last night, the man and i read the book of jonah. i love reading the narrative parts of the bible, and it’s short length of only four chapters made it a great way to spend time in the word. the cool thing is that we had been planning on reading it last night, and it came up in conversation while we were hanging out with our friends jana and larry.
side note: it is so good to have someone/someones that you can consistently and intimately ask and be asked about how scripture is changing your life. we do this pretty well in our small group, but there’s something about that one on one (two on two?) setting that makes it really personal and good. we are so blessed that we have both, this time every week with the gross’, and also with our small group to talk, because it spurs us on to want to practice our daily rhythm of reading and praying when others around us are so excited about it. love! end sidenote.
SO, jonah. we aren’t done with it, but here are a few things that have stood out to me so far.
1 jonah’s prayer.
in chapter two, jonah prays a most beautiful prayer to God….inside the belly of a big fish. (that’s so weird to think about….stinky, too. yuck.) towards the end of it he says, “those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” i love the way he so simply but powerfully states this. it’s a LOT to chew on.
2. what must have the other passengers on the boat been thinking?
they weren’t bad guys, and they were definitely hesitant to throw him overboard. jonah had told them that he was fleeing from God. can you imagine what it must have been like for them, to see the storm calm after throwing him into the sea? v 1:16 says, “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”
3. what the heck does the word, “tempestuous” mean?
the author uses this word several times in describing the nature of the sea. here are some words that will give you a better picture of what was happening: disturbance, uproar, agitated, distraught, turbulent, disorderly, violent, and commotion.
4. jonah’s pride.
maybe this seems obvious to you, because let’s face it. when we are prideful, the wrong kind of fear of God is created. he ran from God, and got eaten by a giant fish, but he repented right? he went kicking and screaming into God’s will….right? let’s talk about what happened after jonah got to ninevah and proclaimed the message God had given him.
in 3:10, we read: “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.”
let’s understand first (most of this thanks to my history-buff of a husband) that jonah going to ninevah, was sort of like a jew going to proclaim a message to nazi-germany. the people of ninevah were known for their bloodthirsty war-like way of life. i mean, i’m just saying…it would have taking me getting thrown up by a big fish to get there, too. if you were in this situation (or the more modern day WW2 reference), chances are you would have probably seen and experienced a lot of bad things. you would want and desire for these people to get what was coming: the wrath of the almighty God.
jonah cries out to God in chapter 4, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
“gracious,” “abounding in steadfast love,”…those are really pretty words. but it says jonah is angry? what’s up with that? jonah thinks he knows what is best for the country. jonah has his blinders on and is so narrowly focused on these horrible people getting what they have coming, from God. jonah is upset that God has shown compassion on this people who have changed their ways. in ch 3 it says that after jonah proclaimed God’s truth, “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.” from the greatest to the least. even the king declared, “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.”
i still have a lot to learn from this book. a question dan is challenging me on as we move forward in the text, is, ‘how does this point back to Jesus?’ woah! more on this later.
i hope this gives you some things to think about. a little salt to make you thirsty for more of what is happening in jonah. :)
thanks for reading!