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    .

    ___________________________

    Theological Research Exchange Network

    (TREN)P.O. Box 30183

    Portland, Oregon 97294

    USA

    Website: www.tren.com

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Phone# 1-800-334-8736

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    RECIPE FOR ENHANCING HOLINESS

    Counseling Implications for Todays Women

    From the Minor Prophets

    By

    Deborah Hope Ross

    Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements

    For the degree of Master of Arts in

    Biblical Counseling

    The Masters CollegeSanta Clarita, California

    October 2003

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    Dedicated

    To

    Phillip,

    Christopher and Christchanna,

    Christyl

    Who have helped me learn to do justice,

    to love mercy,

    and to walk humbly with my God.

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    CONTENTS

    Menu

    Chapter

    1. INTRODUCTION: PREPARATION FOR THE RECIPE . . . . . . . . . 1

    2. JOEL: THE SIMMERING OF HEAVENLY REFLECTION . . . . . . . . 7

    3. OBADIAH: THE BASTING OF HUMILITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

    4. JONAH: THE KNEADING OF REPENTANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

    5. MICAH: THE PRECISENESS OF PRAYER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

    6. NAHUM: THE STIRRING OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD . . . . . . 53

    7. HABAKKUK: THE BROWNING OF TRUST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

    8. ZEPHANIAH: THE SAUTE OF WORSHIP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

    9. HAGGAI: THE BLENDING OF PRIORITIZED LIVING . . . . . . . . . 78

    10. MALACHI: THE MEASURE OF THE FEAR OF THE LORD . . . . . . 86

    11. BAKING TIME: SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

    12. DESSERT: COUNSELING CASE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

    13. SEASONINGS: HOMEWORK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

    Appendix

    BIBLOGRAPHY: COOKBOOK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118

    iv

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    CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION: PREPARATION FOR THE RECIPE

    O, taste and see that the LORD is good;

    How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!1

    A tantalizing aroma emanates from the kitchen where the main course meal is

    being prepared. It is arduous labor requiring thought, preparation, and toil for the final

    outcome. Taste buds finely tuned await the first morsel of appetizing cuisine. Then, as

    one partakes of the delicious meal especially prepared for her, an enjoyable sensation

    enfolds the entire body. Yes, it was worth waiting for this taste of delight. Spiritually,

    the tasting of God and His goodness becomes a similar satisfying experience. The

    anticipation of His work in ones heart fills ones life with joyous awareness.

    This spiritual recipe, like those of cooking recipes, heightens the outcome as only

    pure and essential ingredients are utilized. The recipe will enhance the readers holiness

    as she faithfully commits to partaking of each ingredient. For the best flavor, there must

    not be substitutions of the specific ingredients or the essence will be flat. Combine each

    component of this recipe together for true biblical holiness.

    Each chapter contains a different specific ingredient necessary for sanctification

    or holiness as guided by the individual prophets. As a by-product, the reader will be

    more familiar with the Minor Prophets and will heighten her spiritual taste buds for the

    fullness of this recipe. As a note of explanation, the Minor Prophets are called minor

    1Psalm 34:8. All Scripture is italicized and is from New American Standard Bible unless

    otherwise noted.

    1

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    2

    because their messages are shorter than the major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,

    and Daniel. They are not minor in any other sense. A treasure awaits the reader as she

    tastes the richness of their testimonies.

    To assemble the essential ingredients, preparation is necessary for this eternal

    recipe. Rather than using a cookbook or recipe book, one must turn to the Scriptures as

    the authority for truth and therefore the standard on which this recipe is based. In

    correctly interpreting the Scriptures, it is important to know the original audience relating

    to the present audience. The discussion of this original audience and the historical

    context will be featured in each chapter. Also, some of the terms used will need

    definition. An informed explanation of themes and a brief history of Israel lay a good

    foundation to the understanding of this material.

    Biblical counseling will be a featured aspect of this recipe and could be defined

    simply as biblical thinking based on biblical truth. The problems and difficulties of life

    become the opportunities to discern truth and discover where sin is at the core. A

    similarity exists between biblical counseling and peeling an onion. Each layer after layer

    is exposed until the center, the thought life (ones heart and mind), comes out into the

    open and can therefore be dealt with biblically. Gods Word through the power of the

    Holy Spirit is the tool for achieving the exposure of sin. It becomes apparent, then, that

    one must be familiar with Scriptures to know what and how to apply Gods Word to

    ones life. This recipe for holiness attempts to bring knowledge and application of a

    lesser-known portion of the Bible together for the purpose of benefiting the reader and

    glorifying the LORD.

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    3

    The ingredients for this flavorsome spiritual recipe define holiness. This holiness

    is achieved by the use of the Word of God in ones life (John 17:17), through trials and

    discipline (Heb 12: 10) and by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit (Titus

    2:3, 11, 12). Believers are called to holiness because God is holy (1 Pet 1:15-16), and He

    delights in holy walks (Mic 7:18).

    Cooking terms are employed throughout this work because it is a recipe. Each

    chapter has its own Seasonings or questions, which can be found at the conclusion of

    the paper (starting page 109). As seasonings add flavor to a recipe, so the seasonings

    will bring a pleasing aroma to the LORD as change is accomplished in the life of the

    reader through the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 2:14-15). These questions allow for the readers

    assimilation of the chapter material and for personal application to the readers life.

    Nutritional Value Facts will be recognized as footnotes with the purpose of crediting

    information from other writers. Within each chapter are Recipe Tips. Recipes often

    contain tips such as add flour to rolling pin before rolling out the dough, or spray pan

    with cooking spray so grease will not stick to the utensil. These tips enhance the recipe

    and improve ones cooking ability. The Recipe Tips are side notes to assist the reader in

    her biblical thinking, to provoke soul-searching, and taking the application to the heart.

    The chapter headings use familiar kitchen terms, reinforcing the principle of the main

    ingredient. For example, one chapter lists The Browning of Trust. Browning meat

    requires a slow process to yield flavor and aroma. So it is with trust. It requires a span of

    time to provide the optimum results of turning from self to God.

    There are numerous themes throughout the Minor Prophets. A basic under-

    standing of these topics will augment the enjoyment of these wonderful books. The

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    prophets based their prophecies on the Law given to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. The

    tenets of this Law and the requirements of the covenant are contained in Deuteronomy.

    A perusal of this important book will assist the reader in her understanding. The Temple

    in Jerusalem was the religious, economic, and national center in Israel. The priests who

    instructed the people in its application to their lives were part of this nucleus. Another

    element of the Temple worship was the sacrificial system, which was a daily routine for

    the Jewish people. The covenant relationship between God and His nation was the

    governing authority based on His Word. Israel was chosen by God to be a people set

    apart from pagan nations. To this end, the prophets spoke, seeking reconciliation for the

    people. God had not changed, nor His requirements, but the people had failed in their

    commitment to the LORD, seeking pagan idols as their source for deliverance. This

    duality of worship is a huge part of the prophets messages. The LORD spoke through

    these men to counsel His people that judgment had two sides; to bring about fearing

    (awe) the LORD and the fear (afraid) of repeating offenses. The Israelites worldly

    thinking defined their conduct and that human-based thought process led to destruction.

    The prophets point out Israels redemption by God (called the Exodus) that was a

    monumental event in Israels history (Exod 19 for Gods purpose). The themes of sin,

    judgment, and restoration find repetition throughout these chapters and the rest of

    Scripture. It rings true of the Gospel; the bad news being that every individual is a sinner

    (1 Kgs 8:46; Ps 143:2; Rom 3:23) and will be judged by God. However, the good news

    declares that God is willing to restore an individual if faith is placed in Jesus Christ (John

    3:16; Eph 2:8-9).

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    The history of Israel begins in Genesis with the call of Abraham (12:1-3). The

    Abrahamic covenant contained the promises of blessing, land, and a continual seed.

    After the Exodus, the Israelites settled in the Promised Land through the leadership of

    Joshua. The descendants of Abraham were told to occupy the land and remove the pagan

    nations. This they did not do. Rather, the Israelites adopted pagan ways and religions.

    The book of Judges chronicles the cycles of sin, repentance, and deliverance during this

    time. Gods chosen people wanted so much to be like the pagan nations that they asked

    God for a king, which He gave them in Saul, who refused obedience to the LORD.

    David, a man after Gods own heart, replaced Saul. Through David, the nation

    progressed spiritually, economically, and politically. Davids son, Solomon, took Israel

    to its zenith by extending its boundaries and producing wealth. The kingdom became

    divided due to Solomons sins (1 Kgs 11). Israel became known as the northern kingdom

    whose first king was Jeroboam I. The southern kingdom was referred to as Judah, with

    Rehoboam, Solomons son, as its king. Israel, the northern kingdom, had no kings who

    followed after the LORD and Judah only had eight. The Minor Prophets had their

    ministry during this divided kingdom era and the exile that followed.

