Posted in iraq, ISIS, jonah, mercy, muslim nineveh

God loves the Muslim terrorists of ISIS

I’ve written before of how many parallels there are between the ancient Ninevites and their brutality, and today’s ISIS members and their terrorism. From the same region as Nineveh, Assyria now comes ISIS, which one of their own leaders called/calls himself “Prince of Nineveh.” We know that the ancient Assyrians did not worship God but were pagan.

The ancient Ninevites were so held in terror and fear, and so firmly did the hapless cities which lay in their path know this, that oftentimes all the Assyrians had to do is march to a city and announce to the besieged residents a list all the other cities they had conquered, and capitulation would ensue almost immediately. (2 Chronicles 32:18)

As for their gleeful, maniacal brutality, the ancient Assyrians used to push meathooks into the jaws of captured prisoners of war and march them back to Nineveh. Others, they threw off ramparts as a warning, or skinned them alive and hung the skins over the walls to graphically illustrate the penalty for opposing them. Ancient Ninevites were brutal, bringing new meaning to the word.

ISIS is the same. From the exact region of ancient Nineveh, we see a re-emergence of that same demonic spirit. One of gleeful brutality, of worship of satanic gods, of horror and shock. We see swords flashing, heads rolling, blood-stained beaches, children fleeing, houses burning. We see exultation amid the black hooded ISIS men, and we pray for the people in their path, just as sister cities Lachish (which was conquered by the Assyrians, 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 32, Micah 1:13) and Jerusalem (which wasn’t, 2 Chronicles 32:1-33, 2 Kings 19:35) endured.

Judean captives being led away into slavery by the Assyrians
after the siege of Lachish in 701 B.C.

But God loved the Ninevites.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)

We know from the biblical account that Jonah did not do this. He fled in the other direction. Why, we’re never quite told. Perhaps Jonah was afraid. After all, no one likes having a meathook put in their jaw and being led across the desert sands as a captive. Perhaps Jonah had had family that was killed at Lachish or some other place. Perhaps Jonah was simply afraid. We do know that Jonah resented God’s version of justice. Salvation and repentance were not for the Ninevites, thought Jonah. “Why should they get it?” (Jonah 4:1)

The ancient Assyrian royal city of Kalhu, The archaeological site of Nimrud
was known in antiquity as Kalhu (biblical Calah). It is located just to the east
of the Tigris river, in what is nowadays northern Iraq, some 30 km (roughly 20 miles)
south of the the modern city of Mosul. Although Nimrud is now a peaceful archaeological
site in the countryside, in ancient times Kalhu was a huge and bustling city. It served
as the capital of the mighty Assyrian empire for nearly 200 years, from the early 9th to
the late 8th century BC, but was also inhabited for many centuries before and after.

Soon, Jonah needed to repent for his disobedience and hope in the LORD’s mercy be extended to himself. And it was. God delivered Jonah from the great fish and then said a second time to go preach judgment, repentance and salvation to the Ninevites.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. (Jonah 3:1-3a)

The evil, brutal people heard the LORD in Jonah.

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. (Jonah 3:5)

Starting with the King.

And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:7-10)

God loves the ISIS terrorists, the folks of modern day Nineveh (Mosul) and all pagan peoples. We know this because back in the day God did the best thing possible for them: He sent Jonah to preach judgment and righteousness to them so that they may know the LORD. Today He sends missionaries for the same reason.

And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11)

The main lesson of the book. If Jonah so pities a plant which cost him no toil to rear, and which is so short lived and valueless, much more must Jehovah pity those hundreds of thousands of immortal men and women in great Nineveh whom He has made with such a display of creative power, especially when many of them repent, and seeing that, if all in it were destroyed, “more than six score thousand” of unoffending children, besides “much cattle,” would be involved in the common destruction: Compare the same argument drawn from God’s justice and mercy in Gen 18:23–33.

