7.09.2007

Exploring the Book of Jonah

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The NIV titles each section of the book of Jonah. We shall work from these general titles to formulate a coherent understanding of each. First, Jonah Flees from the Lord. The son of Amattai flees a call from God to evangelize Nineveh the capital of the Assyrians--considered heathens by the Jews. After attempting a voyage away from God Jonah finds himself in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights.


Second, Jonah's Prayer from the Belly of the Fish. In obvious consternation Jonah seeks out the divine right of prayer. The overwhelming threat before Jonah causes him to conclude that God has "banished" him (2:4). In spite of that he continue to pray and pledge his "song of thanksgiving" (2:9). Miraculously the fish vomits Jonah onto dry land.


Third, Jonah Goes to Nineveh. The Lord told Jonah, a second time, to go to Nineveh but this time Jonah's obeys God's command. Wasting no time, "on the first day", Jonah proclaims that Nineveh will be "overturned" by God. The Ninevites believe and make humble obeisance. God responds with "compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened." (3:9).


Fourth, Jonah's Anger at God's Compassion. The turning of Nineveh did not please Jonah. In a childish manner, possibly, Jonah goes away and sits "east of the city" to "see what would happen to the city." God causes a vine to grow and shelter Jonah from the heat. This makes Jonah "very happy". Yet, as quick as the vine was alive it died by the worm. This disturbed Jonah, but ironically, the fate of over 120,000 people did not. God tells Jonah that he has great cause to "be concerned about that great city."


Jonah 1:13-16: Contextual Analysis

Jonah, the son of Amittai, was chosen by God and God spoke a command to "go" to Nineveh. Interestingly enough, Christ would later utter this same word, in the Greek NT, in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Initially, the transgressions of the Ninevites are not explored. The text gives Jonah a simple command to go to Nineveh and "preach against it" because of its wickedness that has ascended before God.


In hopes of escaping the divine edict Jonah finds himself aboard a vessel that was destined for a storm and would later find himself in a fish's belly. Amidst this storm utter chaos has broken out yet Jonah was, as was Christ in the Gospels during a storm at sea as well, asleep in the hull of the ship.


While using the tradition of "casting lots" the responsibility of fault rests accurately upon Jonah. This may not be too coincidental since Jonah had already told them he was running from the Lord (vs. 10). They question, "Tell us, who is really responsible..." Personal introspective questions follow that actually seek Jonah's religious persuasion. After hearing that he was a Hebrew the fellow voyagers became "terrified" and they began to as "What have you done?" This and subsequent responses might indicate that these voyagers held high regard for the Hebrew God.


After the voyagers desperately search for a solution, Jonah finally tells them to "throw him into the sea." Possibly reserving Capital Punishment for a later time the voyages continue to "row back to land", in vain hopes however. Ironically, these men who possibly worshipped other gods began to call on the Hebrew God and crying "O Lord" because they did not wish to be accountable for killing an innocent man. This portion of the text also has some Christological affinity. For example, the crucifixion of Christ contains Pilate washing his hands in hopes of removing the blood of the innocent--as were these voyagers.


After throwing Jonah overboard the "sea grew calm." Because of this the voyagers made vows and sacrifices to the Lord. In further Christological fashion, Jonah is in the belly of the fish (seemingly certain death) for three days.

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Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)