Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 124

Jonah 1–4, Haggai 1–2

Bible text(s)

Jonah Disobeys the LORD

1One day the LORD spoke to Jonah son of Amittai. 2He said, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and speak out against it; I am aware how wicked its people are.” 3Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the LORD. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship about to go to Spain. He paid his fare and went aboard with the crew to sail to Spain, where he would be away from the LORD. 4But the LORD sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up. 5The sailors were terrified and cried out for help, each one to his own god. Then, in order to lessen the danger, they threw the cargo overboard. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone below and was lying in the ship's hold, sound asleep.

6The captain found him there and said to him, “What are you doing asleep? Get up and pray to your god for help. Maybe he will feel sorry for us and spare our lives.”

7The sailors said to one another, “Let's draw lots and find out who is to blame for getting us into this danger.” They did so, and Jonah's name was drawn. 8So they said to him: “Now then, tell us! Who is to blame for this? What are you doing here? What country do you come from? What is your nationality?”

9“I am a Hebrew,” Jonah answered. “I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made land and sea.” 10Jonah went on to tell them that he was running away from the LORD.

The sailors were terrified, and said to him, “That was an awful thing to do!” 11The storm was getting worse all the time, so the sailors asked him, “What should we do to you to stop the storm?”

12Jonah answered, “Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I know it is my fault that you are caught in this violent storm.”

13Instead, the sailors tried to get the ship to shore, rowing with all their might. But the storm was getting worse and worse, and they got nowhere. 14So they cried out to the LORD, “O LORD, we pray, don't punish us with death for taking this man's life! You, O LORD, are responsible for all this; it is your doing.” 15Then they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and it calmed down at once. 16This made the sailors so afraid of the LORD that they offered a sacrifice and promised to serve him.

17At the LORD's command a large fish swallowed Jonah, and he was inside the fish for three days and nights.

Jonah's Prayer

1From deep inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God:

2“In my distress, O LORD, I called to you,

and you answered me.

From deep in the world of the dead

I cried for help, and you heard me.

3You threw me down into the depths,

to the very bottom of the sea,

where the waters were all round me,

and all your mighty waves rolled over me.

4I thought I had been banished from your presence

and would never see your holy Temple again.

5The water came over me and choked me;

the sea covered me completely,

and seaweed was wrapped round my head.

6I went down to the very roots of the mountains,

into the land whose gates lock shut for ever.

But you, O LORD my God,

brought me back from the depths alive.

7When I felt my life slipping away,

then, O LORD, I prayed to you,

and in your holy Temple you heard me.

8Those who worship worthless idols

have abandoned their loyalty to you.

9But I will sing praises to you;

I will offer you a sacrifice

and do what I have promised.

Salvation comes from the LORD!”

10Then the LORD ordered the fish to spew Jonah up on the beach, and it did.

Jonah Obeys the LORD

1Once again the LORD spoke to Jonah. 2He said, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to the people the message I have given you.” 3So Jonah obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to walk through it. 4Jonah started through the city, and after walking a whole day, he proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed!”

5The people of Nineveh believed God's message. So they decided that everyone should fast, and all the people, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth to show that they had repented.

6When the king of Nineveh heard about it, he got up from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth, and sat down in ashes. 7He sent out a proclamation to the people of Nineveh: “This is an order from the king and his officials: no one is to eat anything; all persons, cattle, and sheep are forbidden to eat or drink. 8All persons and animals must wear sackcloth. Everyone must pray earnestly to God and must give up his wicked behaviour and his evil actions. 9Perhaps God will change his mind; perhaps he will stop being angry, and we will not die!”

10God saw what they did; he saw that they had given up their wicked behaviour. So he changed his mind and did not punish them as he had said he would.

Jonah's Anger and God's Mercy

1Jonah was very unhappy about this and became angry. 2So he prayed, “LORD, didn't I say before I left home that this is just what you would do? That's why I did my best to run away to Spain! I knew that you are a loving and merciful God, always patient, always kind, and always ready to change your mind and not punish. 3Now, LORD, let me die. I am better off dead than alive.”

4The LORD answered, “What right have you to be angry?”

5Jonah went out east of the city and sat down. He made a shelter for himself and sat in its shade, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh. 6Then the LORD God made a plant grow up over Jonah to give him some shade, so that he would be more comfortable. Jonah was extremely pleased with the plant. 7But at dawn the next day, at God's command, a worm attacked the plant, and it died. 8After the sun had risen, God sent a hot east wind, and Jonah was about to faint from the heat of the sun beating down on his head. So he wished he were dead. “I am better off dead than alive,” he said.

9But God said to him, “What right have you to be angry about the plant?”