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

but the persons in Nineveh whom God had compassion on were all the work of his own hands, whose being he was the author of, whose lives he was the preserver of, whom he planted and made to grow; he made them, and his they were, and therefore he had much more reason to have compassion on them, for he cannot despise the work of his own hands (Job 10:3). … That though God may suffer his people to fall into sin, yet he will not suffer them to lie still in it, but will take a course effectually to show them their error, and to bring them to themselves and to their right mind again…That God will justify himself in the methods of his grace towards repenting returning sinners as well as in the course his justice takes with those that persist in their rebellion

Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.

We can be a part of the effort to urge mercy rather than judgment. God loves and pities His wayward people, even the brutal ones.

there is one Lord over all, that is rich in mercy to all that call upon him, and in every nation, in Nineveh as well as in Israel, he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him; he that repents, and turns from his evil way, shall find mercy with him

Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.

Posted in babylon, glory, ISIS, jesus, jonah, Mosul, Nineveh, prophecy

"Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum," Prophecy and Mosul/Nineveh

God said ‘Jonah, arise and preach to Nineveh.’ (Jonah 1:1-2)

Jonah outside Nineveh’s gate. Rembrandt

We know the rest of the story. Initially Jonah refused, and ran in the other direction. He boarded a ship and sailed away. God sent a storm and overboard Jonah went. As Jonah contemplated his options on the way down to the bottom of the sea, he relented and acknowledged the sovereignty of God. He accepted the call to preach repentance to Nineveh. God had appointed a big fish and the fish swallowed Jonah and then spit him up back to where he began. Hoisting his toga, Jonah set off for Nineveh, heeding God’s call.

It was ‘an exceedingly great city’ some three days’ travel in breadth. Some historians calculate that as many as 250,000 lived in Nineveh. For several decades it was the largest city in the world. When Jonah preached, all the Ninevites repented, from the king on down to the lowliest peasant. All of them. It surely was a great move of God and a great shower of grace upon the many people of Nineveh.

Nineveh’s Adad gate exterior entrance. Wiki CC

God’s move was so powerful and so amazing that even till this day Eastern Orthodox churches of the Middle East commemorate the three days Jonah spent inside the fish during the “Fast of Nineveh”. There are streets named after Jonah in the Middle East and monuments to him. There are even several places claiming to be his tomb. He is known to Muslims as Nabi Yunus, and Prophet Jonah is mentioned in the Q’uran. Therefore we see that God’s move was SO GREAT that the vestigial memory of it rests in the hearts and minds of even the most blinded and spiritually distant from God.

Unfortunately, the Ninevites’ repentant attitude was not permanent and Prophet Nahum records Nineveh’s end. One hundred years later, they had gone back to their ways. Nahum says that it was a city full of blood, lies, and plunder. God said He would make an utter desolation of the city and He did.

The city was so obliterated by 400BC the city of Nineveh itself had passed into history. Even the very name was forgotten. The city was buried so well it was never re-discovered until 1842.

In 1842, French Consul General at Mosul, Paul-Émile Botta began to search the vast mounds that lay along the opposite bank of the river. The Arabs whom he employed in these excavations, to their great surprise, came upon the ruins of a building at the mound of Khorsabad, which, on further exploration, turned out to be the royal palace of Sargon II, which was largely explored for sculptures and other precious relics. Wikipedia

Today’s Nineveh overlaps Mosul. Mosul is in Iraq, or what used to be Iraq, now that the ISIS group has taken over and established “The Islamic State”. You might know that the goal of the Caliphate is to have 100% of all residents in it compliant to Allah. If someone is not a Muslim, they must pay jizya, a religious tax to the dhimmi (community). Or convert. Or die.

