Okay, so I was only off by 3,234.86 miles (5,206 km)!
I said Sunday (10/7/12) that the Apostle Paul was a Roman citizen from “Tarsish” in Spain when in fact everyone knows he was from “Tarsus,” in was then called Asia and is now known as Turkey.
Tarsish (תַּרְשִׁישׁ) is famous in biblical lore because that is where Jonah promptly headed (Read the story from Jonah 1:2) when God told him to go to Nineveh, northeast of Israel, in what is now north central Iraq. In fact, Jonah was so scared to tell the wicked pagans in Nineveh to repent that he ran as far in the opposite direction as he could possibly go in those days — to Tarsish, a seaport at the other end of the Medditeranian Sea in southern Spain.*
But, “Saul of Tarsus” (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), who we come to know later as Paul the Apostle, was born in the Province of Cilicia on the south central coast of Asia, not Spain. In fact, soon after his dramatic conversion Saul returned for a time to his home city of Tarsus (Acts 9:30). And that is where Barnabus later found him (Acts 11:25) and formed the dynamic church-planting team that would later change the world.
Knew that. Brain cramp. Silly me. Thank you Wes and all the others who pointed out my blatant public fail.
Only by grace,
* We tend to think that the OT book of Jonah is all about the story of a reluctant prophet named Jonah. But, what if it is not about Jonah at all but rather about the extent that God will go to to save a wicked city. What if the familiar story is actually all about the city of Nineveh, not about the man. Read it over again from the new perspective of God’s great, persistent, insistent love for the city — and the extraordinary lengths God went through to bring the good news of his mercy and forgiveness to the lost and hopeless sinners there.
And then think about God’s great love for your city. Is it possible that you are Jonah? Do you have a hope-filled message from God for your city of “Repent and be saved!”? Are you running away from that assignment because you are afraid? Or do you love your city like God does? “God so loved the world…” also means “God so loved the city…” (John 3:16, 17).