    Israel and Judah had two chief enemies that played a considerable part in the

    prophets ministries. These enemies were Assyria, who was eventually overthrown by

    Babylon, the other adversary. God used these pagan nations as a means of judgment for

    His people and these nations in turn were judged for the part they played.

    The accounts of the prophets need to be taken seriously by the reader. God warns

    todays believing woman to take heed of the example of the Israelites. Their idol

    worship, immorality, complaining, and testing the LORD resulted in their wilderness

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    wanderings and death (1 Cor 10:1-12). This should motivate the reader to change her

    thinking, leading to change in behavior, not behavior modification. If not, check ones

    spiritual pulse as it may mean being spiritually dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1). One

    can be made alive spiritually through faith in Christ Jesus. It is only through His grace

    and not any merit of ones own that individuals are saved into Gods kingdom (Eph 2:8-

    9). Being spiritually alive means having a new nature within and a new way of thinking

    (2 Cor 5:17). The old thinking patterns have to be replaced so that one may live in a new

    manner of life that pleases the Lord (Eph 4:21-22). If the reader has not placed her faith

    in the Lord Jesus Christ, she will be unable to comprehend these truths and will be

    powerless to change her life.

    As with food recipes, tasting of the food finalizes the recipe. In the spiritual

    sense, the reader can taste and find great sweetness in the words of these prophets. With

    this in mind, dear reader, please prayerfully and faithfully partake of each ingredient so

    your holiness may be enhanced.

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    CHAPTER TWOJOEL: THE SIMMERING OF HEAVENLY REFLECTION

    Grandpas yard was coming alive! Flying, black, winged insects hovered upon

    the landscape. The constant droning permeated the air. Anything green was devoured,

    leaving only bare, brown stubble. These creatures blackened the sun, turning daylight

    into night. They came up from the ground and then returned to their cavernous depths.

    The prophet, Joel, heard and saw something similar to the above scenario. The

    locusts had come to Palestine and left a trail of destruction in their wake. Being directed

    by the Holy Spirit, Joel uses this calamity as a metaphor for sins wreckage on the human

    life. Jehoiada served as regent for Joash, the young king and sole survivor of his family

    dynasty (2 Kgs 11). The southern kingdom was in a time of spiritual renewal under the

    leadership of Jehoiada, the high priest. But, the people still refused to see their sin in the

    light of Gods holiness. Therefore, Joel aims his graphic, concise language at their

    stubborn hearts.

    The information regarding Joel is scant. The prophet gives no indication of being

    a priest, although his writing shows some familiarity with temple proceedings. His

    language is beautiful, clear, precise, and full of similes and metaphors to aid

    understanding. Certain thoughts and words, such as Blow atrumpet in Zion (Joel 2:1,

    15) are repeated for the sake of clarity and to promote interest and understanding.

    Joel frequently refers to the Day of the LORD, focusing his thoughts toward

    heaven. Even while he is mindful of what happens on this earth, his mind and heart are

    7

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    reflecting upon God. Joel set his mind on things of God, not man. Fixing ones mind on

    heavenly things, eternal aspects are the major focus of this chapter.

    Recipe Tip:Let your life on earth be a conversation in heaven, by the constant work of faith

    and love; even such a faith as maketh things future as now present, and the unseen world as if itwere continually open to your sight; and such a love as makes you long to see the glorious face of

    God.2 Believers need the perspective of seeing the trials through the lens of the future. Joseph wasable to look biblically at the difficulties. He knew that God was sovereign and therefore in charge

    of every detail that happened to him(Gen 50:20). Paul had this same perspective when he stated,If thenyou have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above whereChrist is seated at

    the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on thethings that are on the earth(Col 3:1-2). Biblically, the heart is the seat of the emotions, the will, and the intellect. So when

    commanded to set your mind, it also means heart.

    In cooking, simmering ingredients over low heat allows the flavor to be enhanced.

    The time involved in this process heightens the flavor of the food being prepared for

    consumption. Liquid is periodically added to the simmering process to maintain

    consistency. Take, for example, the preparing of stew, chili, or spaghetti sauce. If these

    dishes were brought to a quick boil, the flavor would be weak. However, if these meals

    were to simmer, the flavors would be enhanced, become stronger and combine together.

    Even so, as believers simmer thoughts on eternal things, their lives become flavored with

    Gods goodness. Ones spiritual walk becomes stronger through the time spent

    meditating on Gods Word. It is not an instant process, as that would lose flavor and the

    tasting of Gods goodness. From time to time, additional Scripture must be added to the

    thought life to preserve constancy. By this, it is meant to memorize additional Scripture,

    review that which is already committed to memory, continue with listening to sermons,

    and daily meditating on Gods Word. Believers need to daily practice preaching the

    gospel to themselves. This is accomplished with the Holy Spirits help that will aid the

    assurance of salvation, and bring to remembrance the union with Christ. To simmer

    2Richard Baxter,A Christian Directory (Morgan PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 153.

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    heavenly thoughts, selfish unbiblical thoughts must be exchanged for righteous thinking.

    How you speak and what you speak about also assists in heavenly thoughts. A heavenly

    mind-set sees life from the perspective of God rather than from mans viewpoint.

    Recipe Tip: In his book, The Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan addressed the importance ofheavenly mindedness. The main character, Christian, is with his friend, Hopeful on their spiritual

    journey. They come across Enchanted Ground, and Hopeful finds himself getting sleepy. Christian

    is quick to remedy the situation by stating the danger they would be in if they were to take a nap. So

    to keep awake, they decide to discuss things that would edify our spirits. For the next twochapters in the book, they keep on walking through the Enchanted Ground and maintain

    conversation that keeps them awake and aware. They discuss Hopefuls testimony, godly fear,

    righteousness, and those who have turned away from Christ. The point is, our conversation aids

    spiritual mindedness.3

    To promote this beneficial simmering effect, the book of Joel will be sectioned into three

    portions. The first simmering aspect is looking back (1:1-20). Second is looking at the

    near future (2:1-17), and third is looking ahead (2:28-3:21).

    I. Looking Back (Read 1:1-20)

    The LORD imparts His message to Judah via the prophet Joel (1:1: The word of

    the LORD that came to Joel). Disaster had struck the land, but Joel does not name this

    disaster until verse four. He really desires for his readers to heed what will be said, so he

    calls out to them Hear and listen (1:2: Hear this, O elders, and listen, all

    inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days or in your fathers

    days?) This is actually repetitive as hear implies remembering as well as listening.4

    Joel appeals to the senior citizens of the land because of their long life experience and

    urges them to pass on their knowledge to their progeny. The catastrophe that has come

    upon Israel is the first of its kind, and the lessons must be conveyed to future generations

    (1:3). After getting their attention by appealing to their memories, Joel paints a vivid

    3John Bunyan, The Pilgrims Progress, trans. Cheryl V. Ford (Wheaton IL: Tyndale House

    Publishers, Inc., 1999), 169-170.4David Allan Hubbard,Joel and Amos (Downers Grove IL: Intervarsity Press, 1989), 42.

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    picture of the devastation brought on by the locusts (1:4-7). He uses imagery in five

    different ways. These insects are pictured as gnawing, swarming, creeping, and

    stripping invaders. This does not refer to the different stages of locusts because the

    original language uses the same term for locust in each case (1:4-6). They have wrecked

    ruin throughout the land as gardens are shorn bare of fruit, leaves, and outer bark (1:7: It

    has made my vine a waste, and my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast

    them away). Joel continues to coat his picture with broad strokes so that the devastation

    will shock the people. He mentions drunkards because of the vines being destroyed so

    their wine would not be available (1:5: Awake, drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you

    wine drinkers, on account of the sweet wine that is cut off from your mouth). By using

    the term Awake, Joel references their drunken stupor, not sleep. This locust plague

    was similar to the one sent to Egypt. According to Scriptures, that plague was the worst

    in history (Exod 10:14-15). God designed the Egyptian plague to humble Pharaoh and

    Egypt. The locust invasion of Joel came for the identical reason: to humble Judah.

    A call to mourn goes throughout the land. Drunkards (1:5), priests (1:9, 13),

    farmers (1:11), and the nation symbolized by a virgin (1:8) are called to repent. Because

    of the thoroughness of the locusts, sacrifices had ceased (1:13: for the grain offering

    and the libation are withheld from the house of your God). Offerings were eliminated

    as a result of the absence of grain and wine (Lev 2; 6:14-23). The nations sin has caused

    a very sad state of affairs. Their offerings symbolized daily fellowship with God but had

    become a corrupted and empty ritual. The people recognized Gods displeasure with

    them as the vine and fig tree, symbols of Gods blessing, were ruined (1:12). So the

    prophet calls them to repent and mourn over their sin (1:13-14: Come, spend the night in

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    sackclothConsecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the

    inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD).

