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Jonah 1:1-4:11; Revelation 5:1-14; Psalms 133:1-3; Proverbs 29:26-27 (Contemporary English Version)

Jonah 1-4

Jonah Runs from the Lord

One day the Lord told Jonah, the son of Amittai, to go to the great city of Nineveh[a] and say to the people, “The Lord has seen your terrible sins. You are doomed!”

Instead, Jonah ran from the Lord. He went to the seaport of Joppa and bought a ticket on a ship that was going to Spain. Then he got on the ship and sailed away to escape.

But the Lord made a strong wind blow, and such a bad storm came up that the ship was about to be broken to pieces. The sailors were frightened, and they all started praying to their gods. They even threw the ship’s cargo overboard to make the ship lighter.

All this time, Jonah was down below deck, sound asleep. The ship’s captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep at a time like this? Get up and pray to your God! Maybe he will have pity on us and keep us from drowning.”

Finally, the sailors got together and said, “Let’s ask our gods to show us[b] who caused all this trouble.” It turned out to be Jonah.

They started asking him, “Are you the one who brought all this trouble on us? What business are you in? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”

Jonah answered, “I’m a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 When the sailors heard this, they were frightened, because Jonah had already told them he was running from the Lord. Then they said, “Do you know what you have done?”

11 The storm kept getting worse, until finally the sailors asked him, “What should we do with you to make the sea calm down?”

12 Jonah told them, “Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I’m the cause of this terrible storm.”

13 The sailors tried their best to row to the shore. But they could not do it, and the storm kept getting worse every minute. 14 So they prayed to the Lord, “Please don’t let us drown for taking this man’s life. Don’t hold us guilty for killing an innocent man. All of this happened because you wanted it to.” 15 Then they threw Jonah overboard, and the sea calmed down. 16 The sailors were so terrified that they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made all kinds of promises.

17 The Lord sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

Jonah’s Prayer

From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God:

When I was in trouble, Lord,
I prayed to you,
    and you listened to me.
From deep in the world
    of the dead,
I begged for your help,
    and you answered my prayer.

You threw me down
    to the bottom of the sea.
The water was churning
    all around;
I was completely covered
    by your mighty waves.
I thought I was swept away
    from your sight,
never again to see
    your holy temple.

I was almost drowned
by the swirling waters
    that surrounded me.
Seaweed had wrapped
    around my head.
I had sunk down below
    the underwater mountains;
I knew that forever,
    I would be a prisoner there.

But, you, Lord God,
    rescued me from that pit.
When my life was slipping away,
    I remembered you—
and in your holy temple
    you heard my prayer.

All who worship worthless idols
turn from the God
    who offers them mercy.
But with shouts of praise,
I will offer a sacrifice
    to you, my Lord.
I will keep my promise,
because you are the one
    with power to save.

10 The Lord commanded the fish to vomit up Jonah on the shore. And it did.

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

Once again the Lord told Jonah to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom.

Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took three days just to walk through it. After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!”

They believed God’s message and set a time when they would go without eating to show their sorrow. Then everyone in the city, no matter who they were, dressed in sackcloth.

When the king of Nineveh heard what was happening, he also dressed in sackcloth; he left the royal palace and sat in dust.[c] 7-9 Then he and his officials sent out an order for everyone in the city to obey. It said:

None of you or your animals may eat or drink a thing. Each of you must wear sackcloth, and you must even put sackcloth on your animals.

You must also pray to the Lord God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. Maybe God will change his mind and have mercy on us, so we won’t be destroyed.

10 When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.

Jonah Gets Angry at the Lord

Jonah was really upset and angry. So he prayed:

Our Lord, I knew from the very beginning that you wouldn’t destroy Nineveh. That’s why I left my own country and headed for Spain. You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don’t like to punish anyone, not even foreigners.

Now let me die! I’d be better off dead.

The Lord replied, “What right do you have to be angry?”

Jonah then left through the east gate of the city and made a shelter to protect himself from the sun. He sat under the shelter, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh.

