Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Sunday afternoon Bible study. This is our study in the Book of Jonah, Study #3. It has been about three months since our last study, so let me read Jonah 1:1-17:
Now the word of JEHOVAH came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of JEHOVAH, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of JEHOVAH. But JEHOVAH sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear JEHOVAH, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of JEHOVAH, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto JEHOVAH, and said, We beseech thee, O JEHOVAH, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O JEHOVAH, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared JEHOVAH exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto JEHOVAH, and made vows.
I will stop reading there. Again, to remind us of some things, Jonah is the same word in the Hebrew as “dove.” It means “dove” or “spirit.” In each of the Gospel accounts the dove came down and lighted upon Christ and that was a picture of the Holy Spirit. Jonah is a type and a picture of the Holy Spirit. It also said that Jonah was the “son of Amittai,” and the word “Amittai” means truth and the Lord Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and, of course, the Holy Spirit is completely identified with truth.
The Book of Jonah is only comprised of four short chapters, but it has a very interesting outline. The first two chapters deal primarily with the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit went from the time of Christ to the cross until He rose that early Sunday morning. It also has implication for the Day of Pentecost and the beginning of the church age, but it really does not get into these things. Chapter 1 identifies with Christ’s entry into the human race. For instance, it says in Jonah 1:3: “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of JEHOVAH, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of JEHOVAH.” It is repeated twice that he went from the presence of JEHOVAH and that leads us back to Genesis, chapter 3 when Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God. It says in Genesis 3:7-8:
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of JEHOVAH God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of JEHOVAH God amongst the trees of the garden.
It uses the same phrase, “from the presence of JEHOVAH.” We see this in the world today. Where is the world going? You can look at the world’s religions, philosophies and science, and the world is going “from the presence of JEHOVAH.” They are moving away from God and that is the natural condition of fallen man; they go or flee from God. God is light and the world has entered into darkness and it says in the Gospel of John that people that are in darkness hate the light. If you hate the light, you flee from it and the world has been going “from the presence of JEHOVAH” since the fall of sin in the Garden of Eden. When the Lord Jesus took upon Himself a human nature and was born of the Virgin Mary into the world, He went with them (or with mankind) from the presence of JEHOVAH.
So, Jonah is doing the same. He is getting onboard a ship to go to Tarshish and those on the ship are going from the presence of JEHOVAH and so is he. In taking upon Himself a human nature and entering into the world, Christ is being pictured here. When did Jesus enter into the world? He entered into history in 7BC and 7BC was a Jubilee Year. A Jubilee appears every fifty years, so 7BC was the last of the Old Testament Jubilees and Christ was born in that Jubilee Year, so the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (as typified by Jonah) the first time can be tied to a Jubilee Year. That is when Jesus went “with them from the presence of JEHOVAH,” and that is when Jonah is fleeing to Tarshish.
The Book of Jonah starts with the command, “Arise, go to Nineveh,” and Nineveh is a picture of the world, but Jonah does not do so and, instead, he fled to Tarshish. If you remember, Joppa was a sea port in the Northern part of Israel and Jonah got on board a ship that was going out into the sea and Tarshish was way over here across the sea, but Nineveh was landlocked to the North of Israel; it was part of the land of Assyria, up toward Babylon. So when Jonah was in Joppa getting on board a ship, Nineveh is “behind him,” in a sense, and it seems he is going the opposite direction from Nineveh. This all fits in later when Jonah is cast out of the ship and the great fish swallowed him and spit him out on dry ground. I always had it in my mind that he was vomited out on the shores of Nineveh, but that is impossible because Nineveh is landlocked up North, so if he was vomited out on a shore, it was the shore of Israel or some other land and he would have had to travel all the way by land to Nineveh, where God had originally commanded him to go.
But before the Holy Spirit (as represented by Jonah) could begin evangelizing the earth with His two-part Gospel program (the church age that would bring in the firstfruits from 33AD to 1988 or the Latter Rain that would bring in the great multitude from 1994 to 2011), Christ first had to demonstrate His suffering and death from the foundation of the world. Christ had to enter into the world and go “with them from the presence of JEHOVAH.” He did walk among sinful men for many years.
So in the Book of Jonah, chapter 1 typifies Christ’s lifetime. We can see that when circumstances are arranged by God to the point where they cast Jonah into the sea, it is obviously a picture of Christ coming under the wrath of God and chapter one all works to that end, so it is a chapter that speaks to the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Jonah, chapter 2 Jonah is in the belly of the great fish, a picture of Christ being under the wrath of God in “hell,” which is the grave or death.