    If there is no repentance, then further judgment will arrive (1:15). Possibly the people

    were thinking it could not get worse. Yet, Joel delineates how devastating it could get

    (1:16-20). He attempts to wake them out of their spiritual lethargy so that they will

    confess their sins, repent, and rejoice in the blessings of the LORD. The prophet changes

    his sarcastic tone to plead with God due to the situation of the land and the hardness of

    the peoples heart (1:19-20: To thee, O LORD, I cry). He asserts that even the animals

    yearned for the LORD more than the people. The people of Judah failed to guard their

    hearts leading to spiritual laziness and hardness in their souls.

    Recipe Tip: How do you know when your heart is hardened? How do we discern spirituallethargy? By taking a spiritual checkup, the condition of the heart can be discovered. This is what

    Joel tried to achieve with his people. Some areas to examine are: humility versus pride (Isa 57:15),seeking after knowledge and truth (Matt 5:6), and level of peace, joy and contentment (Hab 3:17-19)

    and ruling out bitterness (Heb 12:15). Questions to be answered by the patient: Am I willing to

    repent of the sin shown by the Holy Spirit (Ps 139:23-24)? Do I desire Christ above all else? Am I

    willing to obey even when I do not understand? Am I pursuing holiness in my life? If the answersare yes, then you are pursuing holiness with all diligence. If the answer to any of the questions

    was no, then there is problem needing biblical solution. Watch over your heart with all diligence,

    for from it flow the springs of spiritual welfare (Prov 4:23.) Therefore, be honest in the spiritualcheckup. If you find any of the above areas showing weakness, then strengthen them by the Word

    of God applied daily.

    II. Looking at the Near Future (Read 2:1-27)

    The assault of the locusts now takes on a figurative form of the invading armies of

    other nations. The shofar (rams horn) blasted from the corner of the Temple in

    Jerusalem to signify danger and to call assembly of the people (2:1, 15). The Day of the

    LORD has now arrived. As the locust invasion meant darkness and despair, so the time

    of judgment would mean the same. Joel uses four different words (darkness, gloom,

    clouds, and thick) to describe the dark (2:2: A day of darkness and gloom, a day of

    clouds and thick darkness, as the dawn is spread over the mounts, so there is a great and

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    mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it).

    The invaders are identified as an army of great strength (2:2) named the army of the

    LORD (His army 2:11). In the further verses, Joel puts forth a more detailed

    description of this army (2:4-5). Like the locusts that swarm in an orderly fashion, this

    army will come in rank and file and not deviate from its purpose (2:7-9: and they each

    march in line, nor do they deviate from their pathsthey do not break ranks) . The

    outcome is assured because of the might and majesty of the LORD God (2:10-11). This

    awesome display of power contrasts to the Lords tender compassion yearning for His

    people to repent (2:12-13, Yet even now, declares the LORD, return to Me with all

    your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your heart and not your

    garments. Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate,

    slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil). True repentance

    involves a wholehearted return to the LORD and brokenness over ones sin.

    Lovingkindness, an astounding term, combines the mercy and the redemptive grace of

    God. The extent of the LORDs concern for the welfare of man is so unfathomable, He is

    willing to forgive.5

    Thinking on these qualities of God (lovingkindness, mercy, and

    grace) leads believers to heavenly mindedness that affects all areas of life.

    Recipe Tip: Meditation on these aspects of Gods grace, compassion, mercy, and love willassist the reader in her heavenly mind-set. A daily practice helpful in this area is to reiterate aloud

    the gospel each day. By doing so it helps keep the perspective of humility and the great love ofChrist to save one. It goes a long way toward keeping out the roots of bitterness and planting

    forgiveness. Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards, so entrenched herself in the love of Christ

    that normal duties were a distraction. She writes, Melted and overcome by the sweetness of thisassurance (Rom 8:34), I fell into a great flow of tearsThe presence of God was so near, and so

    real that I seemed scarcely conscious of anything else.6

    5Richard D. Patterson,Joel, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 ed. Frank Gaebelein

    (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1985), 251.6Iain H. Murray,Jonathan Edwards, A New Biography (Carlisle PA: The Banner of Truth Trust,

    1987), 194-196).

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    Joel stresses that if the people repented, disaster would be alleviated due to the

    grace of the LORD (2:14: who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a

    blessing behind Him, even a grain offering and a libation for the LORD your God?)

    This repentance must be genuine and true. God spared Nineveh because of their sincere

    repentance from their sin (Jonah 3:3-10). However, judgment came on the city in the

    next generations (Nah 2-3; Zeph 2:13-15). So too for Israel, the exile will come because

    of the hardness of their hearts. The call to repentance continues in the chapter. Even

    newlyweds are not exempt, so dire is the situation (2:15-17). As leaders of the people,

    the priests should be the first to repent and seek the LORD. By this action, criticism

    against Gods name will be hindered (2:17: Let the priests, the LORDs ministers, weep

    between the porch and the altar, and let them say, spare Thy people, O LORD, and do

    not make Thine inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they

    among the peoples say, Where is their God?)

    A time interval transpires between verses seventeen and eighteen. The next

    section concerns the future restoration of the land as a result of the repentance of Israel

    (2:18-27). Notice the promises contained within these verses. Because of the LORDs

    compassion, He will restore provisions adding His blessings (2:18-19: Then the LORD

    will be zealous for His land, and will have pity on His people. And the LORD will

    answer and say to His people, Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil.

    And you will be satisfied in full with them; and I will never again make you a reproach

    among the nations). Gods answer to their prayer eliminates the scorn or shame brought

    on by their sin. Further promises are the withdrawal of Assyria (2:20), the LORD

    providing necessary rain (2:23), food for the animals (2:21-22), bringing a cessation to

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    fear. The people need to respond with rejoicing for the marvelous provision of the

    LORD as His bountiful goodness surrounds them (2:23: So rejoice, O sons of Zion, and

    be glad in the LORD your God).

    Recipe Tip: The goodness of God will always cause rejoicing. Even if from mans point ofview, the situation seems beyond good, God is always working out the best for the believer (Rom

    8:28-29; Prov 19:23). The choice is open to the reader, but if the desire is to honor Christ, then the

    power to choose to believe Gods goodness will be available. Heavenly mindedness will lead to

    meditating on the goodness of the LORD.

    All the damage from the locusts will be removed and renewed with abundant

    water and food (2:23-26: And you shall haveplenty to eat and be satisfied). Once

    again, this wondrous provision causes the people to rejoice and give praise to the LORD.

    They know with full assurance that God is for them, with them, and about them (2:27:

    Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God,

    and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame). Twice, the text states

    that Gods people will not be put to shame (2:26-27). What fantastic news to people

    worn down with lifes difficulties. It provides the domino effect of motivation to repent

    of sin, renew mind and spirit, and rejoice with heavenly thoughts.

    III. Looking Ahead (Read 2:28-3:21)

    The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is equivalent to salvation (2:28: And it will

    come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind). A few verses later,

    the prophet writes that those who call on the LORD will be saved and whom the LORD

    calls will be delivered (2:32; Rom 10:13).7

    Joel lists all classes or positions of people to

    state that everyone in Israel is included in this outpouring (2:28-29). The natural wonders

    on display (2:30-31) will precede this Day of the LORD. Peter refers to this section of

    7Charles Feinberg, The Minor Prophets (Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1990), 81.

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    Joel during Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 2:16-21). Does this

    mean that Pentecost was a complete fulfillment of Joels prophecy? This is not probable,

    as the time in Acts did not fulfill all elements. A better time line for the complete

    fulfillment is the millennium kingdom. Notice after this (2:28), taking the reader back

    to the prophetic time of the kingdom.

    Chapter three unfolds definite aspects of the timing of the millennium kingdom.

    Again, a time reference is given, in those days and at that time (3:1). God will bring

    all the nations to one central place for judgment (3:2, 12). The reason for this judgment

    is the mistreatment of Gods people. When an individual disparages Israel, it is a direct

    attack on the LORD Himself. Consequently, the nations who have continued violence

    against Palestine must present themselves for battle against the LORD (3:2: I will

    gather all the nations, and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will

    enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,

    whom they have scattered among nations; and they have divided up My land). Joel

    specifies these acts as selling the populace for slavery (3:3, 6), ransacking the temple

    (3:5), and manipulation to get the land (3:6). These acts will be brought down on Israels

    enemies (3:7-8). The LORD then sets down a challenge for the nations to prepare for

    battle. Because these nations do not believe in God but in themselves, they will readily

    come to prove their worth against Him (3:9-14). Yet through only His voice, He controls

    nature and the outcome of the war (3:15-16). The anticipation of these times becomes

    apparent in Joels message. The LORD is and will be a refuge for His people. This is a

    scriptural truth seen in the pages of Gods Word.