Jonah replied, “I have every right to be angry — angry enough to die!”

10The LORD said to him, “This plant grew up in one night and disappeared the next; you didn't do anything for it, and you didn't make it grow — yet you feel sorry for it! 11How much more, then, should I have pity on Nineveh, that great city. After all, it has more than 120,000 innocent children in it, as well as many animals!”

The LORD's Command to Rebuild the Temple

1During the second year that Darius was emperor of Persia, on the first day of the sixth month, the LORD spoke through the prophet Haggai. The message was for the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and for the High Priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak.

2The LORD Almighty said to Haggai, “These people say that this is not the right time to rebuild the Temple.” 3The LORD then gave this message to the people through the prophet Haggai: 4“My people, why should you be living in well-built houses while my Temple lies in ruins? 5Don't you see what is happening to you? 6You have sown much corn, but have harvested very little. You have food to eat, but not enough to make you full. You have wine to drink, but not enough to get drunk on! You have clothing, but not enough to keep you warm. And a worker cannot earn enough to live on. 7Can't you see why this has happened? 8Now go up into the hills, get timber, and rebuild the Temple; then I will be pleased and will be worshipped as I should be.

9“You hoped for large harvests, but they turned out to be small. And when you brought the harvest home, I blew it away. Why did I do that? Because my Temple lies in ruins while every one of you is busy working on his own house. 10That is why there is no rain and nothing can grow. 11I have brought drought on the land — on its hills, cornfields, vineyards, and olive orchards — on every crop the ground produces, on people and animals, on everything you try to grow.”

The People Obey the LORD's Command

12Then Zerubbabel and Joshua and all the people who had returned from the exile in Babylonia, did what the LORD their God told them to do. They were afraid and obeyed the prophet Haggai, the LORD's messenger. 13Then Haggai gave the LORD's message to the people: “I will be with you — that is my promise.” 14The LORD inspired everyone to work on the Temple: Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah; Joshua, the High Priest, and all the people who had returned from the exile. They began working on the Temple of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15on the 24th day of the sixth month of the second year that Darius was emperor.

The Splendour of the New Temple

1On the 21st day of the seventh month of that same year, the LORD spoke again through the prophet Haggai. 2He told Haggai to speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, to Joshua, the High Priest, and to the people, and to say to them, 3“Is there anyone among you who can still remember how splendid the Temple used to be? How does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all. 4But now don't be discouraged, any of you. Do the work, for I am with you. 5When you came out of Egypt, I promised that I would always be with you. I am still with you, so do not be afraid.

6“Before long I will shake heaven and earth, land and sea. 7I will overthrow all the nations, and their treasures will be brought here, and the Temple will be filled with wealth. 8All the silver and gold of the world is mine. 9The new Temple will be more splendid than the old one, and there I will give my people prosperity and peace.” The LORD Almighty has spoken.

The Prophet Consults the Priests

10On the 24th day of the ninth month of the second year that Darius was emperor, the LORD Almighty spoke again to the prophet Haggai. 11He said, “Ask the priests for a ruling on this question: 12Suppose someone takes a piece of consecrated meat from a sacrifice and carries it in a fold of his robe. If he then lets his robe touch any bread, cooked food, wine, olive oil, or any kind of food at all, will it make that food consecrated also?”

When the question was asked, the priests answered, “No.”

13Then Haggai asked, “Suppose someone is defiled because he has touched a dead body. If he then touches any of these foods, will that make them defiled too?”

The priests answered, “Yes.”

14Then Haggai said, “The LORD says that the same thing applies to the people of this nation and to everything they produce; and so everything they offer on the altar is defiled.”

The LORD Promises his Blessing

15The LORD says, “Can't you see what has happened to you? Before you started to rebuild the Temple, 16you would go to a heap of corn expecting to find 200 kilogrammes, but there would be only a hundred. You would go to draw a hundred litres of wine from a vat, but find only forty. 17I sent scorching winds and hail to ruin everything you tried to grow, but still you did not repent. 18Today is the 24th day of the ninth month, the day that the foundation of the Temple has been completed. See what is going to happen from now on. 19Although there is no corn left, and the grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced, yet from now on I will bless you.”

The LORD's Promise to Zerubbabel

20On that same day, the 24th of the month, the LORD gave Haggai a second message 21for Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah: “I am about to shake heaven and earth 22and overthrow kingdoms and end their power. I will overturn chariots and their drivers; the horses will die, and their riders will kill one another. 23On that day I will take you, Zerubbabel my servant, and I will appoint you to rule in my name. You are the one I have chosen.” The LORD Almighty has spoken.

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