As far as chapter 3, it says in Jonah 3:1: “Now the word of JEHOVAH came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh…” God repeats the same command, but now he can do it because all the groundwork has been laid. Christ has already entered into the world and demonstrated His atonement that was done from the foundation of the world, so now all the necessary preparation has been taken care of and he can now go to Nineveh, representing the world, which represents the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit which took place in 1994.
The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit began when Christ was born in 7BC and continued throughout the church age until 1988 when the church age ended. Then there were the grievous 2,300 evening mornings. In God’s program, there is always, rain, followed by famine, followed by rain. There was the early rain of the church age, then famine for 2,300 days and then the Latter Rain came in 1994, the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It says in Isaiah 11, verse 11: “the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.” That identifies with the second outpouring the Holy Spirit and remember that Jonah (dove) is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Twice he was instructed to go to Nineveh and twice in God’s overall salvation program the Holy Spirit was instructed to go into the world to evangelize the earth. In chapter 3 we have that evangelization in Nineveh and its results.
Then we have chapter 4, which is a strange chapter, but it points to the judgment. It is just like chapter 1 is the life and ministry of Christ and then chapter 2 is the judgment of Christ. Chapter 3 is the life and ministry of God’s elect, the body of Christ, during that second outpouring of the Holy Spirit and chapter 4 is the judgment of Jonah. We will look at that when we get to it, but that can relate to the judgment of God’s elect as we make our appearance before the judgment seat of Christ in the prolonged Day of Judgment.
So we really have a neat picture of God’s entire salvation program. There is salvation and judgement and salvation and judgment. There is the birth of Christ in the Jubilee Year in 7BC and then when does Jonah, chapter 2 come to a close? It says in Jonah 2, verse 10: “And JEHOVAH spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” That would be a picture of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in 33AD, so Jonah, chapter 1 covers the span of time from the time He first went with them from the presence of JEHOVAH in 7BC and ends with the “resurrection,” with Jonah being vomited out upon dry land, just as Christ rose early that Sunday morning in 33AD. So, chapters 1 and 2 cover 40 years, from 7BC to 33AD. It is 40 calendar years because there is no year “zero,” so “7 + 33 = 40 -1.” So 40 years is the span, spiritually, covered by Jonah, chapters 1 and 2, but it is actually 39 years.
Then when we get to chapter 3 we are given a “number” when God tells Jonah to proclaim, “Yet forty days,” and it is the same number that is in view in Jonah, chapters 1 and 2, except it was 40 years in that period of time. And 40 days is definitely in view in chapter 3. Then in chapter 4 Jonah went outside the city of Nineveh and he found a vantage point to observe the city to see what would happen, as it says in Jonah 4:5:
So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
How long does he have to wait before he can find out what would become of the city? He had to wait 40 days. So he went into the city a day’s journey and he went out of the city which would have taken another day’s journey and he went up on a hill and built a booth and sat under it. God had a gourd come up over his head to protect him from the hot sun and then God smote the gourd, which means that Jonah was sitting in the booth. The entire time he was out there, he was in a booth. I would recommend listening to one of Mr. Camping’s studies concerning Jonah and the booth on youtube.com. It is very interesting. It relates to the Feast of Tabernacles being the “feast of the Bible.” So until that 40-day period expires, that is the focus of Jonah, chapter 4 and there is an unusual emphasis on “waiting” and “patience” to see what becomes of the city. And that is how the Book of Jonah ends. We never read that it is the end of 40 days and the city was not destroyed – it never says that. It never told us what happens to the city, does it? It just tells us, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Then Jonah is waiting. We know that God spared the city. Actually, we had better wait until we get to chapter 4 before we get into that question.
But, right now, that is the overview and that is why this Book is so important: the first two chapters identify with the ministry of Christ and the last two chapters start with the Jubilee Year in 1994 and covers 40 days. If you were to substitute a “day for a year” it would be 40 years, just like the first two chapters. Forty years from 1994 would take us to the year 2033AD, inclusively, but that is another subject, but it is one of the reasons we want to look at this Book.