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    Recipe Tip: Reflecting on how God is ones refuge is an excellent heavenly thought. Psalm46:1 states, God is our refuge, a very present help in time of trouble. The second portion of that

    verse could be rendered abundantly available in times of distress and difficulties. This includes

    thoughts. Living a holy life begins with biblical thinking. In day-to-day living, our thought life will

    determine our behavior. We must concentrate on the nature of God and how He is always available

    for help in time of need.

    The result of this battle between the nations and God is that all will know that

    God is the LORD God. Joels use of this title, the LORD God, resembles the meaning of

    the prophets name; LORD is God (3:17: Then you will know that I am the LORD your

    God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain).

    What a day that will be when even the mountains and hills, hardest to grow

    vegetation, will blossom forth (3:18). The prophet uses Egypt and Edom as

    representatives of all enemies (notice the all in verses 2, 11, and 12)8

    and how they will

    become desolate (3:19). In contrast, Judah will be the dwelling place of the LORD who

    takes cares to vindicate His people (3:20-21: But Judah will be inhabited forever, and

    Jerusalem for all generation. And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, for

    the LORD dwells in Zion).

    The locust came and went, destroying but leaving a parable for Joel to use in his

    message. In presenting his message, this prophet gave us a taste of what simmering on

    heavenly thoughts can contribute to ones spiritual journey.

    For todays reader, the message is similar to that of the prophets day: sin has

    consequences. Sin leads to focus on ones self rather than God. Therefore, bring every

    thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5) so that your life will emit a sweet

    aroma of holiness. Begin and end each day with confession and thoughts of eternal

    8Feinberg, 85.

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    value. Ask the LORD to wake you up with thoughts of His holiness, and ask what He

    desires you to accomplish for the day. Strive to replace thoughts of selfishness, politics,

    envy, strife, jealousy, pride, and criticalness with forgiveness, humility, and goodness of

    God, by meditating on a portion of Scripture each day. Set your mind and heart on things

    above, the eternal realities. Then, the peace of God will be deeper and fuller and will

    keep your heart enhancing holiness.

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    CHAPTER THREEOBADIAH: THE BASTING OF HUMILITY

    The dove made use of her wings to flee to the ark; so does a humble soul

    of duties to flee to Christ. Though the dove did use her wings, yet she did

    not trust in them, but in the ark; so though a humble soul does use duties,yet does not trust in duties, but in Jesus.

    9

    Humility is often a word spoken without realization of what it means or what the

    virtue entails. Obadiah, speaking his message to the northern kingdom regarding Edom,

    understood the insidious nature of pride and its effect on spiritual life. Therefore, it

    becomes apparent that believers need to avail themselves of his message. Pride prevails

    throughout the church and masks itself in ministry, in religiosity, in Christian talk. It also

    blinds believers to their sin, causing them to look at others and their transgressions rather

    at their prideful hearts. There is no more powerful means to take down pride than to

    look seriously to God, and set yourselves before his eyes, and consider how he loveth the

    humble, and abhorreth the proud.10

    Obadiah followed this advice. He looked at God

    and spoke His message to His people. The sermon, in the form of poetry, uses Hebrew

    parallelism where thoughts are opposite to each other or synonymous to each other (See

    v. 2 or 14 for example).

    To obtain a thorough understanding of Obadiahs message, a history lesson will

    be profitable. Isaac, the patriarch, had two sons, Esau and Jacob. From birth, Jacob tried

    9C. H. Spurgeon, Smooth Stones taken from Ancient Brooks (Morgan PA: Soli Deo Gloria

    Publications, 1860), 23.10Richard Baxter,A Christian Directory (Morgan PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 208.

    18

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    to supplant his brother, leading to disunity between the two siblings (Gen 25:24-34; 27-

    33).

    Recipe Tip: Jacob and Esau are an example of sibling rivalry that seems to be a part of most

    Christian families. What is its cause? The world would say it is because the children are not gettingenough attention. However, biblically it is a fundamental case of selfishness and self. The childrenneed to be taught in word and deed how to serve others. Make an effort to acquire family verses,

    such as Philippians 2:3-4. Help the children become students of wisdom. Teach them Gods Word

    and assist them in the memory of verses. Use a game motif to perk their interest. Read a verse and

    ask them who they think wrote the verse. Take turns querying each other. Finally, the most

    important way to assist children is to live a life of holiness before them.

    God brought about the twelve tribes of Israel from Jacob. Esau was refused

    blessing because of his rebellion to the LORD. From the lineage of Esau came the nation

    Edom. It continued to be a thorn in the side of Israel for many generations. By the time

    of Marks gospel, Edom had become populated with Jewish settlers bringing the nation of

    Edom to an end, fulfilling the prophecy of Obadiah.

    Very little is known regarding Obadiah. He may have been the first of the Minor

    Prophets to give his message. Although a brief book, Obadiah basically condenses the

    messages of the other prophets.

    Basting is a process where you take juices and redistribute them over the meat. It

    requires consistent checking of the product to keep it from being too dry or hardened.

    Basting meat keeps the juices intact. So with humility, a daily checkup by the Holy Spirit

    for evidences of pride and arrogance is necessary. When found, these sins need to be

    confessed, repented of, and replaced with humility. Basting also insures that the flavor

    will seep into the meat, providing a very scrumptious repast. Basting humility into ones

    life will also ensure an appetizing taste of Gods goodness. God keeps pouring His oil

    (juices) over believers as they grow in the likeness of His Son. If questioning the

    practicality of how to be humble, read the following Recipe Tip.

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    Recipe Tip: How to evaluate humility in your life. To assist the reader who desires morehumility in her life, practice the following:

    Ask the LORD to remove pride and produce humility.

    Read the Psalms and prophets to assist a higher view of the LORD.Study the life of Christ by reading carefully through the book of Mark.

    Ask others for input regarding pride in your life.

    Worship the LORD daily through your daily routine.Develop a humble mind-set that puts others first11

    Memorize and apply Philippians 2:3-5Look at the cross; recall what Jesus suffered. It will reveal pride and develop humility.

    Obadiahs oracle will be divided into two portions. The first is Edoms need for

    humility (vv. 2-15) and the second is for Israel to learn from Edom (vv. 16-21).

    I. Humility for Edom (Read verses 1-15)

    God is sovereign over all events of history, present and future. Obadiah

    understood this concept as he brought forth the message from the LORD (v. 1: Thus

    says the Lord GOD concerning Edom- we have heard a report from the LORD ). The

    title use of God, Lord GOD, places emphasis on His sovereignty and His relationship

    with Israel.12

    Throughout this concise book, notice the use of pronouns. Edom is told

    that she will gradually all but disappear (vv. 2, 10, 18). The Hebrew uses terms in verse

    two that carry force13 to illustrate this disappearance. But why should this happen to

    Esaus line? He is of the same lineage as Jacob; a grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac.

    However, Esau chose to despise the things of the LORD. Therefore, his lineage or

    countrymen treated the Israelites with treachery (vv. 10-14, because of the violence to

    your brother Jacob, You will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever).

    The message is simplistic disobedience brings judgment from God. Edom, so filled

    with sinful disobedience, lifted herself to a place of prideful arrogance by trusting in a

    11Stuart Scott, Essential Qualities, (Class Notes 9/5/02), 22-23.

    12Walter L. Baker, Obadiah, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Vol. 1, ed. John F. Walvoord and

    Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1455.13Ibid., 1456.

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    geographical location (vv. 3-4, The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who

    live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart,

    Who will bring me down to earth?) Believers also lift themselves to a place of pride,

    trusting in their own resources and not looking to the LORD in humility.

    Recipe Tip: Pride is manifested in a believers life in numerous ways. It is seen when onerefuses godly counsel or advice. It is seen when a believing woman doubts the goodness of God. Itis seen when one fails to believe or trust in Gods Word. It is seen in the thinking, that is okay for

    her but that does not apply to me. It is seen in worry or fretting over any aspect of life, because it

    fails to trust God for His provision. It is seen when failing to admit sin to oneself, others, or God orto even recognize sin. It is seen when one cares about what others think. It is seen when one

    refuses to obey the LORD and sets her own agenda. Pride is insidious, subtle, and dangerous. Like

    Edom, it will be judged if not forsaken and repented.