Nineveh’s Mashki gate from the west. Wiki CC

The leaders of ISIS issued an ultimatum recently to that very effect. Before the war in Iraq in 2003, there were about 65,000 Christians living there. That is according to official records. However, spiritually, most of those are not Christians, because they adhere to an Eastern Orthodox religion, which is false. Personally I cannot say that the numbers were so large, but we do know that at out of 65,000 claiming Christianity, least some are true Christians.

Remember, Iraq is also home to Baghdad, AKA Babylon, the first city which Nimrod built and future history’s (almost) the last city; a city which will be the prophetic focus of the Tribulation. It has been said that the bible could be subtitled “A Tale of Two Cities: Jerusalem and Babylon.” What I’m saying is, the area has a long, loooong spiritual history. Moreover, and future history will dwindle down to events in this exact region.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq about half the Christians left. After ISIS came, 10,000 more left. Suffice to say that life for a true Christian in this war-torn, spiritually hostile ground zero place would be hard. And this week, it just got harder.

Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum

Iraqi Christians are fleeing Mosul after Islamist militants threatened to kill them unless they converted to Islam or paid a “protection tax”. A statement issued by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) was read out at the city’s mosques. It called on Christians to comply by midday on Saturday or face death if they did not leave the northern city. Isis has control of large parts of Syria and Iraq and said last month it was creating an Islamic caliphate. The ultimatum cited a historic contract known as “dhimma,” under which non-Muslims in Islamic societies who refuse to convert are offered protection if they pay a fee, called a “jizya”. “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the Isis statement said.

This is very similar to the upcoming ultimatum that the antichrist will issue. The antichrist will locate headquarters in Babylon. At the Tribulation, the antichrist will force all to worship him by accepting a mark on their hand or forehead. Or be excluded from the economy and unable to buy or sell, and then to be beheaded. (Revelation 13:16-17).

In addition to the hostility against perceived Christians, the ISIS people also took a sledgehammer to “Jonah’s tomb” in Mosul.

Shocking moment ISIS militants take sledgehammers to Mosul tomb of Prophet Jonah

Donning balaclavas and black coats, they swung sledgehammers into the tombs, causing pieces of dust and stone to fly through the air. One of the devastated tombstones belonged to the Prophet Jonah (Younis in Arabic) and was revered by Muslims and Christians alike, according to Iraqi authorities. Speaking of the latest attack, Ninevah official Zuhair Al-Chalabi, told ‘The elements of ISIS [have] controlled the mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul since they invaded the city.’  

It should be noted that there are also alleged burial sites for Jonah in Hebron, Lebanon, and Galilee in addition to Mosul.

We should:

1. Pray for the true Christians in the Middle East. As Joel Rosenberg calls it, it is “the epicenter” because geologically the epicenter is the point on the earth above the center of the earthquake. It aptly describes Israel, Jerusalem, and the countries surrounding her. Geographically, God considers Israel the center of the world. (Ezekiel 5:5) as Rosenberg explains here. Spiritually, it all comes down to God and His people, and history’s last events will be located in Jerusalem and surrounding environs.

From this moment forward, whenever you are reading this, life will only be harder for Christians there. Jews also. Every day will be harder than the day before it.

2. Pray for the rapture. (2 Timothy 4:8). It is spiritually all right to pray for a time of deliverance, in so doing, acknowledging your citizenship (heaven), identifying yourself with the promises of Jesus, and wanting to be where there is no more pain.

3. Be strong in the word. Persevere, and in so doing, being the Light of Hope within us. Let it shine, your patience, calm, and hope will be a balm to those around you.

4. Study scripture and memorize it. Even in America, the time is coming and might already be here when we will need to rely on memory for scripture- as possessing a bible may soon be not-possible. The noose is tightening daily. Apostasy is rising and as John MacArthur said, “Cultural Christianity is dying at warp speed.” I’ll do another blog post later today about that. Therefore we should be aware of what is happening in the world and in our nations, and in that way we can be responsible to our duties as Christians on behalf of the glory of God.

