Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jonah

Jonah is possibly the most known prophets of the Bible, aside from Moses, because of the oft-retold story a huge sea creature swallowing him. Like Obadiah, the message God delivered through Jonah was not for Israel, but for a foreign place. In Jonah’s case, it was Nineveh, the capital of the rising Assyrian Empire.

Assyria was a rival of Israel—eventually its empire would include the northern kingdom—so Jonah was reluctant to go when God told him to head to Nineveh. Jonah headed the opposite direction, took to see, his ship was nearly lost in a storm, he was tossed overboard and swallowed. He finally gave up and the sea creature spit him out on the shore.

Jonah was a whiner. He whined about God calling to him to a place he didn’t want to go and a people he didn’t like. When the hearts of the citizens of Nineveh were changed and God showed mercy to them, he complained that this was the reason he didn’t want to go—he knew God would show mercy to a repentant people and Jonah would have preferred that they perish.

Jonah is a lot like us: disobedient, petty, vindictive, whiney, selfish. God used him anyway, triumphantly in spite of Jonah’s bad attitude. God has mercy on the repentant sinners and rebukes the haughty prophet who is supposed to be a holy man.

I recommend reading Jonah if you haven’t gotten to it. It says a lot about the character of God and men. It is an interesting short story, too. The “whale” isn’t even the most interesting part of it.


Jonah. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.