    Jordan, in the present day world, now occupies most of the country of Edom.

    There seems to be a word play in verse three in the use ofrocks as these red

    sandstones provided for their security. Edom thought she was impregnable and flouted

    her confidence in the face of Israel. But no one or no thing is hidden from God (Pss 139;

    46). Like a wise believer, the prophets poem poses queries (v. 5: If thieves came to

    you, if robbers by night how you will be ruined! Would they not steal only until they

    had enough?) God likens Edom to robbers and thieves who steal but do not take all the

    loot. With Edom, it will be different as all will be taken from her. She will be

    completely and utterly shattered (v. 6: O how Esau will be ransacked and his hidden

    treasure searched out!) Even if Edom turned to other nations for help, they would not

    be accessible (v. 7). There were four areas in which Esaus progeny prided itself: wealth

    (v. 6), allies (v. 7), wisdom (v. 8), and army (v. 9). Each of these areas will fail to rescue

    Edom from judgment. In the area of wisdom, Edom had the reputation of producing wise

    men. Yet, their wisdom failed Job in his time of distress (Job 2:11; Jer 49:7, Obad 9).

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    The next section of Obadiah tells the reader the exact crimes of Edom that made

    her culpable for judgment (vv. 10-14). These proceedings took place over many

    generations, illustrating Gods mercy in not condemning them at the first instance.

    Obadiah purposely stated brother, illustrating the dastardly crime against ones own

    blood relative (v. 10). Violence carries the idea of moral and physical brutality.14

    In

    addition to this evil, Edom continued further into a spiral of sin. She was indifferent to

    the misfortunes of Israel (v. 11: On the day you stood aloof, on the day that strangers

    carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem, you

    too were as one of them). This escalated to gloating over Israel due to her calamities

    (vv. 12, 13) and bragging of the devastation (v. 12: Yes, do not boast in the day of

    their distress). Edoms arrogance is emphasized by the word boast.15

    Notice the

    repetitive use of that day or the day (vv. 8, 11, 12, 13, 14). Obadiah went to great

    lengths to confirm that Gods justice had a righteous cause and was not vindictive.

    Although Edom does not actually war with Israel, she does something worse. She takes

    the Israeli refugees or survivors of war, delivering them to the enemy (v. 14). Because of

    all these wicked deeds, Edom will receive that which she handed out (v. 15: For the day

    of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you.

    Your dealing will return on your own head). Obadiahs words become pertinent to

    todays believers that if one responds with pride, one will be treated pridefully.

    II. Humility for Israel (Read verses 16-21)

    Obadiah employs metaphors of drinking and fire for the outcome of the judgment.

    14Carl E. Armerding, Obadiah, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol 7 ed. Frank Gaebelein

    (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1985), 347.15Baker, 1457.

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    The Gentile nations assemble as one in the nation Edom (v. 16: all the nations

    will drink continually. They will drink and swallow, and become as if they had never

    existed). Edom endeavored to strangle Israel and will ironically end up choking instead.

    Obliteration becomes the outcome for Edom (vv. 9, 10, 18). Israel in contrast, is

    sustained by a remnant (v.17: But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it

    will be holy). The timing of this will transpire in the millennium kingdom when Edom

    reaps Gods justice. The irony is that the people she sought to ruin will shatter Edom.16

    Obadiahs prophetic poem comes to partial fulfillment as evidenced in history (v. 19:

    Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah

    the Philistine plain; Also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of

    Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead). The prophets message now turns from

    the negative of pride to the hope in humility. The purged land will be restored to Israel

    just as the covenant promised (vv. 19-20). Observe the repetition of the word possess

    in these final verses. The kingdom is the LORDs and He sovereignly chooses who will

    enter and who will not (v. 21: The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the

    mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the LORDs). Pride only sees life from

    mans point of view and omits the perspective of God. It is the wise reader who listens to

    this message, getting rid of prideful arrogance and cloaking herself in humility.

    Faithful and mature believers will have a constant, lifelong attitude ofmourning or brokenness over sin, which will allow them to see more and

    more of Gods love and mercy and less and less of their own pride. The

    true expression of this attitude (it will not wallow in self-pity or falsehumility) does not focus on the person and his or her sin, but humbly and

    happily looks to God, who alone can forgive iniquity.17

    16

    David W. Baker, Desmond Alexander, and Bruce Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Tyndale OldTestament Commentaries (Downers Grove IL: Intervarsity Press, 1988), 40.

    17John MacArthur, The Pillars of Christian Character(Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 32.

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    CHAPTER FOUR

    JONAH: THE KNEADING OF REPENTANCE

    The sergeant issues the command to about face and soldiers sloppily comply.

    That is not how the armed forces train their men. When orders are barked, immediate

    attention and obedience is expected. Many believers are similar to the sloppy soldiers as

    they play around with repentance, making a halfhearted effort to obey Gods commands.

    The prophet, Jonah, discovered the consequences of being rebellious in his obedience and

    was taught the difference between godly repentance and worldly sorrow. Remorse refers

    to worldly sorrow that requires no change of thinking or behavior. But, repentance

    demands a turn from sin toward the LORD.

    Recipe Tip: the essential difference between remorse and repentance. A man who suffersremorse is one who realizes he has done wrong, but he has not repented until he realizes that he has

    sinned against God.18 May Gods Word invoke a response to the reader regarding Jonahs

    struggles in this area.

    Jonah was a prophet to the northern kingdom, most likely during the reign of

    Jeroboam II (All the kings of the northern kingdom did evil in the sight of the LORD, and

    Jeroboam II was no exception to the gross idolatry of the times). Hosea and Amos would

    be his contemporary prophets, with Elijah and Elisha preceding Jonahs prophetic

    ministry. Galilee was Jonahs hometown, specifically a small village named Gath-

    Hepher in Nazareth. One of Jonahs prophecies, recorded in 2 Kings 14:23-29, tales his

    foretelling against Syria during the reign of Jeroboam II. The patriotic prophet believed

    God would and should destroy Assyria because of her wickedness and treatment of Israel

    18D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Out of the Depths (Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 1995), 28.

    24

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    (2 Kgs 15:29; 18:9; 19:4-11 for example). When the LORD told Jonah to go to Nineveh,

    the capital of Assyria, he said, no way.

    Nimrod founded Nineveh according to Genesis 10:8-12. It was a huge city full of

    wickedness and in opposition to everything of God (Mic 5:6). According to Jonah 4:11,

    there were 120,000 infants or children in Nineveh, making the population over 600,000.

    The hundred foot walls of the city were wide enough to have chariot races three abreast.

    This city, as representative of the nation, was known for its cruelty and bloodshed

    (Nahum 3:1, 10, 19). Present day location is Iraq.

    The book of Jonah narrates the prophets life as told by Jonah, showing all the

    imperfections of the prophet. Its place in Scripture attests to the need for believers to

    repent, turning about face from sin to righteousness.

    What was Gods message through His prophet Jonah? How does that message

    impact women today? God communicates to His people of His grace, compassion, and

    goodness toward a disobedient people. It is His desire that believers should turn from

    their sin and to the LORD by His grace and sovereign purpose.

    As with food recipes, the success comes from using the best ingredients and

    following the instructions. The recipe for holiness is no exception. One of the finest

    components is repentance. Gods Word gives direction for the implementation of this

    ingredient (References are listed in Seasonings at the end of the chapters).

    Kneading dough requires effort as finger, hand, and arm muscles are pressed into

    service. The dough is overturned and the process is repeated. As the dough rises, it

    transforms from a lumpy mass of ingredients to a warm, inviting dietary staple. The

    center of the bread is soft and pliable even though the crust may be firm. With

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    repentance, there is toil as the sins are confessed and the thinking and behavior changes.

    True repentance requires an about face where selfish thinking or conduct is overturned to

    God honoring thoughts. Sin is a daily ongoing battle; repentance must be repeated as the

    Holy Spirit convicts believers of sin. The process of repentance brings about

    transformation in the softened soul of the individual by yielding to the Holy Spirit.

    It can be seen from the previous analogy that repentance is an integral part of

    holiness as sinful thoughts are exchanged for biblical thinking. In Jonah, repentance is

    given in two parts. The first aspect, kneading, depicts Jonahs refusal to repent and how

    God brought His prophet to that point of contrition (1:1-2:10). In the second portion, the

    pressing of repentance is what occurred after Jonah repented (3:1-4:11).