5. Always shine the glory back to Him, He is the originator of the world, the sustainer of the world, and the King, Lord, and Judge of the world, He deserves all glory and acknowledgement in all we say and do. At the very moment that attitude is becoming more rare, is when we need to display it the most.


Further reading:

Topical Bible: Nineveh

Posted in church bulletin bloopers, jonah, mary margaret

Fun links

Here are some fun links for you.

Said Fred Butler, (@Fred_Butler) “College liberal memes. You’ll chuckle, I promise.” Fred was right.

This one was my favorite:

The Sacred Sandwich has a take on the overflowing gardens of this time of year. Yesterday in church a friend brought me a bag of green tomatoes. I saw other bags exchanged among other brethren, too. Garden bounty!

Did you ever read an oops in your church bulletin? We all laugh and take it in good humor and gentle stride when that happens. Here are some Bulletin Bloopers, there are more at this link.

  1. Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
  2. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
  3. The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
  4. On a church bulletin during the minister’s illness: GOD IS GOOD; Dr. Hargreaves is better.
  5. Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.
  6. The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”
  7. If you would like to make a donation, fill out a form, enclose a check, and drip in the collection basket.
  8. Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on “It’s a Terrible Experience.”
  9. Don’t miss this Saturday’s exhibit by Christian Martian Arts.
  10. We are grateful for the help of those who cleaned up the grounds around the church building and the rector.
  11. A worm welcome to all who have come today.
  12. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Nelson’s sermons.
  13. During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
  14. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  15. The ushers will come forward and take our ties and offerings.
  16. The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Reverend and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
  17. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  18. Don’t let worry kill you off – let the church help.
  19. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.
  20. Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of their wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.
  21. Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.
  22. Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.
  23. The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
  24. The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
  25. Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30p.m. Please use the back door.

For those who haven’t seen this gem from Mary Margaret Douglas. It is a must-see.

If you don’t know about Simon’s Cat, then you need to. Anyone with a cat will relate to this, and the dozens of other cay clips Simon creates. They are hilarious, every time.

Enjoy the laughs!

Posted in giant fish, jonah

Jonah as a type of Christ

I am fascinated with Jonah. Four short chapters, concise and not a word wasted, but packs a powerful punch.

Isaiah was beloved. He saw God and was cleansed in the holy heavenly temple. Elijah is revered- and is to come again. So fervently do they look for Elijah that Jews set a place for him at the Passover table. Daniel was noted by God to be a righteous one among men. (Ezekiel 14:14). But Jonah? The disobedient one? Not so much.

Yet … through Jonah’s preaching God converted the largest city on earth. Jonah’s story carries with it fantastical but true elements of runaway prophet, giant fish, death or near-death experiences, raging storms, begrudging task completion, a small worm and a withering shade tree. So many miracles pack Jonah it boggles the mind- ten of them in four short chapters.

And most amazingly, of all the prophets God sent, Jesus identified himself not with powerful Elijah, not with beloved Isaiah, not with righteous Daniel- but with runaway Jonah.

It has been said that Jonah is a type of Christ. To me, this is an interesting juxtaposition. After all, Jesus was the only human on earth to be perfect, sinless, and in complete obedience with the Father. So how or why is Jonah a type of Christ?

I’ll tell you before we go on that I don’t know the answer to that question. The why, anyway. But here is what my research uncovered on how Jonah as a type of Christ can be compared to THE Christ.

First, here is what Jesus said when referring to Jonah:

But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:39-41).

What did Jesus mean that He would give no such sign? Perhaps that He would give one that should be as satisfactory proof to them that he was from God, as the miraculous preservation of Jonah was to the Ninevites that he was divinely commissioned. I mean, how many miracles do they need?

The Ninevites, pagans after all, recognized God’s work on first preaching. The Pharisees and unbelieving Jewish generation required miracle after miracle and still they refused to repent. That’s why the Ninevites’ example condemns the Pharisees and Jewish unbelievers.