The Lord made a vine grow up to shade Jonah’s head and protect him from the sun. Jonah was very happy to have the vine, but early the next morning the Lord sent a worm to chew on the vine, and the vine dried up. During the day the Lord sent a scorching wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head, making him feel faint. Jonah was ready to die, and he shouted, “I wish I were dead!”

But the Lord asked, “Jonah, do you have the right to be angry about the vine?”

“Yes, I do,” he answered, “and I’m angry enough to die.”

10 But the Lord said:

You are concerned about a vine that you did not plant or take care of, a vine that grew up in one night and died the next. 11 In that city of Nineveh there are more than a hundred twenty thousand people who cannot tell right from wrong, and many cattle are also there. Don’t you think I should be concerned about that big city?

Footnotes:

  1. 1.2 Nineveh: Capital city of Assyria, a hated enemy of Israel.
  2. 1.7 ask. . . show us: The Hebrew text has “cast lots,” which were pieces of wood or stone used to find out how and when to do something. In this case, the lots would show who was the guilty person.
  3. 3.5,6 dressed in sackcloth. . . sat in dust: Sackcloth was a rough, dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. Sometimes people wore sackcloth and sat in dust to show how sorry they were for their sins.
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Revelation 5

The Scroll and the Lamb

In the right hand of the one sitting on the throne I saw a scroll[a] that had writing on the inside and on the outside. And it was sealed in seven places. I saw a mighty angel ask with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or see inside it.

I cried hard because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or see inside it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying and look! The one who is called both the ‘Lion from the Tribe of Judah’[b] and ‘King David’s Great Descendant’[c] has won the victory. He will open the book and its seven seals.”

Then I looked and saw a Lamb standing in the center of the throne that was surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb looked as if it had once been killed. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[d] of God, sent out to all the earth.

The Lamb went over and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. After he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders knelt down before him. Each of them had a harp and a gold bowl full of incense,[e] which are the prayers of God’s people. Then they sang a new song,

“You are worthy
    to receive the scroll
and open its seals,
    because you were killed.
And with your own blood
    you bought for God
people from every tribe,
    language, nation, and race.
10 You let them become kings
    and serve God as priests,
and they will rule on earth.”

11 As I looked, I heard the voices of a lot of angels around the throne and the voices of the living creatures and of the elders. There were millions and millions of them, 12 and they were saying in a loud voice,

“The Lamb who was killed
    is worthy to receive power,
riches, wisdom, strength,
    honor, glory, and praise.”

13 Then I heard all beings in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and in the sea offer praise. Together, all of them were saying,

“Praise, honor, glory,
and strength
    forever and ever
to the one who sits
on the throne
    and to the Lamb!”

14 The four living creatures said “Amen,” while the elders knelt down and worshiped.

Footnotes:

  1. 5.1 scroll: A roll of paper or special leather used for writing on. Sometimes a scroll would be sealed on the outside with one or more pieces of wax.
  2. 5.5 ‘Lion from the Tribe of Judah’: In Genesis 49.9 the tribe of Judah is called a young lion, and King David was from Judah.
  3. 5.5 ‘King David’s Great Descendant’: The Greek text has “the root of David” which is a title for the Messiah based on Isaiah 11.1,10.
  4. 5.6 the seven spirits: Some manuscripts have “the spirits.”
  5. 5.8 incense: A material that produces a sweet smell when burned. Sometimes it is a symbol for the prayers of God’s people.
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Psalm 133

(A song for worship.)

Living Together in Peace

133 It is truly wonderful
    when relatives live together
    in peace.
It is as beautiful as olive oil
    poured on Aaron’s head[a]
    and running down his beard
    and the collar of his robe.
It is like the dew
from Mount Hermon,
    falling on Zion’s mountains,
where the Lord has promised
to bless his people
    with life forevermore.

Footnotes:

  1. 133.2 head: Olive oil was poured on Aaron’s head to show that God had chosen him to be the high priest.
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Proverbs 29:26-27

26 Many try to make friends
    with a ruler,
    but justice comes
    from the Lord.
27 Good people and criminals
    can’t stand each other.

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