    I. The Kneading of Repentance (Read chapters 1 and 2)

    Jonah opens his book by revealing the basic plot. The LORD commissions His

    prophet to Nineveh to preach the gospel, but he ran in the opposite direction. This is

    similar reactions of women today who are exhorted to obey a specific command, but who

    instead listen to the worlds reasoning. The Hebrew text reveals irony in the LORDs

    command, Arise and go and Jonahs response, rose to go. Rather than go up to

    Nineveh, about five hundred miles and a month-long walk, he went down to Joppa to

    take a ship to Tarshish (v. 3: But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of

    the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid

    the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the

    LORD). Tarshish is not to be confused with Tarsus, Pauls birthplace (Acts 21:39).

    England or Spain could be the location of Tarshish, to which one could arrive via the

    Mediterranean Sea. This would mean Jonah planned to travel about two thousand miles

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    in the other direction from Nineveh. Notice that Jonah chose the place to run away from

    God. The text states twice that Jonah fled from the presence of the LORD (1:3). The sin

    of disobedience led the prophet down into a deeper sin of rebellion.

    Fleeing from the presence of the LORD was impossible for Jonah to do (Ps 139:

    7-10). He feared the LORD: I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven,

    who made the sea and the dry land (1:9) Therefore, Jonah understood the call of God,

    which was synonymous with fearing the LORD. He cannot be excused on that account.

    So, why would the prophet try to flee from God? Was he afraid of death? According to

    his narrative, he willed himself to die rather than to live (4:3,8). That removes that

    excuse as well. The text does not give implications that Jonah was fearful of men or what

    they may do to him if he preached repentance. What underlying motivation existed in the

    heart and mind of Jonah to flee Gods presence? By Jonahs own prophecy, he knew the

    mercy and compassion of God (2 Kgs 14:26-27; Jonah 4:2). If Nineveh, being one of

    Israels chief enemies, repented in response to Gods message through Jonah it would

    mean salvation for the Assyrians. Jonah had an unbiblical view of salvation by not

    wanting to see the people of Nineveh saved. Now the outer layer of the onion is peeled,

    and the center or core of Jonahs heart is being exposed. He did not believe that salvation

    was for Gentiles; therefore, God should not allow the pagans opportunity to repent. It

    was not fear nor cowardice that drove Jonah in the opposite direction, but unbelief. His

    patriotic zeal existed without faith in the powerful LORD of the universe. It left him to

    the dictates of his own reasoning. As the story continues, it will be seen that this was a

    big mistake for Jonah. His wrong thinking regarding salvation led him to wrong behavior

    as seen in his trying to flee from the LORD.

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    Recipe Tip: Fleeing the LORD can be demonstrated in numerous avenues: Giving up when thetask becomes too much. Worry or fearing what others think illustrates trying to flee the LORD. In

    fact, it is anything believers do that takes them from obedience. If you love Me, you will obey whatI command. (John 14:15). It is when we love ourselves more than God, not believing God or whatHe says. Jonahs fleeing exhibited unbelief. Religious duty performed without faith will render the

    same outcome. It is not the outward show of holiness but the inward heartbeat of the mind set upon

    things above and not on this earth. In thinking, disobedience removes one from the presence of theLORD. Every time one sins, it is right in His face (Ps 51:4; Gen 39:9).

    In order to disobey God and flee His presence, Jonah thought he had to depart the

    Promised Land, the land of Gods presence.19

    He did not miss the will of God, nor was

    Gods will unknown to him. Jonah chose to disobey the will of God. The spiral of sin

    continued as the Scriptures state that Jonah went down to Joppa and then went down

    into the ship (1:3). Circumstances such as finding a ship with room for him seemed to

    confirm that his actions were prudent (Hos 14:9: For the ways of the LORD are aright;

    the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them) God superintended all

    events to bring Jonah to repentance.

    Jonah then paid the fare for his hasty departure (v. 3: paid the fare and went

    down into it to go with them). It has been said that the most expensive thing known is

    to run away from God.20

    (Rom 6:23: For the wages of sin is death) Sinful choices

    led Jonah to foolishness. He really deceived himself into thinking he could remove

    himself from the presence of God.

    God intervened through a gigantic storm (v. 4: And the LORD hurled a great

    wind on the sea and there was great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break

    up). This was no ordinary tempest, as seen by the reaction of the sailors (v. 5). It could

    literally be said that the LORD hurled (same Hebrew verb is used throughout chapter

    19See Genesis 4:16 where Cain went out from the presence of the LORD. The Holy Land was

    comparable to Gods presence.20Steven J. Lawson,A Study of Jonah (Mobile AL: Truth for Today, 2002), compact disc.

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    one, vv. 4, 5, 12, and 15) out a great wind onto the sea and a great storm occurred on the

    sea.21

    Nature did not create this storm, but God sent it to bring Jonah back to repentance.

    Yet, the prophet stubbornly continued in his sin of rebellion.

    As the narrative continues, God is the principal player-- not Jonah, not the sailors,

    not the fish, not the Ninevites. The book begins with the LORD commissioning Jonah

    and ends with His question to Jonah. The reader begins to see the sovereignty of God

    played out in the life of His prophet.

    Recipe Tip: A word of warning to the reader; do not be critical of Jonahs response. It is oftenthe same response in the believers mind and heart when commissioned by God to do somethingthat does not make sense. Under the Holy Spirits direction, Jonahs life was placed to teach the

    believer the essential ingredient of repentance and how often the lack of that ingredient is wrongly

    justified by responses and circumstances.

    Scripture illustrates mans endeavors to handle the situation (1:5: Then the sailor

    became afraid, and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in

    the ship into the sea to lighten it for them). The sailors cry to their gods and throw

    valuable equipment overboard. Their attempt to control the circumstances found their

    prayers useless and led to a severe loss of income. In contrast, Jonah is sound asleep (v.

    5: But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down, and fallen sound

    asleep). The original language gives the idea of snoring, being in a deep slumber.

    Jonah had just rushed from his hometown to Joppa, boarded a ship bound for the ends of

    the earth, and was physically and emotionally worn out by fleeing from God. The sailors

    are mystified as to how this man could sleep during such a dreadful storm. The captain

    of the ship comes and wakes up Jonah urging him to call on his god. Arise, call on your

    God (1:6). This request echoes the commission by God in verse 2, Arise, go to

    21William Barrick, OT 603 Translation of Jonah (Class Notes, 2002), 1.

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    Jonah could not escape the LORD. Now He was allowing pagans to remind the prophet

    of his call to preach to the Gentiles.

    The storm is not abating. Notice its progression: v. 4: great storm, v. 11:

    increasingly stormy, v. 12: great storm, v. 13: becoming even stormier. The

    sailors had rightly assumed that someone aboard ship had angered his god and decided to

    locate the culprit (v. 7: And each man said to his mate, Come, let us cast lots so we

    may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us). This occurred by the casting

    of lots, a common part of ancient religions. For the Hebrew, it was a solemn appeal to

    the LORD to indicate His direction in matters not otherwise decided. It is not a simple

    probability of chance, but the LORDs direction (1 Sam 14:41-42; Prov 16:33). Today,

    believers pray for Gods will and direction. When His will is unsure, they add, Lord

    willing so their hearts are aligned with the LORD.

    Through questions, Jonahs running away is discovered by the sailors (vv. 8-10).

    In this confession of sorts (notice Jonah does not answer the questions in order and omits

    his occupation), the sailors realize the importance of the LORD and are witness to His

    mighty power (v. 11: So they [sailors] said to him [Jonah], What should we do to you

    that the sea may become calm for us?) The mariners did not immediately follow

    Jonahs advice of hurling him into the sea. Rather, they attempted vainly to do it mans

    way by rowing harder. It was possible from their position that they could see land,but

    the wind would have kept them from landing. This again points to the sovereignty of

    God.22

    The storm intensifies (v. 13). Finally, after exhausting all their resources, they

    call upon the LORD for salvation and obey by throwing Jonah into the sea (v. 15: So

    22George A. Smith, The Book of the 12 Prophets in the Expositors Bible. Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids

    MI: Eerdmans, 1956), 373.

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    they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging). The

    results achieved? The sea is immediately calm, back to its original state of peace, and

    Jonah arrives in the belly of a great fish. This fish was most likely not a whale due to

    whales being rarely found in the Mediterranean Sea. Whales have throats too small to

    swallow a man whole. It could have been a large shark or seadog appointed by God for

    the purpose of saving Jonah. The sqalus carchariasL or Requiem are more common to

    the Mediterranean Sea and have large enough throats to swallow a man.23

    Jonah becomes a picture of walking in the flesh, doing what he wants, how he

    wants, and when he wants. He remains stubborn, choosing to sin rather than to repent.