To this day the tradition of what Jonah did at Nineveh remains. The city fell into ruin eventually and was covered over by desert sands for many generations. The city was not re-discovered until the 1800s. Yet throughout the entire time, the power of God through Jonah stayed. The area was always called and referred to by locals as Tell Nabi Yunus. A tell or tel, is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides. (Wiki). Nabi is Hebrew for Prophet. Yunus, swapping the J for a Y is a transliteration of Jonah. In Greek it is Ionas.

So the ruins of Nineveh, near Mosul Iraq, means ‘ruin of the Prophet Jonah’. The work that God did there was known and understood and remembered to be a great work of God.

There are several other parallels to the Jonah-Jesus story. Jonah’s name means ‘dove’ by the way. Both were from Galilee. Though the Pharisees said no prophet comes from Galilee, they were so desperate to discredit Jesus that they forgot that Jonah was from Galilee. (John 7:52).

Both Jonah and Jesus were sent first to Jews and then the Gentiles.

They were both wiling to die for their people. Jonah first by perhaps expecting to be slain for disobeying God (as the example in 1 Kings 13:23 indicates happens to disobedient prophets) and then when Jonah urged the sailors to throw him overboard. We already know Jesus died as the sacrifice for all people.

They both preached and the Jews refused but the Gentiles accepted.

They both slept in a boat in a storm.

When the storm got worse, both sets of sailors asked the same question of Jonah and of Jesus: ‘How can you sleep? Can’t you see we’re perishing?’

Jonah 1:6- “So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Mark 4:38- “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

The sailors asked God not to hold it against them as a sin that they shed innocent blood, and Judas told God he knew he had shed innocent blood.

Jonah 1:14- “Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.”’

Matthew 27:4a- “saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

And yet a startling difference, that couldn’t be more apparent, is that Jonah had no compassion for the Gentiles and was disobedient.Jesus is perfect. Huh.

Below is a chart I’d made when pondering these things. It was the boat in a storm that made me start comparing. If  you are reading along and you’re reminded of an incident or a verse in another part of the bible, turn to it. Slowly examine it, looking carefully at the language. That is how I found the perishing language and the innocent blood language. Then read credible commentaries and/or listen to sermons from good expositors. The bible will become more deep to you. It is how the Spirit applies truths to our hearts.

I just started jotting them down and then, being visual, I put them into a chart so I could see them side by side. I love the Old Testament for painting pictures for us that in the New Testament become principles. Brethren, don’t forsake the OT. There is so much there, and it is a joy always to discover more in God’s word.

I don’t know the answer to why Jonah & Jesus slept, or how Jonah is a type of Christ, but I sure did have fun exploring. My faith is such that I know the Spirit will show me more in His timing, either on this side of the veil or surely in the next.

This side: “But God hath revealed them< unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Other side: “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Thanks for reading. 🙂

Posted in end time, end time. prophecy, gray whale Israel coast, jonah, signs

Gray Whale found swimming off Israel

Jesus said that there would be signs to indicate His coming at the end of the age. In the Olivet Discourse with His disciples, Jesus lengthily answered the Disciples’ questions as to these warning signs. (Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 17:20-3) He wanted us to look to those signs as proof of His word. (Matthew 24:25 & Matthew 24:42).

To the Pharisees, however, the hypocritical and unbelieving Pharisees who kept pestering Jesus for a sign that would prove He is the Messiah rather than relying on faith and belief, He gave a completely different answer. In Matthew 12:38-42 He rebuked them sharply, “But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

You know the story. God wanted Jonah to preach to the fallen in the city of Nineveh (which is today’s Mosul, Iraq). Jonah hated Nineveh and ran away. He boarded a boat and a storm came. Soon the men noticed that Jonah was the cause of the storm so Jonah abashedly allowed them to toss him overboard. Jonah was swallowed by a whale (actually a great fish), and was inside its belly for three days and nights. (Jonah 1)

A careful reading of Jonah 2 will elicit the interpretation that as Jonah was sinking to the bottom of the sea and falling unconscious, he prayed for forgiveness, then died. My stance is biblically supported through the verses of Jonah 1:2; 5-7; and through Mt 12:38-40, but more on that in a moment). God sent the fish to scoop up Jonah, who was kept for three days inside the great fish’s belly and then spit up on land, alive.