Now we are only in Jonah, chapter 1 and we see that once Jonah entered into the ship and was going to Tarshish with them from the presence of JEHOVAH and things do not work out smoothly. They do not go as planned, because it says in Jonah 1:4:
But JEHOVAH sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
God is in control of tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and any kind of natural disaster you can think of, including storms at sea. God is in control and it says in Isaiah, chapter 4 that God creates “evil,” in the sense that these are evil things that happen to mankind, but God is in control of their frequency and intensity. He can cause a relatively gentle storm to pass over an area, like the little rain we just experienced, or God can send high winds and it can be very destructive. God is in control of all things. Do not think that things are “out of control.” They are never out of God’s control and they are never beyond the will of God.
You can look around and, yes, you can see churches out of control in their apostasy or you can see a world that is out of control in just about any area you look – politics, the media, the entertainment industry and even your own neighborhood. It looks like everything and everyone is out of control and, yet, what does the Bible say concerning the time of the end? God had a plan to deliver the world up to its own lusts. If we read Romans, chapter 1 we can read a description of what is happening in the world today. Or, we can read 2Thessolonians, chapter 2 where the man of sin took his seat in the temple and it tells us why the churches are in the condition they are in today. Nothing is “out of control” and the chaos all around us is actually a fulfillment and testimony that God’s will is being accomplished. We read that iniquity will abound and men’s hearts will grow cold and can see it in action and in living color in our lives and the world around us. It is not pleasant, but it is encouragement that we are following God’s end time program step by step.
And God had a purpose and a will for Jonah. He had a place for Jonah to be and that was in Nineveh. Jonah thought he could avoid the will of God and get around the will of God. He thought, “God wants me to go that way, but I am going to go this way. What can the Lord do if I want to go contrary to His will?” Well, God showed us in this case, because it says, “But JEHOVAH sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.” The ship that was transporting him away from the presence of JEHOVAH was “like to be broken” and if it was broken all on board would die, so there was great fear on the ship. It says in Jonah 1:5-7:
Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
They were onboard the ship and there was a terrible storm. It must have just arose and came out of nowhere. These were experienced mariners and they may never have seen anything like this before. Also, they were superstitious men as they called upon their “gods,” so they had a host of different gods that they worshipped and they were not true believers at this point. They thought there must have been something they or someone on the ship had done to cause one of these gods to be angry with them, so they decided to cast lots. The casting of lots was Biblical. It says in Proverbs 16:33:
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of JEHOVAH.
A “lot” was cast. I am not sure what they had. It could have been sticks of various sizes, but the idea is they cast them. We think of dice. There are numbers on a di and you cast it and it lands on a certain number. You can cast a lot, but the one in control is God, according to Proverbs 16, verse 33. God determines who gets the “short straw” and He decides whose fault it is that the storm arose and is about to break the ship. And the lot fell upon Jonah.
The word “disposing” in Proverbs 16, verse 33 is the Hebrew word “mish-pawt” and it is the usual word for “judgment,” but it is also translated in another way in Zephaniah 3:8:
Therefore wait ye upon me, saith JEHOVAH, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations…
So the “lot is cast into the lap,” but the whole determination is of God. We see this in action on the ship, but it is even clearer as it is used in Acts, chapter 1 when Judas hanged himself and the disciples wanted to select another apostle. It says in Acts 1:24-26:
And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Here, they are using the casting of lots to make a decision to choose between two men as to which one should replace Judas as an apostle. When they cast the lot, it fell upon Matthias and they took that to mean that this was the will of God. It was God’s determination that Mathias be the one that would take Judas’ place. There is no hint in the Bible that what they did was in error. That was the purpose of casting lots in a time when God did break the barrier of the supernatural. When they wanted to know God’s will, they cast a lot and since the Bible had not yet been completed, they could expect a response from God and that happened in the casting of lots.
Today the Bible is completed and we would not want to do that. Sometimes we wonder what the will of the Lord is in a matter and what we should do. Well, we would not break out the dice [laughter] and roll the dice. We would not cast lots to determine our options. We do not do that. We pray to the Lord and we ask for wisdom and guidance and then we have to wait on the Lord to see how it will work out and how His will is made known. We can find the will of God in the Scriptures, but decisions like what shirt to wear are not in the Bible and we have to make a decision.
