by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXIX

July, 1950

Number 12

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

We need have no fears at to the truthfulness of the whale swallowing Jonah. No matter if no one now living has ever seen a whale with a throat so large, yet it remains that the One Who can make a whale can make one that can swallow a man. Only one such whale has ever been needed.

The prayer of Jonah, while he was in the whale, is full of instruction. It consisted more of affirmations and thanksgiving, than of requests. While in the monster the prophet said, "I cried in my affliction to the Lord my God, and He hearkened to me---to my cry out of the abdomen of the unseen". He said this, mind you, before he made any request. He was so sure of being heard and answered favorably, that he affirmed this fact before it came to pass.

In this we may learn a lesson. Faith takes it for granted that the petition will receive a favorable answer. And, in praise, the one who is praying claims the answer before it has actually been manifested.

The prophet recited how he came to be in the whale, and how deep down in the sea he had sunk when he was cast out of the ship. He was still talking to the Lord, since there was no one else to whom he could speak at the time.

Then came the request: He asked the Lord to restore his corrupt life.  He realized that he was a sinner---that he had made a grevious mistake. But he had no idea that the corruption was too great for the Lord to heal. He fully expected that he would be lifted out of his predicament.

He had observed lies and vanities in supposing that he could get away from the Lord. In doing so, he had failed to be merciful to himself. Even so he had not gone beyond the mercies of the Lord, and he knew it.

The answer had not yet been manifested, but he was so full of confidence that he said, "I will sacrifice to Thee with the voice of praise and thanksgiving". Most of us treat God as we would a hired man. We say to the man, "if you will do this job I will pay you." So we, in effect say to God, "If you will grant my request I will praise You". We, in most cases, do not love Him enough to praise Him before the answer comes.

We may have made mistakes until we feel corrupt---we think our life is ruined. But it is well to remember, as did Jonah, that no state of corruptness or sinfulness can ever be beyond the mercy of God. Jonah was as confident as if he had made no mistake.

And let me emphasize the fact that before the prophet had requested anything of the Lord, he claimed a favorable answer, and was speaking words of praise. How we do need this lesson!

The answer came and Jonah found himself on dry land, and hurrying to Ninevah. And notice how simply he gave the message! There was no flourish. He did not try for elegant speech. He simply said that in three days the city would be destroyed. I am using the Septuagant Version. The A. V. says forty days.

The reader is familiar with the fact that the people of Ninevah repented. That is their mind was changed, and they repudiated the wickedness and lawlessness that has been their practice.

Also it is well known that God repented of the evil that He had said He would do, and He did it not. He spared the city.

We make mistakes often by bringing in something that is not in the passage under consideration.  We might argue profoundly and learnedly that God knew beforehand just what He would do---that He really had no intention of destroying the city.  But such argument has no place in the story. God had said that he would destroy the city, and when the people repented, God repented of the evil He had mentioned, and did it not. That is all we need to know, in order to get the lesson of this story.

We should not be more careful than are the sacred writers. If we are discussing a passage in which it is said that all is of God, we must bring that in. But if the statement is absent from the passage, evidently God does not want it there, and we are showing ourself too careful when we bring it in. If God omits it, let's honor His omission.

The same is true of other doctrines. Let us not put predestination in a passage where God has not put it. If we are discussing faith, and God has not said in that passage the faith is God's oblation, let US not say it. But when we are discussing Eph. 2:8, where the writer inserted this passage, let us insist that it is true.

So we leave out all matter that are foreign to the Book, Jonah, and simply believe that the people of a wicked city were spared because they repented although God had said He would destroy it. This is the lesson that we are supposed to learn from this part of the word of God.

Jonah believed, before he started on his journey of escape from the Lord, that God is merciful and would spare the city when the people repented, no matter if he HAD said He would destroy it. It is unworthy of Jonah that this was the reason he did not want to go to Ninevah. But this admission in the story shows the frailty of man. It does not take from Jonah the admirable points he had. Neither should we condemn him about the gourd episode, even though he acted very childishly. Let us take into account the good points of the prophet.

In the story of Ninevah we find a lesson that should be heeded. Right now the world is facing what looks like calamity, because of lawlessness and wickedness. And we have the word of God concerning the rate of the world. But let us remember that there is always a possibility that God will repent of the evil He has said He will do. Grace is so powerful that it can easily set aside threatened calamity when the people repent of that which is bringing evil. There is no scarcity of mercy.

Jonah was honoring God by saying that he knew Him to be merciful. If God has promised good, He will never repent of that. But He has been known to repent of evil that He has said He would bring on mankind.

It is hardly honoring to Him to believe that He is so unyielding that prayers and tears and repentance cannot turn Him from an evil that He has threatened. This may be true of a hard-hearted MAN, but not of a merciful God!

Statesmen are afraid that World War III is coming. They don't want it, but they are doing that which is calculated to bring it---they are talking about it and predicting it. But Paul tells us how to act if we would live in peace. We are to make prayers, thanksgivings, etc., for all mankind, and he specially mentions those who are in superior positions. We are to do this in order to live a mild and quiet life in all devoutness and gravity. See I Tim. 2:1-3.

There is not a day when I do not pray for Stalin, Truman, Attlee, and all the heads of the various nations. I am not depending on the United Nations. I am depending on God to bless mankind with the gift of repentance, so that the world will be spared another blood bath worse than any we have known hitherto.

I ask my readers, Will you do your part in this repentance?  Is there any lawlessness in your life, that may be a contributing factor in the downfall of civilization? Will you seek to do the will of God? Will you set the example of honesty, sobriety, chastity, devoutness? Until you do, you cannot be a factor in helping straighten out the thinking of mankind.

In all your contact with mankind, will you try to inculcate into them the principles of citizenship that made this a great nation in the past? If you have access to the public prints, will you try to let your influence be felt for good?

And will you pray for the man whom we believe is trying to engulf the world in Communism and Atheism? You know that I refer to Joseph Stalin. If we can't reach his case by prayer, we certainly cannot do it by abuse.

Will there be a world-wide return to sanity? Which is to ask, will there be a world-wide repentance? Will you do your part toward it?

Have you learned anything from the Book of Jonah?

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