The Lord’s Grace and Mercy in Jonah’s Prayer







When my life was fainting away,

I remembered the LORD,

and my prayer came to you,

into your holy temple.

(Jonah 2:7 ESV)

The mercy and grace of God to Jonah is so breathtaking it almost makes your heart skip a beat. Jonah is going down to his death underneath the sea. He deserves to drown due to his rebellion toward the Almighty and his apathy toward the unbelief of the pagan sailors. Before his lungs burst, he is able to eek out a prayer to the Lord. He is certain that the Lord will hear him.

  • It is grace that he knows that the Almighty both can and will hear him in spite of his rebellion.
  • It is grace that there is a Temple in which the Lord, above the Ark of the Covenant, makes his presence known to his people.
  • It is grace that the Lord condescends to hear – from his Temple – Jonah’s words of repentance and contrition, as He initially promised in Deuteronomy 30, five centuries before Solomon made his Temple dedication-requests for mercy in 1 Kings 8, and more than six centuries before Jonah cries out from the depths.
  • It is grace that the Lord crushed Jonah in such a manner that He could learn that the Lord’s mercy will extend as far as the bottom of the sea. Jonah gets a hugely memorable experience of God’s eternal, covenant love.
  • It is grace that God gave Jonah the faculties to mentally calculate something like, “Lord, you are in your Temple, and you said that if someone cried out to you that you would hear. If there is any way you can rescue me – mercifully, mightily, miraculously, and majestically – please forgive my rebellion and come save me, for salvation belongs to you.”
  • It is grace that this experience reveals the holiness of God to Jonah – “your holy Temple” (Heb. היכל קדשך) – and thus Jonah’s sinfulness before this holy God.

It is grace to us that we have the story of Jonah, the sign of Jonah, and the antitype of Jonah in Christ. His mercy to us on the Cross and in vacating the grave is greater than being rescued from drowning at the bottom of the sea.


A resource highlighting the grace and mercy of God: Richard D. Phillips’ commentary on Jonah.


Teaching Theology of Media

imagesI am looking forward to teaching Theological Interpretation of Media for Capital Seminary and Graduate School in late December. For many years I have enjoyed informally applying Hirsch and Johnson’s hermeneutic(s) to TV and film in a session or two of courses on biblical interpretation. Now we will have an entire course to consider ideas in the likes of The Matrix, 24, Inception, and No Country for Old Men (and comparing the portrayal its main theme to similar portrayals in Saving Private Ryan and Meet Joe Black). The goal of the class is to develop a personal theology of media. I am thinking a list of affirmations and denials might be good. Maybe the class can develop a Chicago Statement on Biblical Analysis of Popular Media and Use of Media Technology.

When the Lights Go Down (Westbow Press, 2014), by my colleague, Mark Eckel, will be available in time for the course. Works by Phil Ryken and Paul Munson too will aid us in thinking Christianly about media.

Charles Barkley and Boomer Esiason on Andrian Peterson

imagesCharles Barkley, thank you for putting Boomer Esiason in his place on The NFL Today today. You are right: The Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson went too far in his discipline of his son to the point of abusing him. This should not happen to any child; this should not be tolerated by the NFL. Yet spanking a child, even with a long, spinley-thin branch of a tree, is common to African American life in our history (even though I have not experienced or administered such).

While walking through the wake of a friend’s loved one yesterday morning, the positive pictures of President Barak Obama hanging in the church reminded me that ethnic culture affects everything. I could not imagine seeing a picture of the President displayed anywhere in an evangelical church of one of my non-African American counterparts. However, I was not shocked to see the Barak Obama calendar, advertisement for a youth jobs fair sponsored by an African American member of Congress, or flyers related to the Sunday School literature produced by an African American publisher present in the foyer of this African American congregation.

Neither was I shocked to hear the lawyer of  Adrian Peterson say, ““He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas.” This is not a statement whose contents should be dismissed as obvious – i.e., most people tend to discipline their children the way in which they were disciplined. Instead, the lawyer was making a statement that portrays Peterson within the context of common African American life.

Unfortunately, the call to “revisit” the issue of corporate discipline is misguided by comparisons of “1964” and “the South” to “now” and alternative parenting methods (of discipline) in use today. In reply to these calls, Denny Burk as a good post.

R. R. Reno on Ferguson, MO in First Things


R. R. Reno on Ferguson:

It pains me to admit it, but I see nothing new in the tragic events in Ferguson, nothing new in the protests, which often blended into festivals of destruction, nothing new in the extensive coverage and the calls for our nation to confront racism. It’s an old script, often replayed.


Policeman Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown may have been unwarranted and even criminal. A thorough investigation is needed to see that justice is done. Whatever the outcome of that investigation, we should not turn our eyes from the fact the killing of a black teenager is a daily occurrence in America. They are six times more likely to be killed than young white men. “Young black man dies in gunfire. Mother mourns.” A journalist on the city beat writes these words again and again and again.


Those deaths sometimes trigger protests. Here in New York a black man, Eric Garner, was killed when a policeman put him into a chokehold, leading to a series of protests. But they’re rarely as explosive those in Ferguson. And even when they are they rarely end up changing much. Perhaps that’s because we’ve all—black and white—decided to accept the fact that the culture of poor blacks is violent, dangerous, and dysfunctional. The best we can do is keep the violence under control with aggressive policing and incarceration.

Read the whole thing here.


Richard D. Phillips’ Commentary on the Fourth Gospel

UnknownI am grateful to see the arrival of Richard D. Phillips’, John: Reformed Expository Commentary (P&R). Phillips’ is a tremendous expositor of Scripture. I have enjoyed using both his Hebrews and Jonah & Micah commentaries in my pulpit and classroom preparations. Phillips’ expository publishing output is significant too, as evidenced by his additional commentaries on 1 Samuel and Zechariah. He also is no mean theologian, as we have witnessed in his recent discussions surrounding the theology of sanctification.




Jeremy Treat: The Crucified King









I am enjoying greatly Jeremy Treat’s, The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology (Zondervan)! Treat has done a tremendous job in wedding Biblical Theology and Systematic – or Dogmatic – Theology, or rather, in seeing how the Biblical text yields the fruit of both. In particular, others have demonstrated the Markan use of Isaiah in Mark’s portrayal of Christ as King and the crucified one. But they have not done it to the degree that Treat has, neither have they shown so interdependently how “King” guards the truth of the Cross (Systematics), and that the Cross/atonement – as developed through Redemptive History – is what beautifies the role of the King (Biblical Theology). You can read the thoughts of others on Treat’s work below.

I also am most eager for the arrival of Richard D. Phillips’ commentary on John in the Reformed Expository Commentary series (P&R).

Others on Treat’s work:

Jamieson’s review at 9marks

The koinonia blog excerpt



Still Hoping Someone Will Find Relisha Rudd

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Now that 8-year old Relisha Rudd’s abduction, disappearance, and possible human-trafficking no longer is front page news, I hope she will not be forgotten. Please keep praying for her and her family, and that the authorities will bring to justice those who abducted her. Consider joining the Facebook Page dedicated to keeping her case and memory alive.

Relisha’s information at National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.