Let us turn to Acts 2:22-23:
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Christ was delivered by “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” which is exactly what happened to Jonah onboard the ship. The ship was going on calm seas and God sent a storm that forced the mariners to question what was going on and they cast lots. The lot fell upon Jonah, which means that God made the determination that Jonah was the reason for the storm. When we read the account in Jonah, chapter 1 Jonah told them that in order for the sea to be calm they would have to cast him into the sea. You see, the circumstances were forcing their hand, even though the mariners still did not want to do this because they just started rowing harder to try to reach land. They were unable to do it because the wind and the sea was too tempestuous, so the circumstances of the storm forced them to finally throw Jonah overboard into the sea. It was all a result of “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.”
It says in Acts 4:26-28:
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Again, circumstances led to Christ being taken in the garden and brought before the Jewish high priest and turned over to the Romans to be brought before Pilate for judgment and, finally, it resulted in Him going to the cross. It was all orchestrated by God. Pilate did not want to crucify Christ. He said, “I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.” Then they cried out that He had made Himself a king and that they had no king but Caesar. They let Pilate know that they were going to tell his superiors that he was permitting someone to act as a king in his area of rule. Pilate felt threatened and it forced him to turn Christ over and then he “washed his hands” of it and said he was innocent of His blood. It was God’s determination through circumstances beyond anyone’s control because God was working behind the scenes. It was all done by “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.”
By the way, let us look at that word “counsel” in another place, as it says in Acts 20:27:
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
This would be referring to the Word of God, the Bible. It is the “counsel” of God. Counsel is whatever the Bible says.
We read about “counsel” again in Ephesians 1:9-11:
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Here is God working behind the scenes, orchestrating events upon a ship. What is it to raise up a storm on the sea when you are the Lord of heaven and earth and you are the God that made the dry land and the sea? It is nothing at all for God to create a storm to force the mariners’ hand and make them do what He wanted them to do. It is nothing for God to work in history in the lives of His people. He can work in my life, your life and in the lives of all the elect over the course of time. He can draw individuals to Himself and arrange circumstances and events in order to bring them under the hearing of the Word of God. It is by hearing that they become saved and if they are elect, God draws them to Himself no matter what the person wills. You see, this is why the “free will gospel” is so alien to the Bible – it has nothing to do with the Bible. The free will gospel lifts up and exalts the will of man, but the true Gospel of the Bible puts down the will of man and exalts the will of God. It is God who is the one that determines who will be saved and it all began in eternity past at the foundation of the world when the Lord Jesus died for the sins of His people. In God’s predestination program it is all according to the counsel of God’s will that was determined long ago in regard to whom He would save or not save. Everything that has to do with salvation can be tied to the will of God. It says in John 1:13:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
It is of God’s will. That is how a person becomes born again. It is not man’s will or the will of the flesh, but it is God’s will that saves.
It says in Romans 9:15:
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Notice that word “will” and it is all of God’s will and nothing contributed by man’s will. Then it says in Romans 9:16:
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
It cannot be any clearer than this, if you look at John 1:13 or these verse in Romans. What about free will? What kind of “free will” does someone dead in sins have? What can they determine or choose? As Jesus said in John 15:16: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” Of course, the salvation program that the Bible teaches is a program that elevates the will of God and the will of man is not in view at all.
It says in Matthew 8:2-3:
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
This was a physical cleansing, but it is a picture of salvation, like when God willed Lazarus to come forth and then Lazarus was given “life” and was able to obey the command to come forth.
It says John 5:21:
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
The word “quickeneth” means to bring to life. Again, anyone that is saved is saved by His will and no other way.
So when God determined not to save anyone any longer during the 23 years of the Great Tribulation, the churches said, “Well, that is not so. We still have the Bible. We still have preaching and people are still accepting Christ, so we still have salvation.” But you cannot have salvation unless God wills it and causes it to happen, so there is no salvation within the churches because it is no longer the will of God. So when God established a decree and determined that on May 21, 2011 it would be Judgment Day and the door to heaven would shut, then it was the will of God that He would no longer perform the miracle of salvation in the life of any individual. Was that God’s will to do? Can He choose to not perform salvation? It is only by His authority and that has always been true. Could God determine to save in one place and not in another place? Could He determine to save during a certain time period and determine not to save in another time period like during the 2,300 evening mornings? We already recognize that. We already recognize that God can end a salvation program as He did with the firstfruits and the early rain in the churches and then He brought the 2,300 days of the famine and then He started up salvation again with the Latter Rain. It was all by His will. It was His will for time periods. It was His will when He would save in certain places. He would save in Israel and then He would no longer save in Israel or He would save in the churches and then He no longer saved in the churches. He is God. Romans, chapter 9 goes on to discuss those that argue and dispute with God and when people argue with God we have to remember who it is that speaks back to God – it is tiny, tiny, finite creature. And it is more than likely a fallen creature because a child of God would tremble to speak back to God.