    Recipe Tip: Repentance is turning in the opposite direction, an about face. It is the giving up ofones own agenda for the will of God. Sorrow may be included, but Judas was sorry and did notrepent (Matt 27:3). Repentance is a personal issue with each believer. There is no room for

    blaming someone or something else for your actions or choices. Repentance is an imperative

    responsibility, a command. When the believer repents, it is a soothing aroma to the LORD (2 Cor

    2:15; Isa 57:15; 66:2).

    In contrast to Jonahs unrepentant heart is the sailors willingness to embrace the

    LORD (v. 16: Then the men feared [awe] the LORD greatly and they offered a sacrifice

    to the LORD and made vows). These mariners showed compassion for Jonah, one man,

    whereas Jonah was unwilling to show compassion for an entire nation. Yet, regardless of

    Jonahs rebellion, God was the one in control, bringing about the salvation of the sailors.

    The text reveals their recognition of Gods sovereign control and being brought to fear

    the LORD (v. 14: Then they called on the LORD and said, We earnestly pray, O LORD,

    do not let us perish on account of this mans life and do not put innocent blood on us; for

    Thou, O LORD, has done as Thou hast planned). In an ancient world where many gods

    abounded, the contrast becomes more apparent.

    23C.F. Keil and Franz Delitzch, The 12 Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1961), 398.

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    Chapter one ends with Jonah remaining unrepentant and in a God-ordained

    situation to bring him to repentance. This fish was the LORDs means of preserving

    Jonahs life. It is the good of which Romans 8:28 speaks (or Proverbs 19:23).

    As the text continues in chapter two, Jonah remained in that great fish for three

    days and three nights. This experience was no vacation for the prophet. He had seaweed

    wrapped around his head, was covered with gastric juices and sea water, total darkness,

    skin irritations, chilly, very cramped living quarters, destitute and without hope.24

    (2:5:

    Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep surrounded me. Weeds

    were wrapped around my head). In this death-like situation, Jonah repents of his sin of

    self-idolatry, pride, and rebellion (2:8). The prophet calls upon the LORD, and the text

    states that God answered him (2:2: I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He

    answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice).

    Notice the Word states that he called upon the LORD his God (2:1), and Jonah refers to

    the LORD my God (2:6). This was a personal identification with his Savior. As Jonah

    felt his life drain away, he recalled the LORDs work and expressed confidence in his

    salvation (2:7: While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD; and my prayer

    came to Thee, into Thy holy temple) The prophets prayer echoes the Psalms, which

    were considered the outpourings of the heart of the godly in times of deepest distress as

    well as in other experiences of life.25

    Time passed, allowing Jonah to reflect on his attitude and action. The prophet

    had run away, expressing his desire for his own agenda. Now, he humbly repents of his

    idols, confesses his disobedience, accepts responsibility for his sin, and thanks God for

    24Phil Johnson, Whats Eating Jonah? (India: Grace to You), 49. This is an excellent description.25Charles L. Feinberg, The Minor Prophets (Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1946), 23-24.

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    his salvation (2:8-9: Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness. But I will

    sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay.

    Salvation is from the LORD).

    Jonahs prayer is a confident expectation for God who has worked on his behalf

    and will continue to do so. His hope does not exist in himself, not in creation, not in the

    fish, but only in the LORD his God. A sense of urgency arises as he comes to the end of

    himself and his own resources in that smelly darkness. Jonahs only audience was God

    as he poured out his heart, confessing his own inadequacy.

    Recipe Tip: Confession is saying the same thing as God says. It is nailing the sin to the cross byconfessing directly to God and not to others unless they are involved in the sin issue. It is to confessit completely in action and attitude. It is to confess it immediately. It is to confess it humbly with a

    broken and contrite spirit. It is the changing of focus from self to God. Being convicted of sin and

    confessing sin are two different things. Theologically, conviction is being condemned by onesconscience against Gods law through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is what happens in the heart

    prior to repentance. The believer must confess and forsake as part of true repentance (Prov 28:13).

    Jonahs prayer included biblical confession and repentance.

    II. The Pressing of Repentance (Read chapters 3 and 4)

    Jonah expresses his faith by being obedient to Gods call (3:3: So Jonah arose

    and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD). The LORD spoke to him a

    second time by issuing a command to go and preach Gods message of repentance to the

    Ninevites. Jonahs response in chapter three is an about face from his reaction in chapter

    one. There is no running away, no escaping his responsibility. The text indicates that

    Jonah obeyed without complaint (3:3).

    The LORD sent Jonah to preach that the great city of Nineveh would be destroyed

    in forty days. The English text does not state a condition of this judgment; however, the

    use of the word overthrown gives the idea of a turn around or change26

    (3:4: Then

    26Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible , ed. Spiros Zodhiates (Chattanooga TN: AMG Publishers,

    1996), 1929.

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    Jonah began to go through the city one days walk; and he cried out and said, Yet forty

    days and Nineveh will be overthrown). The Ninevites lose no time in demonstrating

    their repentance (3:5: Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast

    and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them). Word of coming judgment

    and need for an about face touched the king of the land, causing him to exchange his

    royal robe for sackcloth and issue a decree of fasting and contrition (3:6-8). By this

    submission, the king recognized the authority of LORD and that God was not compelled

    to relent from the judgment (3:9: Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw

    His burning anger so that we shall not perish). The reader comes again to the concept

    of Gods sovereignty. The repentance of the Ninevites manifested itself through their

    outward behavior (3:8, 10).

    What made the people of Nineveh repent? It has been suggested that a solar

    eclipse took place prior to Jonahs preaching. Or, it could have been the strangeness of

    the prophets appearance and his notoriety. However, both of these aspects miss the

    point that Salvation is from the LORD.

    Their actions of fasting and putting on sackcloth reveal true repentance that began

    with the king and nobles and extended down to the animals.

    Recipe Tip: Sackcloth was a coarse outer garment to represent irritation as a symbol of deepsorrow. Ashes were applied to the face to emphasize the streaking of tears, giving the face a pale,

    deathly look. The idea was to look horrible. Like the Corinthian church (2 Cor 7:9, 10) it was an

    expression of godly sorrow because the sin is an offense to a holy God. Worldly sorrow is being

    sad because one got caught or messed up her life due to wrong choices, but it does not involve

    change of attitude or heart.

    Biblical truth was what the people needed to hear. Gods Spirit worked in their hearts,

    bringing about salvation both individually and nationally as the fear of judgment led the

    Ninevites to fearing the LORD. The Lord Jesus Christ referenced this event, thereby

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    commending it as true repentance (Matt 12:41). There were no gimmicks to this

    presentation, no seeker-friendly aspects or drama and musical preludes just plain and

    simple presentation of the gospel. The Word of truth is powerful and enters the heart of

    mankind exposing the sin (Heb 4:12). Salvation is of the LORD.

    The way of repentance unto divine mercy is open to all people. It may be

    entered upon with complete confidence in Gods willingness to extend mercy to

    Ninevites as well as to the citizens of Jerusalem.27

    God extended His mercy to the city

    and its inhabitants, which exposed Jonahs heart (4:1: But it greatly displeased Jonah,

    and he became angry).

    Notice the use of the pronoun my, showing the idol of Jonahs heart as

    nationalistic pride (4:2: Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my

    own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish). The verse

    continues with the prophets statement of his belief in the character of God, for I knew

    that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving

    kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity (4:2b), quoting Exodus 34:6-7. He

    knew the LORD would relent concerning calamity. The root of this term means to

    breathe heavily. It is not a change of mind but almost like God took a deep breath of

    relief that He did not have to act in judgment, which is consistent with His character.

    The text states that Jonah was angry (4:1: and he became angry). God inquires

    of him twice if he had a right to this attitude (4:4, 9). Jonah brought his own wisdom to

    the situation instead of crying out his heart in submission. Where did this anger come

    from? Did Jonah have a right to be angry? The core of the onion becomes even more

    27Kennedy, James Hardee,Jonah (Nashville TN: Broadman Press), 58.

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    transparent as the motivation of Jonahs heart is revealed. Once again, the sin started to

    spiral as prejudice led to anger, and anger led to depression and despondency. Jonahs

    anger was based on selfishness, not getting what he wanted. The depression continued to

    escalate, leading to a desire for ending his life (vv. 3 and 8). Gods counsel to the

    prophets request was in the form of questions about whether Jonah had any right to be

    angry (4:4: And the LORD said, Do you have good reason to be angry?) The LORD

    asks the same question of believers do they have a right to be angry?

    Recipe Tip: Anger usually stems from not getting what one desires, not achieving expectedresults, or having rights violated. There is an anger which could be classified as useful spoken of inEphesians 4:26. It could be translated as being ticked off at sin and evil. The difference is motive

    of the heart and how one handles the anger. Anger that is sinful needs to be put off and replaced

    with forbearance (Eph 4:22-24). This is only accomplished through the help of the Holy Spirit and

    His Word as change is brought about through the thinking of heart and mind. And no, like Jonah,

    believers do not have a right to be angry.

