Monday, April 24, 2006

The Book of Johah

Sometimes you're in a rut. Sometimes you're in a groove. Sometimes its hard to know the difference.

The wise will tell you that the Bible is partly a collection of books telling and re-telling the same story again and again. The Prophet Jonah's book is a great example of this.

You all know the Bible Story... but have you ever sat down and read the whole book?

Contrary to popular belief Jonah was a prophet. Not a fisherman. God called Jonah and told him to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach repentence. God would destroy the city in 40 days.

Jonah doesn't want to do this though. He knows God is a loving God. He fears that he will be successful in his preaching, and Nineveh will be spared by God. I don't know if Jonah had an ex-wife in Nineveh or what, but he certainly seemed to want for its doom. Maybe he just didn't like city folk. I can certainly relate. The prophet even goes so far as a to set up camp after he preaches in Nineveh... apparently just to see it destroyed. I've gotten ahead of myself though.

Anyway... Jonah refuses God's command and hops on a boat bound for Tarshish.

God apparently didn't think that was funny.

God caused the sea to become angry... and the ship was risking break up. The crew was frantic... trying to discover the reason... and Jonah fessed up. Jonah told them to cast him into the sea.

At first the crew refused... they even prayed that innocent blood be kept from their hands... but in the end decided God does what God does... and they tossed Jonah over-board. Jonah went willingly.

It was then that God sent the fish.... and in the fish... Jonah spent three days.

Hrm... Sounding familiar yet?

The fish vomited Jonah out onto land and God once again told Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time... Jonah went.

Remarkable in the story is the wholesale repentence of the great city. Christ himself mentions it. And just as Jonah feared... God spared the city.

Jonah was so pissed that God spared the city... he actually prayed to God... saying, "I told you so!" Then he promptly begged for death... which I understand is a common occurance among people who've recently rebuked God in such a fashion.

In the end... God chastizes Jonah for having compassion for one thing out of selfishness... and not another. The book is incredibly important, as it demonstrates God's love and patience with people other than Jews... even prior to Christ's arrival.

It's also another telling of the redemption tale. The despair of one, in this case Jonah in the fish, leading to the salvation of many.

Bill said it well in the comments in the prior post. Sometimes its better to skip the Bible study plan, and just read the books. A forrest is often easier to comprehend than a single tree.

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