The Greek renders the word “fish” in this verse dagah. Nineveh at that time was a Dagon-worshiping bunch. Dagon was a Philistine fish-god, referred to in Judges 26:23; I Sam. 5:1-7. Dagon the fish-god is still worshiped today. Imagine the impact of an unbelieving population to have seen a man spit up by a great fish and begin talking about the One True God who trumps this Dagon.

The unbelieving generation to whom Jesus was talking in Matthew 12:38-42 were the Pharisees, who had the advantage of reading the scriptures to verify what they were seeing in front of them, and yet they still refused the Truth. So for the short answer, Jesus compared Jonah’s sign with His upcoming sign. We know that Jesus died and lay in the belly of the earth for three days, and therefore in comparing Him sign with Jonah’s we also conclude Jonah died. Jesus’ warning to look to Jonah should not be dispensed with because He has risen.

So in the news there are things happening that could be called signs. They are certainly perplexing. The planet Jupiter lost a belt. Yes, indeed. One year it was there and next day it wasn’t.

And, off Israel, a gray whale was spotted. So what, you ask? Well, gray whales have been extinct in that part of the world for three hundred years. “The whale population which lives in the northeastern Pacific normally migrates southwards in around October, heading for warmer waters around the Gulf of California in a huge round trip of at least 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers), AFP reported.” It is called the ‘most amazing sighting in history of whales’. It swam for several hours off Herzliya Marina, close to Tel Aviv. They are saying it is a “miracle” and “back from the dead.” Scientists say the North Pacific whale either took an arctic route between ice floes, or Arctic route, swam through the Panama Canal, or continued another 8,000 miles to the south and round Cape Horn at the bottom of South America. Take a look at the map and start tracking a route from Baja CA to Israel either going north to the Bering Sea, south to Cape Horn, or through the Panama Canal across the Atlantic. That is one determined whale.

I have found a useful approach to bible understanding and prophecy interpretation is, after prayer, to just think. Don’t take anything at surface level without asking, “What could it mean?” and asking the Spirit to bring you into deeper understanding. Sure, a gray whale off Israel is an amazing incident. Don’t let it end there, though. Think…Israel…why Israel? The whale could have stopped far, far earlier. There were twenty other countries along a 10,000 mile route he could have stopped at instead of the mere 168 miles along Israel’s land-sea border. Instead, he went through the Straits of Gibraltar or the Suez Canal to specifically get to Israel.

Additionally, when you think of Israel and a whale, what immediately comes to mind? Jonah. And with Jonah, the sign that Jesus Himself gave to a wicked and [spiritually] adulterous generation of their need to repent and believe.

I can’t make a case that the gray whale’s resurrection off the coast of Israel has biblical meaning but even the scientists say it “is bizarre in the extreme“. With bizarre events comes thoughts of Jesus’ promise that the end time will have “fearful events and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11). A sign in the Bible is some event or activity which may or may be supernatural, that would convince OR confirm the Person and claims of Jesus. A sign is usually a miracle with a clear intent; it was a miracle designed to reveal something specific. The Greek word ‘signs’ in that verse means ‘miracle’. “Is the sea off the coast of the Holy Land harboring a miracle? That was the question for biologists after a gray whale appeared off the shores of Israel, Sky News reported on Thursday.”

In my own mind it is not even a question. It is a sign, and with that particular sign we are reminded of the consequences of running from God’s will, His power, and also His redemptive mercy. Will you heed it today?