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Bible_Study_Guys's Journal: Topic #3: Obedience 9

Journal by Bible_Study_Guys
Preface: I apologize for the delay in getting this topic out. There are many things going on in our lives right now. I wanted to discuss Obedience in this topic. I will start out with the story of Jonah. Most of you know the story, but often we don't think of what it means. Many times I have questioned why God would want me to do what I thought He was telling me to. Sometime, I would refuse simply because I couldn't see His motive. I have learned however, that sometimes the reason He asks us to do something is simply so we will be obey.

Obedience to God:
Jonah 1
1. Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
15. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
17. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 3
2. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
10. 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.

As we see in the first verse, this was God talking to Jonah. In the second verse, He tells Jonah where to go. Ninevah was the capitol of Assyria. Jonah is to go there and "cry against it." Jonah was supposed to go to Ninevah and show them that they were living in a way that angered God, and urge them to cease their "wickedness." It is important to note that Ninevah was notorious for killing missionaries, and they didn't like Christians. As we see in the 3rd verse, Jonah didn't obey. Instead, he decided to go to Joppa and catch a boat to Tarshish, rather than go to Ninevah. Tarshish is a Sanscrit or Aryan word, meaning "the sea coast." It was a city on the coast, probably in what is now Spain. Almost everywhere Tarshish is mentioned in the Bible, it is referencing it's great wealth and many ships. The sea started raging and as we see in the 15th and 17th verses, Jonah was cast into the sea for his disobedience, but even in his punishment, God took care of him. God prepared a "Great Fish," which we usually assume to be a whale, to swallow him so that he wouldn't die. Jonah would not have had to go through this if he had trusted God. As we see in the verses from Chapter 3, he did finally go to Ninevah, and the people repented, and God did not destroy them.

Obedience to Authority Figures:
Numbers 27

15. And Moses spake unto the Lord, saying,
16. Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
17. Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
20. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

These verses in Numbers tell us that God has set the pastor up to have authority over the church. This also applies to other authority figures. The Bible also tell us to be obedient to the laws of the land (Render unto caesar what is caesar's...)

TechnoLust's thoughts:
Jonah probably doubted God when it came to going to Ninevah. He probably thought, "Those people will never repent. They'll just kill me as soon as I walk into the city. Even if they do let me talk, I'm not a great preacher that can reach an entire city." These are usually the things we use to rationalize our disobedience: Doubting God, fear of others opinions, and doubting self. Had Jonah just obeyed, he would have had a much better experience. It tells us in Gen. 22:18 that Abraham was blessed because he heard and obeyed the Lord's voice.

I haven't heard from glh or Eugene, so they may add to this later, or post an addendum, or just participate in the discussion.

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Topic #3: Obedience

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  • by Chacham (981)
    It is important to note that Ninevah was notorious for killing missionaries, and they didn't like Christians.

    No, it really isn't that important. This happened hundreds of years before Christians came about.

    Instead, he decided to go to Joppa and catch a boat to Tarshish, rather than go to Ninevah.

    More specifically, he wanted to get ou of Israel, assuming that he wouldn't get the prophessy there. This is inherent in the latter part of the verse, "from the presence of the Lord.". Is there a place where one can escape His presence? No, there isn't. So, this obviously refers to a special form of presence, and that is the Land of Israel.

    Jonah was cast into the sea for his disobedience,

    Not really. He was cast into the sea so the others on the ship wouldn't die.

    Jonah would not have had to go through this if he had trusted God.

    Huh? He did trust Him. If he didn't, how could he possibly be a prophet? To live in a fish is a miracle. If anything, Jonah became a better person from experiencing this miracle.

    You can say, however, that Jonah would probably not have gone through this had he gone to Ninevah right away.

    These verses in Numbers tell us that God has set the pastor up to have authority over the church.

    Where does it say that? All it says is that G-d will appoint a leader. In fact, this leader must be appointed from a previous leader. Moses to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to the Judges, and so on. For a detailed list, see the Mishnah (Avos).

    This transition was kept until somwhere around 500 CE (I don't know the year, so I am guessing a bit.) The Jews as a nation kept this tradition going (of leader to leader all the way back to Moses from G-d) until, the Romans killed many such leaders and made harsh decrees against any who did this. By 150 CE there were very few such people. Later, with more Roman decrees and Christian prosecution of Jews in Israel, it came to its bitter end.

    This also applies to other authority figures.

    I don't see why.

    The Bible also tell us to be obedient to the laws of the land (Render unto caesar what is caesar's...)

    Actually, when going into Israel, the Bible specifically states *not* to listen to the laws. In fact, it says to wipe out all vestiges of them.

    He probably thought, "Those people will never repent. They'll just kill me as soon as I walk into the city. Even if they do let me talk, I'm not a great preacher that can reach an entire city."

    Nah, he actually knew that they *would* repent. But, if they did, G-d wouldn't do anything to them, and that might cause them to believe that G-d is a joke.

    Imagine if a guy walked up to you and told you that G-d would strike you down in five minutes unless you say, "I believe in G-d". So, you say it, and five minutes later nothing happens. Will you say, "wow, I was saved", or will you say, "wow, what a nut"?

    There is even a previous case of this. When G-d said to Moses, to let him start a new nation from him, Moses said what a disgrace to G-d that would be. Jonah seemed to be worried about a similar thing too. Certainly Jonah would normally do what G-d said. He was a prohet, and that is very special.
    • This happened hundreds of years before Christians came about.
      My bad... it was late. I meant to write something to the effect that they didn't like religious people...

