Of Whales, Prophets, and Mixes

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BELLY

And the thought that comes to my mind first is the Bible account of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, which the old prophet compared to being in hell. We might, too! I doubt the whale was happy to play host, either.

In the Biblical book of Jonah, the giant creature is called a fish:
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heard my voice.”
Jonah 1: 17; 2: 1-2

It’s Jesus, centuries later, who specifically named it as whale:
But he answered and said unto them, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt. 12: 39-40

Jesus often compared between the old Law and the instructions He was giving. We see many literal demonstrations in the Law that took on a more intense meaning in the New. Like where Jesus told his listeners, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil. Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matt 5:38-39

Where the Old Testament taught fairness, an even return for damage inflicted, Jesus went beyond the Law and taught forgiveness. He urged his listeners to suffer a wrong rather than retaliate with anger and violence.

What happened to Jonah was a literal demonstration of what would someday happen to Jesus. However, certain laws demonstrated literally a meaning that later was understood in a symbolic way. For example, one Old Testament law said the Jews must not weave a garment with two different fibers. So, no poly-cottons in Israel’s day. Neither could they seed a field with two different grains.

Does God, the Heavenly Father, frown on mixed fibers and grain? No, but He does frown on unequal mixes, the combining of good and evil. This law is the literal demonstration of a spiritual truth: it displeases him when we take something that comes from pagan or evil roots, swipe it with a whitewash brush of religion, and call it “good now.” Which explains why many Christian people through the centuries have rejected the deck of playing cards because they are derived from the tarot card deck, a thing of occult origin.

And this is enough about Jonah and the Whale, laws and illustrations. Have a great week, everyone.

Christmas Blessings to All

ALL IN GOD’S PLAN

“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…and all went…every one into his own city…” (Luke 2:1-3)
All in God’s plan. It seems that God wanted the whole world turned upside down for the birth of His Son! All over the known world folks had to make a journey to the place of their birth.

Just like today. The Christ-child wants to be born in our hearts, but before that can happen our life must be turned upside down. That which we hold in high esteem must come crashing to the ground. The way that we would most despise — the way of humility — must become the only one we want to take. That which is hidden deep within us must be brought to the Light. In a sense we come back to the place of our birth and realize we need to take a different path — His way.

“And Joseph also went up…with Mary, his espoused wife…”
All in God’s plan. Joseph and Mary had a destiny and God watched over them as they journeyed among the crowds of people. To fulfill His promise to His servant David, His Son must be born in Bethlehem. Did they sense what an important part they would have in history? Who could have known that what happened to those two ordinary, humble people in an insignificant village would change many people’s lives the world over?

Just like today. God has made His promise to man that “whosoever will may come” and He intends to fulfill this in our lives. He watches as we journey among the crowds of people and slowly He brings us to a crossroads, a place of choosing. Then, if we then choose to walk with Him, the Christ-child is born in our hearts. This gives us a destiny–and how can we know what an important part we may play in changing the course of other people’s lives?

“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.”
All in God’s plan. Not just so people could fault the poor innkeeper all these years for being so hard-hearted. Rather, it seems that God did not want His Son to be born in the inn — as a GUEST — perhaps in the company of the important and well-to-do. In His birth Jesus had not even a room or a bed and in the years of His ministry He had no place to lay His head. He was totally an outsider in this world.

Just like today. Each year at Christmas the normal events of life are disrupted for a season as folks go to and fro, buying gifts, decorating houses and stores, travelling home to their families, gathering for feasting, partying, and generally making merry. But the work God seeks to do in our hearts is something apart from all this. He comes quietly, at any time of the year, whenever a seeking soul opens his heart to Jesus.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

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A Song in the Air

When I woke up this morning a tune came to mind:
“There’s a song in the air…”

It’s not surprising I thought of this, considering the season we’re in. I posted a dozen Christmas cards yesterday and was looking at puzzles with pictures of old fashioned village carollers. I see Christmas day is only two weeks from now!

I thought more about the words and appreciated the gentle beauty of the melody…

“And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing
for the manger in Bethlehem cradles a King.”

I’m thankful for these old carols that remind us of the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of the King. When I’m wandering through stores these days, I appreciate hearing religious carols for another reason, too. They tend to be slower and fill the air with a feeling of peace and joy, relaxing my mind.

When I hear some of the popular non-carols, the zippy winter songs merchants love to play, I feel more rushed. Is “Giddy-up, giddyup, giddyuup, let’s go!” meant to nudge shoppers into more of a “Hurry up and buy something” frame of mind? This may give short term results, but I have to wonder if this feeling of being push-push-pushed contributes a lot to the stress of the season?

Music as Motivation

I don’t know who told us this, but I once heard about two friends visiting, one of them being the manager of a restaurant. They were in the office together, looking over the eating area from the office window, and could observe the customers below.

The friend commented on how the diners appeared relaxed, taking their time over their meals, visiting awhile after. The manager replied, “Watch me clear this place out.” He took a CD from his desk and replaced the slower music that was playing with more lively songs. Soon diners were leaving; before long the restaurant was almost empty. They got the subliminal hint.

Motivational research has shown that music has a definite affect on moods. When the song in the air around them is gentle, people relax accordingly.

An Old Song

I’ve just googled “There’s A Song in the Air” and was surprised to learn it’s actually a very old one; it was written by Josiah G Holland and published in 1872.

There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin’s sweet Boy is the Lord of the earth.
Aye! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;
And that song from afar has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
That comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.
Aye! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!

Today’s prompt word at Daily Addictions: SING

Upside Down Thoughts

UPSIDE-DOWN THOUGHTS
by Margaret Penner Toews
from her book, FLY HIGH MY KITE

I sit and ponder on some things
that once my Saviour said:
The greatest isn’t one who leads
but one who is gladly led.
The greatest thinks about himself
as being truly small.
The poor in spirit really are
the richest ones of all.

The weak are strong. The first are last.
who dies to self shall live.
Who keeps is poor, but rich are those
who give and give and give.

His mathematics aren’t like
the numbers that we use–
But, Oh! how rich His promise if
His reckoning I choose!
The way He tallies might seem queer
and even make us frown,
But it is never He, but we
who are thinking “upside-down”.

As well as being a great poet and writer of devotional books, Margaret was a dear friend of mine. So I’ll post this verse in honor of her, as my contribution to National Poetry Month today.

A Rusty Nail

In honour of Good Friday, this poem by Robert W Service will be my contribution today to National Poetry Month:

A Rusty Nail

I ran a nail into my hand,
The wound was hard to heal;
So bitter was the pain to stand
I thought how it would feel,
To have spikes thrust through hands and feet,
Impaled by hammer beat.

Then hoisted on a cross of oak
Against the sullen sky,
With all about the jeering folk
Who joyed to see me die;
Die hardly in insensate heat,
With bleeding hands and feet.

Yet was it not that day of Fate,
Of cruelty insane,
Climaxing centuries of hate
That woke our souls to pain?
And are we not the living seed
Of those who did the deed!

Of course, with thankful heart I know
We are not fiends as then;
And in a thousand years or so
We may be gentle men.
But it has cost a poisoned hand,
And pain beyond a cry,
To make me strangely understand
A Cross against the sky.

Robert William Service