preserve my own autonomy?”   All men ask these same two questions.  Believers seek him to worship him.   Skeptics seek him to manage, discredit, and remove him from his place in their lives.

What about you?  What is your question when it comes to Jesus?   Is it to find him and worship him?  Or to manage, discredit, and remove him from your life?   Or do you have no concern for him at all?   Questions about Jesus are inextricably tied to our own existential questions, whether we admit it or not.   When it comes to this test, to answer the wrong question is fatal.   The gospel enables us actually know Jesus, not merely know about him.   Are you asking the right questions?    Join us as we examine Matthew 2 and Micah 5:1-6 this week and consider the difference between asking right and wrong questions.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.