    The prophets response is to leave Nineveh and go up to the east side, which gives

    him a great view of the metropolis. He then takes time to build a shelter and sits to wait

    for the upcoming judgment on the pagans (4:5: Then Jonah went out from the city and

    sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he

    could see what would happen in the city). Yet the judgment does not come. As the

    prophet waits, God provides Jonah with a fast-growing plant to offer comfort and to

    illustrate His mercy to His prophet. This plant was probably a castor oil plant that

    grows fast in a hot climate. It has a thin root system, can grow to twelve feet, and is

    known by its one enormous leaf.28

    However, God appoints a worm to destroy the plant.

    The LORD next designates an east wind that scorches everything in its path, similar to a

    dust storm (4:8: And it came about when the sun came up that God appointed a

    28 David Levy, The Angry Prophet,Israel My Glory, 61, no.3 (2003), 22.

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    scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonahs head ). Jonah was happy

    about the plant but angry regarding the worm and the wind. There is no gratitude for

    either set of circumstances. The prophet had compassion on a plant with no soul rather

    than for a city of millions whose souls needed salvation. One sees the contradictions in

    Jonahs regard were for that which was short-lived and temporal.

    Did Jonah have a right to be angry? The answer is a rhetorical no. God counsels

    Jonah by calling him to reflect on his attitude (4:10-11: The LORD said, You had

    compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to

    grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. And should I not have

    compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who

    do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?)

    The prophets state of mind is revealed, showing his harsh, self-centered, murmuring,

    complaining, and being angry at the goodness of God. The LORD then uses object

    lessons of the plant and worm to teach Jonah about Gods mercy on the great city of

    Nineveh. Jonah had deep feelings for a plant that he did not labor over, so cannot God

    feel deeply about the people He has made in His own image? The prophet, Jonah, had no

    right to be angry when souls are more meaningful than plants. The LORD ends His

    question with reference to animals, as if to say, Jonah, if you will not care about people,

    then how about animals? It was a merciful and loving God extending His love to His

    prophet.

    Did Jonah repent? It is not stated that he did or did not. The book ends with a

    counseling question by God to His prophet. In light of the book being written by Jonah

    exposing all his imperfections, he did come to repentance. There is no need for further

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    statements in the book as the goal of the book has been attained the compassion and

    mercy of the LORD, leading souls to repentance through the sovereignty of God.

    Recipe Tip: What is the readers response of the heart to Gods call? Where is there anger that

    needs to be identified and not justified? Where is ones heart in regard to selfishness orcomplaining? As this book of Jonah is read, may the Holy Spirit enlighten the heart, expose the sin,tear down the idols of the heart, and bring about true repentance. Stated earlier in the chapter,

    kneading dough requires a great deal of effort. The questions put to Jonah are the same put to

    todays women: Do you have a right to ? Part of holiness is repentance. In fact, it is a main

    ingredient for the best possible results of the recipe.

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    CHAPTER FIVE

    MICAH: THE PRECISENESS OF PRAYER

    Listen up! Son, you have to stop pestering your sister. You have been told a

    thousand times, so stop it right now! Siblings think they can annoy each other without

    consequence. They deliberately tease and aggravate one another, causing parents to feel

    harassed by their willful refusal to obey. Opportunities to teach holiness can be

    maximized by this type of trying situation. Micah is in a similar situation. He attempts

    to bring his hearers to the place of listening and paying attention. They need to stop their

    headstrong rebellion and to heed the instruction of righteousness. Yet, they relished in

    their materialism and took no thought to the destruction of their souls.

    Micah hailed from the same area as Isaiah and ministered at the same time as

    Isaiah. Judah was in its zenith of economic wealth. Unfortunately, that prosperity only

    led the people into more of a spiritual decline. The poor became the pawn of the rich

    who abused their power and position to further their own ends. Threatened punishment

    issued by the LORD was to be carried out if the people did not repent of their evil ways.

    Micah lists three kings of the southern kingdom, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

    Hezekiah was unlike his father, Ahaz, in that he followed after the LORD (2 Kgs 16:20;

    18:1-8). During Hezekiahs reign, there was a spiritual reform. Micah most likely had a

    great deal to do with that reform by speaking the truth with boldness and clarity.

    39

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    The book of Micah is written with preciseness but is often seen as choppy or

    abrupt. Look for the links that pull the messages together; for instance, gate in 1:9

    connects with gate in 1:12. There are words of contrast, such as those who scheme

    iniquity (2:1) and the LORD stating, I am planning (2:3).

    Micah admirably records the sovereignty of God and His covenant relationship

    with His people, Israel. Although the prophet writes mainly to the southern kingdom, he

    addresses the sins of both kingdoms. Samaria and Jerusalem, as capitals, are

    representatives of each nation as a whole. For Micah, the remnant is not a leftover of the

    Hebrews, but a source of power where there is absolute trust in God and His abilities.

    1

    Injustice is seen throughout the book of Micah. Just as in todays society, Judah

    continually battled the injustices of the culture, the powerful, and the wealthy. Prayer is a

    vital force in that battle. Believers pray because God commands it (1 Thess 5:17-18), and

    it pleases Him (1 Cor 10:31). God wants us to pray and He wants to answer our prayers,

    but He makes our use of prayer as a privilege.30

    For Micah, praying was a natural

    tendency, seeking the LORDs will for His people.

    Preciseness implies a definitive purpose. In cooking, precise measurements mean

    the difference between an outstanding or a pitiable outcome. To be precise requires time

    and effort along with carefulness. Meticulous attention prevents errors in baking times,

    order of ingredients, selecting right products, and tools. Oven temperatures can differ and

    therefore must be calibrated. Another aspect of preciseness in cooking is the outcome of

    the product. For instance, when making a cake, measurements need to be precise and not

    29Thomas Edward McComiskey, Micah, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 ed. Frank

    Gaebelein (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1985), 399.30A.W. Tozer, Man: the Dwelling Place of God, comp. Anita M. Bailey (Camp Hill PA: Christian

    Publications, 1966), 86.

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    just thrown together. When the cake is prepared correctly, the frosting is easier to spread

    and the decorations on top of the cake stand out. Praying biblically needs accurate

    attention as well. God has given precise commands as to how to pray. Sin must not hide

    in ones heart (Ps 66:18, 19). Prayers must be offered in faith (Matt 21:22) and stated in

    Christs name (John 14:13). Prayer must also be according to Gods will (1 John 5:14).

    According to Scriptures, praying must have thanksgiving (Phil 4:6), forgiveness (Matt

    6:14), faith (Jas 1:6), and submission (Prov 3:5-6; Luke 22:42). Precision in prayer

    comes from praying according to the will of the Father instead of with selfish desires. If

    believers improvise Gods commands rather than following His instruction, they are not

    being obedient or honoring the LORD. Prayer is not done by rote, yet needs to be a part

    of the daily life. It is not a religious duty performed as an obligation but a privilege to

    come to the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, and talk with Him. Like an oven

    needing calibrating, precise biblical prayer requires persistence (Luke 18:1-8; Eph 6:18).

    Recipe Tip: If such unwilling and sinful humans will honor persistence, how much more willour holy, loving Heavenly Father? If you dont get an immediate answer to your request, or if

    events dont turn out exactly or as quickly as you hoped they would, our Lords word to us is dont

    lose heart. Just keep praying without ceasing and dont give up. Keep knocking. Keep asking.

    Keep seeking.31

    The right instruments for precision in prayer are a cleansed heart (Ps 66:18-19)

    and the Word of God (Amos 5:4; Zech 13:9). These tools must be used correctly. When

    believers come to the throne of grace in prayer, they must make sure they are asking for

    the right things and with the right motivation (Jas 4:2-3).

    31John MacArthur,Alone with God(Wheaton IL: Victor Books, 1995), 24.

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    This chapter will portion prayer into three sections: the dilemma of prayer (ch. 1-

    3), the deliverance by prayer (ch. 4-5), and the delight of prayer (ch. 6-7). It is hoped the

    readers prayer life will be enhanced through this study of Micah.

    Recipe Tip: It should be common practice of believing women to express the Scriptures as part oftheir prayer lives. In order for this to happen, women need to be reading Gods Word on a daily

    basis. There are numerous solutions to the time element in womens lives regarding this discipline

    as wisdom comes from God (Jas 1:5, Prov 9:10). Children can write verses on cards or paper,

    thereby teaching the next generation the importance