Recently I was listening to a study Mr. Camping did on Isaiah, chapter 40 where God speaks of the nations and He sums up the nations as being a “drop in the bucket.” You have a bucket that holds so much water and you dump it out and there is a little drop left and that is the nations. How many people are in the nations today? It is seven and one half billion people that are in that little drop. Then he said, “If all the nations are a drop of water, just consider your place in that drop.” I said to myself, “That is right.” This is what we are to God – we are the smallest little speck. Let us turn to Isaiah 40 and look at what these verses say. It says in Isaiah 40:12:
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
This pictures this enormous Supreme Being that create the earth and things that seem so huge to us like the seas and the mountains. We stand in awe as we look at some of these high mountains in this world. These things are so great and wonderful and enormous to us, but God is just weighing them out like we weigh ingredients in the kitchen.
It goes on to say in Isaiah 40:13:
Who hath directed the Spirit of JEHOVAH, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
This is what mankind tries to do all the time. “Yes, the Bible says that God created the heaven and the earth, but let me tell you how it really happened. Billions and billions of years ago there was a bang – I do not know where the stuff came from that exploded, but then the universe took shape. I do not know how the universe took shape with the earth in exactly the right relationship to the sun, but…” If you ask these people details, they do not know and, yet, they “know it all” because that is the nature of man. Man wants to teach God. Man wants to be God. Man wants to be the one that can explain it all. He has the answer to everything, but, in fact, he does not know anything. We cannot know anything of ourselves without the Bible. It is only by the Word of God that we are able to have understanding and to truly know some things.
Then it goes on to say in Isaiah 40:14-15:
With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
The “isles” are all seven continents, which are basically enormous islands. God takes them up as “a very little thing.” It says in Isaiah 40:16-17:
And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
This means all nations with their seven and one half billion people. All the glory and honor we hear endlessly about in this world, along with all the trophies and gold medals that men strive for, are nothing. And it is even “not quite nothing,” because it says it is “less than nothing.” I do not understand how you can have less than nothing, but it is like you are in negative territory and it is all vanity. King Solomon learned this as he enjoyed riches and pleasures and greatness as the richest king of the world of his time, but how did he sum it all up? He said, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” It does not satisfy. It is like when you eat a meal and three hours later you are hungry again. You taste something or see something or experience something with one of your senses, but the eyes are not filled with seeing and the ears are not filled with hearing. It is our nature because of the fall into sin. It has made the whole world and everything in it a “vain and empty thing” and, finally, death makes everything vanity and empty at the last. You work hard. You get things and you have a family, and so forth. You have your life and then you die and you cannot take anything with you. It is all gone and you are like the beasts that perish. It is completely void. It is gone from you and you are gone, too, if you are not truly saved.
So, God in His salvation program tells us things and commands things and He speaks from an entirely different vantage point. He is not vain. He is not a “little” thing. He is the Supreme Being, the Almighty God that has always been. Can you imagine that?
I have gotten a little off track, but I was speaking with some evolutionists and atheists on Facebook in the group called “The Fictional Theory of Evolution.” They know that, ultimately, if you believe the universe just exploded into being, then you must believe in “eternal matter,” if you do not believe in God. There had to be some substance of some kind in order for it to explode, so they go back and back forever into everlasting past and there was some “matter” or “thing” that had to exist. Or, if that is not the case, there was an everlasting God that has always existed. He has always been, so when you go back into eternity past as far as you can go, there is always going to be this incredible Being that is God. God tells us in the Bible of things He worked out like Christ dying from the foundation of the world and then at some point He created this earth and here we are sort of in the “midst” of eternity, with eternity past on one side and eternity future on the other side.
We are just here for a short time and that is why we are so small and insignificant. The only significance is that we were created in the image of God and whether, or not, we have been redeemed. If we have been redeemed, it takes on real significance, but the enormity of God is awesome to think about. He is an everlasting Being and He wrote a Book. He wrote a Book that tells us about the beginning of all things and about Himself and His nature. It is such a wonderful thing that He is a good and everlasting God.