      I still think it was important to note this. I think Jonah would have been a lot more willing to go somewhere if he thought he would be well received.

      Not really. He was cast into the sea so the others on the ship wouldn't die.
      Why were they going to die? Because of his disobedience... so, indirectly, he was thrown into the sea because of his disobedience.

      Where does it say that? All it says is that G-d will appoint a leader.
      Here you imply that the leader isn't neccessarily the pastor, but then later (I don't see why.) you seem to imply it only applies to pastors. The word used is congregations, so one immediately thinks of a church, but really that could refer to any group. Why would God put a leader over a group if He did not expect us to follow them?

      Nah, he actually knew that they *would* repent.
      Well, he was frustrated when they did repent and God didn't punish them, although I don't know if he knew beforehand or not.

      Imagine if a guy walked up to you and told you that G-d would strike you down in five minutes unless you say, "I believe in G-d". So, you say it, and five minutes later nothing happens. I would probably not say it, because God doesn't work like this. After the five minutes was up, I would tell him that I do believe in God, but that God doesn't work that way, then say, "What a nut."

      • I think Jonah would have been a lot more willing to go some where if he thought he would be well received.

        Why? I wouldn't put Jonah, someone great enough that G-d speaks to and sends on important missions, to be so mundane as to care whether they will accept him or not.

        Here you imply that the leader isn't neccessarily the pastor, but then later (I don't see why.) you seem to imply it only applies to pastors. The word used is congregations, so one immediately thinks of a church, but really that could refer to any group. Why would God put a leader over a group if He did not expect us to follow them?

        Good point, I was unclear.

        There are two types of leaders. A forced leader, who noone wants but he enforces his will, and a loved leader, who needs no force for people to listen. Moses asked for a leader to give guidance. So, if the nation was one, then there should be one leader, and people would be expected to follow him. Otherwise, there can be many people able to lead, but noone actually has to listen to them. That's where pastor's fit in. What I took issue with was your noting that people *must* listen to them. I don't think they need to, just that they are there to offer guidance should one care to ask.

        • I can't speak for Jonah, but I know that God speaks to me, and has asked me to do things before, and I try to do them, but if God asked me to go to a different country BY MYSELF and I knew I could be killed... It would be harder for me to do it. Jonah, was a great man, but he was after all, still a man.

          As for the pastors, of course, you don't HAVE to listen to them, you can always leave. The issue I was thinking about when writing that was when churches hold secret votes and decide to remove pastors. There have been a few cases around here where a certain group tried to remove the pastor and it failed, so they revoted and stacked the vote (calling inactive and even non members in on a night when many of the supporters were gone) and some even resorted to threats. When a pastor does something major, then yes, the church should remove him, but in this situation, several people just didn't like what he was preaching. The Bible was written for God's people, but sometimes we use it to judge others without applying it to our own lives.

          So basically, assuming the pastor IS put there by God, they must listen to him or leave. (And I'm speaking of spiritual leadership, not that he should tell you what car to buy.) Otherwise, what is the point of having a leader?

          • Otherwise, what is the point of having a leader?

            To offer insight to those who may not otherwise see.
      • The Assyrians were known for killing their enemies pretty brutally, but I think it was more that he was hoping God would judge them. Think of your response if God called you to go to Afghanistan and preach repentance to Osama on Sept 12th of last year. Remember that Israel had recently been conqured by this country.
  • by belloc (37430)
    These verses in Numbers tell us that God has set the pastor up to have authority over the church. This also applies to other authority figures. The Bible also tell us to be obedient to the laws of the land (Render unto caesar what is caesar's...)

    I'm curious: how do you apply this principle to a situation like Luther and the 95 Theses? He was a Christian monk with a very clear and set spiritual/religious hierarchy in his order. Is there a place for disobedience when you disagree with your superiors? The 20,000+ Christian denominations give evidence that most Christians think so. If there is no place for disobedience, what justified Luther's? If there is, what are the principles of disobedience in general? How do you know when to be obedient?

    As a footnote, I just came across your Bible study/journal this afternoon, and I must say that I'm intrigued by it in several respects. As far as the structure goes, a Bible study is somewhat of an extension of the Slash framework, but it might be a good one. As to content: it's nice to see some non-materialist voices emerge from the creaky corners here. I get tired of reading poorly thought-out positions by the typical Slashclones after a while.

    Belloc
    • I too am just discovering this "journal". Luther first posted the 95 theses for him to discuss the ideas with other scholars. The superiors ended up not being interested in discussion or in reform. Luther at the Diet of Worms said that if it can be shown by scripture alone that he was wrong he would recant. And so the Reformation was born.

      Now should Luther had listened to his superiors? From Acts 4:19 Peter and John say they must obey God over their "superiors". Unfortunately the Devil has twisted it so that at any minor disagreement a church splits. We must be very careful and quite certain to disobey an authority. It is only when they are requiring you to disobey God should you disobey the authority.

      An example in history where many Christians should have disobeyed the government (instead of a few) but did not is Nazi Germany. Horrible things happened because of it.
  • by nege (263655)
    All ive got to say is....props to you for bringing this up on a site like slashdot, where you will likely get flamed into next week. Bravo! I really respect this.

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